Embracing new technology can represent a real opportunity for brokers to add value, ITEX chairman Nigel Norman says

Nigel Norman

The digital world has well and truly arrived in the UK’s insurance sector. But the embracing of these new technologies and opportunities remains exceptionally patchy, with early adopters at one end and what some would call luddites at the other end of the scale.

For intermediaries/brokers these new technologies and platforms represent an opportunity to add value through faster and better customer service allied with their sector knowledge and market experience. For intermediaries/brokers to increase their turnover, however, retention rates and consequently profitability, the insurance product(s) offered must be unique in construct and serviceability.

Simplified, the digital age is all about processing greater amounts of relevant data. Insurers require greater depth of information if they are to provide the necessary products to not only satisfy more complicated and sophisticated client/customer requirements, but also to meet ever-increasing regulatory standards. The design and implementation of digital platforms must therefore allow for data flow in both directions (broker to insurer, insurer to broker – eradicating the need for emails) providing a continuous audit trail to satisfy an army of compliance officers.

It is, of course, imperative that today’s forward-thinking ‘digital’ broker uses the right platform to deliver to both himself but also a ‘unique final product’ to his customer/client. Not only must that platform be easy and straightforward in use, it must also enable the broker to distinguish himself uniquely from the competition. Technology allows us to manage all that data, providing ever greater speed of transactions; but to truly succeed, processes must be simplified if the digital age is to come of age.

Some general current thinking is all around digital being disruptive (this is but a generational thing). But those intermediaries that have adopted the available platforms and re using the ‘e’ and ‘social’ communications channels that previously did not exist have found they virtuous service and business chain delivering real results. And, of course, they can do it from any device, anywhere, with an internet connection.

Online fraud and security are exceptionally rare as digital platforms and servers and the technical plumbing are extremely secure and robust these days. Compliance and regulation ensures this additionally, of course.

Further down the line, examination of the analytics will provide the technology savvy broker with advantageous information derived from Big Data and customer behaviour – allowing them to further add value and differentiate themselves from both the competition, but also have a unique or specialised proposition to particular clients or customers and their digital footprint.

So, as a broker/intermediary – why not at the very least trial a digital broking platform with either an existing customer to see if it does offer a better service and financial reward for both yourself and your client, or with a new client where you have nothing to lose anyway.

After all, there was a time not so long ago when the insurance industry said it would not be using email.