With compliance application deadlines looming ever closer, pressure on brokers has rarely been greater and there is evidence of more urgency - even panic - from some brokers. The degree to which brokers are ready to make a decision varies and the support brokers receive from insurers also varies, but it is important to use this support to make the right choice for the future.
The evidence so far suggests that a significant number of personal lines brokers will seek authorisation, sell parts of the business or exit completely. A smaller number are considering becoming appointed representatives or introducers, or they will join a mortgage network. Zurich is committed to working with brokers whichever path they choose.
Working with the philosophy that brokers should decide their approach to regulation, Zurich's approach is to provide help and information on a range of options.
The company recently sent out a booklet, Making the right choices, which spells out five options, the issues connected with each option and details of how Zurich can provide guidance and support.
If a broker chooses to join a network, it is important to consider if the network has a healthy business model that is sustainable. A number of networks offer a wide range of compliance support, whereas others offer a more limited range of services. Zurich will be working with the networks that prioritise value creation, not simply premium aggregation.
On the other hand, if a broker is considering selling up, it is important to make a decision sooner rather than later, otherwise the value of the business will diminish.
Regardless of whether a broker wishes to seek compliance or sell its business or its portfolio, it is important that the business is fit and healthy. To judge this, brokers should take advantage of the business consultancy packages being offered by insurers. Over the past few months, Zurich's 'health checks' have helped brokers to understand the areas of their business that they need to focus on and give reassurance that they are on the right track.
However, with the start of 2004, now is the time for decisions. Despite the complexity of the task at hand, support and guidance does exist.