There are huge benefits to be gained from e-trading thanks to improved efficiencies, says Acturis’s chief executive, and ignoring it will simply hurt brokers’ bottom line

Theo Duchen, Acturis

Q: What was the starting point for you?
A: It was also the starting point for the market. The first e-trading integration was between Acturis and AXA in 2003 or 2004. We did it partly as a proof of concept to see if it could be done. Then imarket took hold and the first imarket transaction occurred between an Acturis broker and Groupama. We grew from there. It’s almost half of our business by volume, and in commercial that’s very significant.

Q: What are the main advantages it brings to insurers and brokers?
A: From the broker’s point of view there’s enormous efficiency, because they’re instantly getting a range of quotes from the insurers without having to re-key them, and they can quote and bind the business, and obtain the documents instantly, so the efficiency gains from a broker’s point of view are pretty substantial.

Q: What would you say to those brokers who aren’t interested?
A: That it’s going to hurt their bottom line. Very soon, integrated e-trading capabilities are going to be a precursor to doing business. I think that, depending on their class of business, a lot of insurers will say that business below a certain size will not be worth doing in other ways.

Q: What cultural barriers do brokers need to overcome?
A: It’s less of a problem in the high-volume SME area, but we’re moving towards e-trading in the larger commercial space and here there are significant cultural barriers. In the SME space, most brokers and insurers recognise that these are small case sizes and you can’t afford to spend a lot of time on those.

Q: What’s the take-up rate for brokers?
A: It depends on the product. We’ve seen a quicker take-up on fleet as opposed to commercial combined. The take-up on the e-trade products at the SME end of the market, like tradesmen, property owners and shops, is high. The market has had time to get used to them. It’s not that new, it’s been around for a while now and a lot of insurers have dealt with some of the issues that they’re facing on some of the newer products now. So there’s a consistency of response and brokers are seeing that they’re getting the same result online as from the branch.

Theo Duchen is chief executive of Acturis