The BIBA chief said brokers needed to embrace technological change if they are to be successful in a forward-thinking insurance world

BIBA chief executive Steve White opened the 2019 BIBA Conference by urging delegates to embrace the changes that are facing the insurance industry so that they can build a workforce that is ready to succeed in a future that will be remarkably different to the world we live in today.

White said that technological developments such as artificial intelligence (AI) are already changing the role of the broker, and that this needs to be embraced and integrated into day-to-day work.

“The development and use of artificial intelligence in the insurance sector has been spoken about for a while now, but there are clear signs that it is going to have an effect in our space, much sooner than we might have previously thought,” he said. “At the moment, AI is more prevalent amongst the major insurers but the benefits for brokers are clear to see.

“It can support brokers to focus efforts in serving the customer better and offering a smoother insurance experience. AI is and will continue to be a positive change for us, improving services and not just the underlying product.”

He added: “We must be the champions of that change.”

Maintaining Trust

White said that many financial institutions had lost the trust of their customers in recent years as they failed to adapt to this changing working environment, but praised brokers for their continued work to champion the customer and maintain their professional standards.

“The sad thing is, financial institutions have lost the trust of the people in recent years – that is alarming,” he said. “And that trust it is very hard to retrieve. But you, insurance brokers, have fought hard to ensure we can retain the trust of our customers, despite everything else happening out there.

“Change has made that challenge more difficult, but you have succeeded to date because you have done the right thing: you have listened to the new needs of your customers; you have stayed ahead of the societal trends; and you have embraced the expectations that are being set within the modern marketplace.”

White continued by saying that it was this acceptance of technology, and the continued evolution of the insurance industry, that was helping to ensure brokers continued to do the best by their customers.

“You are making change work for you because you know what has always made our industry tick – truly understanding our teams and our customers,” he said. “People sometimes wrongly paint our industry as dated. Those who do that are the ones stuck in the past, not you the industry.

“You are leading the way in providing creative solutions that are giving people a way to live their lives, providing cover and helping them with claims when they simply couldn’t do without you.”

The Importance of Mental Well-being

White also spoke about the importance of mental health, a big topic for this year’s conference, and said that it is vital for the industry to embrace mental well-being initiatives, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is ‘essential’ for the future success of the insurance industry as a whole.

“We are doing all we can to raise awareness, actively encouraging firms to develop a culture of openness throughout their businesses around mental wellbeing,” he said. “Those firms that are already creating a culture around diversity, inclusion and mental wellbeing are finding it easier to recruit the young talent they need for tomorrow.

“That is essential for our industry. We all work in a difficult and ever tightening jobs market. If we are to stay ahead on the skills front, we must deliver on diversity, inclusion and mental health wellness.”