The firm wants to ‘level the playing field’ for small and medium-sized brokers by providing greater access to different insurance markets and ‘getting service out of insurers’

Ardonagh Advisory, part of intermediary organisation The Ardonagh Group, is preparing to launch a new data-based and technology enabled trading proposition for the 630 regional brokers that are members of its Bravo Networks groups - Broker Network and Compass.

The proposition – called Bravo Accelerator – aims to facilitate “better connectivity” between the networks’ regional broker members and Ardonagh Advisory’s insurer partners by using a new data tool to underpin four trading facilities which aim to match insurers’ risk appetite with brokers’ clientele.

The data tool, Bravo Insights, is designed to outline to brokers their own books of business.

Phil Bayles, chief commercial officer at Ardonagh Advisory, told Insurance Times that this understanding will help brokers to make more informed decisions and better analyse the market-wide opportunities they wish to tap into.

Building on this foundation of data, the Bravo Accelerator will then share the insights on brokers’ books with Ardonagh Advisory’s insurer partners, so that they can reach out to clients and brokers that match their risk appetite.

Following this initial data analysis and exchange, the Bravo Accelerator subsequently seeks to empower the networks’ broker members and Ardonagh Advisory’s insurer partners to connect, place business and trade through a choice of four new facilities, which are software house agnostic.

This includes Bravo Digital Trader for eTrading SME commercial lines business, the Bravo Personal Lines Hub for eTrading personal lines products, Bravo Navigator to place non-eTraded, mid-market commercial risks and Bravo Specialisms, which aims to be a one-stop-shop for placing specialty risks.

Ardonagh Advisory will officially launch the Bravo Accelerator at its Bravo Networks conference in Birmingham on 2 March 2023.

‘Biggest change’ to current network model

For Bayles, the Bravo Accelerator marks “quite a revolution” because it presents a much more proactive function than just the compliance, HR, marketing and web support that networks typically provide to their members.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times ahead of the Bravo Accelerator’s launch, Bayles explained that Ardonagh Advisory devised the proposition to meet the needs of its broker members.

He said: “When I spoke to [network brokers] around what their biggest concerns [were], it was getting access to insurance markets [and] getting the service out of insurers. Larger brokers, because they have scale, tend to get the attention of insurers and get better service propositions.

“We’ve set out to try [and] level the playing field so that we can bring that collective purchasing power of the networks [together] and create ways in which [broker members] can gain the attention of the insurers they need and, therefore, [gain] the breadth of offering that their clients need.

Phil Bayles Pic

Phil Bayles

“[The Bravo Accelerator is] resolving genuine problems. The brokers have a problem with accessing the right market. The insurers have a problem with cost effectively accessing small and mid-sized brokers. And the things that we’re putting in place do solve those problems at both ends.”

Bayles described the Bravo Accelerator as “the biggest change within our networks for probably 20, 25 years”.

He continued: “There’s a big perceived need for better connectivity with the key insurers.

“We’re going to be the facilitator of that because we have the relationships with the insurers, we have the relationships with the brokers and we have the technology that can sit between the two and guide the business towards the insurers.”

Marrying data and technology to better enable brokers and insurers to work together – the core aim of the Bravo Accelerator - “is a future way of improving the lot of small and regional brokers and making their businesses more viable, more sustainable”, Bayles added.

“I genuinely think that in five to 10 years’ time, this will be the norm,” he said.

Tapping into ‘insurtech thinking’

Although Bayles believes the Bravo Accelerator is a new development when it comes to broker networks, he does acknowledge that insurtechs have been seeking to better join the dots between brokers and insurers for a number of years now.

This includes the creation of businesses such as Insurercore, Broker Insights and Upsurance.

However, what sets the Bravo Accelerator apart – in his view – is because Bravo Networks can pair “insurtech thinking” and “good technology” with its existing “distribution breadth” and “established business model”, creating a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.

He explained: “The insurtechs, in a sense, have shown us how to do it. The most difficult thing for insurtechs to do is find ways to get scale quick enough to afford all the running costs of being an insurtech. We have that scale. If we can bring that technology capability, we get the scale very quickly because it’s tapping into an existing arrangement.

“We already have a very close affinity with those 600 brokers – it’s easier for us to deploy technology and get adoption of that technology than it is if you’re just a technology company. It’s easier for us to have access to insurers because we’re already dealing with insurers on the other business that we place.

“It’s not that we’re being brilliant – there’s a coming together of opportunity and timing. We’re lucky to have some good technology capability in the group that [is] helping us to take advantage of that opportunity.”

The member firms of Broker Network and Compass place approximately £2.5bn of business in the UKGI market – based on this scale, “the only way you can create an efficient marketplace is utilising technology”, Bayles added.

With this in mind, the Bravo Accelerator is intentionally “technology heavy and people light”. This strives to reduce inefficiencies for brokers when it comes to repeatedly keying in data, as well as help insurers minimise the cost pressures of trying to contact 600-odd regional brokers.

Next steps

Bayles is keen to launch the Bravo Accelerator swiftly, so although Bravo Insights will be fully functional come March – as well as some of the eTrading panels – he explained that the full roll out could still take months, or even years, to complete.

“We want to get stuff out there knowing that the next phase will come on quite quickly,” he said.

“So, what we see on day one will be a shadow of what it will be three months down the line. [Another] three months down the line, it will be better still. We’re trying to get the concept out there and for people to adopt it and understand what it can do for their business.

“Even just playing back to the brokers the data around what their book looks like and who’d be interested in it and where the appetite from key insurers will be for parts of their book and then playing the brokers’ data back to the insurers – that in itself will be very useful for both parties.”

Although the Bravo Accelerator has clearly defined sectors it plans to play in at launch, Bayles said Bravo Networks may look to expand the areas the tool covers in the future. “It’s limitless in terms of where you can take it,” he added.

Addressing brokers’ needs

For Bayles, the Bravo Accelerator has been designed to address a “genuine need” and he is proud to be launching the proposition to market this year.

He said: “You’ve got all this fragmented demand [from brokers] here, you’ve got the insurers [there] and never the twain shall meet. MGAs are writing 30% of the business in the networks because insurers aren’t getting to it.

“What we’re doing is giving the data to the insurers and brokers and then putting these solutions in place [with the hope that] a lot of the brokers will use those facilities and then that guides business to the partner insurers.

“So, you’ll get a consolidation of the demand from those brokers into fewer insurers and then that will give members more buying power off those insurers.

“It’s going to change the dynamics. It means the networks are proactively getting involved rather than trying to influence from the outside. [We’re] channelling business towards the best insurers for the different solutions - whether that’s personal lines, SME, mid-market or specialisms.

“[From my time at insurers], this is what I would always like a network to have been.”

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