Building connections with ‘more brokers we don’t trade with’ will help fuel ‘intelligent growth’, says chief distribution and regions officer

Biba 2022: This year, insurer Allianz plans to “reorientate” itself in order to “make some new broker friends” – especially “smaller, community brokers” that it has not “really paid that much heed” to in the past, according to Nick Hobbs, chief distribution and regions officer at Allianz UK.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times at broking trade body Biba’s annual conference in Manchester on 11 May 2022, Hobbs explained that “people are getting into the habit of only dealing with the brokers that they’ve ever dealt with” rather than seeking new partnerships and relationships.

He continued: “One of the things that the last two years have revealed is that we have many more brokers we don’t trade with that we could be doing things for.

“We just need to reorientate ourselves a little bit differently.”

Nick Hobbs

Nick Hobbs

Allianz intends to form its new friendships by “spending more time with brokers rather than dealing with things internally” as well as by looking “at the way in which you offer your proposition to your brokers and saying ‘is that right for all the cohorts of brokers that exist within the market?’”

Breaking down this strategy further, Hobbs explained that Allianz segments its brokers into defined cohorts, including “globals, internationals, core independents and then smaller, community brokers” – it is these last two demographics where Hobbs believes Allianz has the most work to do.

He said: “We haven’t really paid that much heed in a way that maybe we could have done to the community brokers that sit at the bottom and obviously the independents are those that are more obviously and frequently courted for purchase at the minute.

“We’re looking at putting together a proposition at the moment which is actually all about making sure those [broker cohorts] are better served by our organisation.”

This will include finessing “a different way in which we handle the stuff that comes in from them, making sure that the propositions in terms of product are the right size and figure for that kind of organisation”.

Hobbs added that Allianz will supplement this approach with support mechanisms such as marketing, LinkedIn Learning courses, training and access to mental health first aiders – although the insurer already offers these tools to broker partners, Hobbs feels that “very often, it’s the case that a smaller broker makes more of it”.

Consolidation and fragmentation

Hobbs does not think that ongoing broker consolidation across the market will detrimentally impact Allianz’s plans here – he said that the insurer is “not adverse to it”.

He explained: “The reality is [that] the business that [consolidated brokers] serve is still out there. Even when businesses consolidate, they create larger organisations. They are still [serving] the same customer base.

“It does lead to some upward pressure on things like commission. It does lead to some difficult conversations occasionally as these organisations consolidate and sort out their operational shape.

“[But] for the most part, consolidation just means you have fewer people to talk to at organisations.

“Of course, it does also represent opportunity for others because for every consolidation, there’s a bit of fragmentation at the fringe and people move on to do different things, setting up new enterprises and a bit more innovation maybe coming to the market driven by that very consolidation.”

Intelligent growth

Allianz’s aim to boost its broker connections is closely interlinked with another of its 2022 goals – “intelligent growth”.

Hobbs described this as “growing through being bloody good at the disciplines you had before you went into lockdown and reapplying those disciplines in the most concerted way now we’re back in offices”.

This focus will “characterise” 2022 for Allianz UK, Hobbs added.

He continued: “This conference, this gathering is all about looking forward.

“We’ve had stuff we’ve had to fix – now we’ve moved on from that at a rapid pace, so we’re trading very strongly at the minute and we’re looking forward to trading with a lot more people than we have done in the past.”