Broker predicts that ‘permanent virtual world’ post-coronavirus could be ‘dangerous’

Moving to a permanent virtual trading and working environment post-Covid-19 could be “dangerous” for brokers and lead to a lack of market growth, said prominent aesthetics broker Mark Copsey, associate director of the cosmetic division at broker Hamilton Fraser.

The majority of the insurance market has been forced to implement working from home initiatives in accordance with government guidelines surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Copsey said that although the insurance market can be maintained while staff are working remotely, “I don’t think you can really drive it forward if you’re in a working from home environment”.

He continued: “Certainly, negotiating binders or broking to underwriting, it’s very easy. It’s much harder for a broker to portray their case virtually because underwriters can just say no and there’s nothing you can really do about it, whereas face-to-face, there’s body language, a bit of poker face [and] overcoming difficulties just by relationships.

“I hope people don’t think we’re just going to suddenly morph into this permanent virtual world. I think it’s dangerous personally.”

Strength in relationships

Ashwin Mistry, executive chairman at Brokerbility, agreed that brokers’ “greatest strength is relationships”.

He added: “We are the constant in clients’s interaction with their professional advisors.”

Mistry further agreed with Copsey in terms of the struggle for business growth while insurance staff are working remotely. “Growth will be a challenge. It will be for all brokers. It will be for all businesses,” he said.

“The staff have embraced very quickly the concept of working from home. Virtual meetings have become the norm, but we are proactively preparing for a return to face-to-face meetings with clients. Our key success for growth lies in our belief that client relationships are reinstated as quickly and safely as possible.

“Our client loyalty is excellent as they have begun to appreciate value over price.”

Digital reluctance

But has this past focus on face-to-face relationship building hampered brokers, especially as the coronavirus lockdown has seen so many businesses turn to digital means?

Bartosz Golba, head of financial services at GlobalData, said brokers have been slow to implement social media and digital technologies as a whole, meaning they could be struggling to keep clients satisfied during lockdown.

This is supported by the firm’s 2016-20 UK Broker Surveys, which shows that brokers have made little progress in adopting social media engagement, claims tracking processes or online chat facilities within this five-year period.

The data further suggests that although brokers understand the importance of these technologies, introducing them has not been a top priority.


Golba added: “Brokers have suffered during the Covid-19 outbreak given that their businesses rely on face-to-face meetings and client engagement.

“Brokers will be inundated with queries from their clients about potential insured losses. Digital technologies would be extremely helpful to ease these concerns, however most brokers in the UK do not have this capability.

“Unfortunately, a global incident, such as a pandemic, has exposed these flaws and they will struggle to keep clients satisfied while face-to-face meetings are not possible.”

Mistry presented a different perspective, however. He said: “Focusing on client journeys, we have in our trading business covered all routes to market.

“Our clients can deal with us in any way they desire. Our investment in our digital marketing team is reaping great rewards not only for client communication, but also staff engagement. It has been extraordinary.”