BIBA 2024: CII Broking Community offers advice on thriving in an evolving landscape

BIBA 2024: CII Broking Community offers advice on thriving in an evolving landscape

The Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) Broking Community held a Fringe session at this year’s BIBA conference, advising attendees on ‘Thriving in the evolving landscape of the insurance broker’, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing Insurance Brokers in 2024.

The session covered key topics such as standing out in the market through commitment to learning and development (L&D) and professionalism; ‘falling in to the profession’ and opportunities to improve on talent scarcity, as well as the impact of global events on pricing structures within broking.

The panel was made up of Charlie Upton (CU), Regional Managing Director at PIB Insurance Brokers; Laura Hancock (LH), Managing Director of Yutree Insurance and Chair of the CII Broking Community Board; Peter Robinson (PR), Managing Director at Prizm Solutions, and Yasmin Van Der Veen (YVDV), Account Executive at Marsh and former member of the CII New Gen Broking group.

On the issue of attracting and retaining talent, Laura Hancock asked the panel: What are you and your organisations doing to address this?

CU: “We are trying to change the way we talk about our industry. Many people talk about how they fell into the profession by accident, which doesn’t help to show it as a sector that people should choose to enter. The profession has a huge amount of opportunity and so many more varied roles than there once were. We need to do more to advertise these opportunities to young people as a career. It is no longer simply about being an account handler and then eventually becoming an account executive, there are risk management roles, Claims roles, data roles and many more.

“Talent is limited, we know that, so we need to create more excitement about the career.

“Retaining staff is difficult, and we will often see bidding wars between brokers for staff, but we have found the key is making sure our people are engaged. At PIB we have launched a programme that enhances the feeling of belonging. We want our people to feel part of a community and part of something positive.”

LH: One way for Brokers to thrive is to evolve and differentiate themselves. How do you think Brokers could do this?

YVDV: “It is tricky as Brokers are all selling the same products, so one of the main ways to differentiate is through a good investment and commitment to L&D. Whether through the CII or internally at an organisation it can help you to stand out by demonstrating strong knowledge and professionalism.”

LH: “I couldn’t agree more. We have chosen to be a CII Chartered Broker and we know it helps us to stand out as trusted advisors and not just sellers of insurance.”

LH: Capacity has been a challenge for brokers over the last few years, with new insurers coming into the market and some exiting in certain areas. How have you navigated this?

PR: “We have found that capacity has reduced on several occasions which makes it hard to plan a long-term approach with clients, and often there is a little notice from a provider when they are going to pull capacity. We have found we need to rely more and more on MGAs to survive. Ideally, we want long term capacity with insurers and a commitment to a time frame, but it definitely has been an issue.

“As a Broker you need to have as many strings to your bow as possible, which is why events like the BIBA conference are so important. It is a great chance to discover opportunities that are out there.”

LH: The last few years have been heavily impacted by external events and it has been a real challenge for the industry, with Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and other geopolitical events being major factors. How can we navigate this market cycle?

CU: “It is surprising how many clients don’t understand how events around the world impact our industry, and how it affects prices and costs going up and down. So, helping them to understand this is really helpful. Relate it to their world, as no doubt their own supply chains will have seen prices rise and energy prices at their premises will have risen. We also have political uncertainty on the horizon with elections in the UK and US both potentially resulting in change of governments.

“With costs rising everywhere, clients are often looking for cheaper alternatives, so we also have to help educate the client that cheaper providers aren’t always best.”

LH: I have spoken with lots of brokers at BIBA over the last 2 days and there is still an issue with Insurer Service since the pandemic. I feel that brokers have adapted post pandemic but that insurers are still struggling to provide the service that was received pre-pandemic. What are you finding?

YVDV: “We are finding that many insurers are still working from home which does appear to have an impact on the service that is being received post pandemic.

“We have seen some improvements with improved portal functions, and some have implemented live chat systems, but it does feel that this is an issue that needs more input.”

On developing the Fringe session, Laura Hancock said: “We recognised a crucial opportunity to facilitate an enriching session for brokers with valuable insights from other practicing brokers. As the CII Broking Community, our aim is to support, energise and inspire broking professionals, empowering them to excel in their roles and business, and what better platform than the BIBA conference.”