At a glance
- What are the key challenges facing brokers today?
- What are the biggest emerging risks facing brokers’ clients?
- Tim Smith, Head of Sales, Zurich Global Corporate UK (GCUK), discusses these and other key issues affecting the insurance industry
Tim Smith has been appointed to a newly created role as Head of Sales, Zurich Global Corporate UK (GCUK).
Here, Tim describes what the role involves and outlines some of the steps Zurich is taking to build even closer relationships with brokers.
Q. How would you describe your role?
Tim: It’s a new role within Global Corporate UK that allows me to interact more directly with the underwriting floor.
The role is about making sure we are completely aligned around strategy, to build relations with our clients and our major broker partners.
Although sales is still a fundamental part of the role, this is not just about top line growth. It’s about making sure that the growth we are looking to achieve is in the most relevant areas, and is aligned with our underwriting strategy. In that sense, Head of Sales is a bit of a misnomer.
Q. What do you see as the biggest emerging risks affecting brokers’ clients?
Tim: Whenever there is a survey of brokers and insurers asking about emerging risks, cyber is always at the top of the list.
It’s also one of the most challenging risks from an insurance perspective. You may insure one part of an exposure, as you understand it, but then need to consider what other losses might stem from a cyber event.
“We have developed a huge amount of expertise and market knowledge from having such a broad customer base, which can help brokers.”
Tim Smith, Head of Sales, Zurich Global Corporate UK
Another big emerging risk is driverless cars, because of the complex liability issues that could arise following an incident. Self-driving is already common in some forms, for example parking sensors, but to get to the stage that we see in science-fiction movies, where driverless cars are the norm, we have some way to go.
Q. Zurich launched a cyber policy, Security and Privacy, earlier this year. How would you describe Zurich’s appetite in this area?
Tim: Zurich’s position is very clear. We want to engage with our biggest and longest-standing clients, where the level of engagement we have with them, and with their brokers, allows us to understand their true risk exposure.
Q. What challenges do today’s brokers face?
Tim: Brokers, much like insurers, have challenges around growth and around their business development. Premiums are being squeezed so income from commissions is more difficult for brokers to attain. Brokers have to find ways of adding value, which is something we can help with.
Q. How do you hope to use your role to build relations with brokers?
Tim: Zurich’s key strength is its ability to link different parts of the business together and to access market-leading knowledge.
Zurich’s Broker Stewardship Programme
Earlier this year, Zurich conducted more than 100 face-to-face interviews with members of five broking houses – Aon, Marsh, Willis, JLT and Lockton – to identify ways to improve its performance and its relationship with brokers, as part of its Broker Stewardship Programme.
The survey resulted in many positive findings, including a high level of overall satisfaction with Zurich. A number of areas for improvement were also identified.
Luciano Prete, Broker Development Manager with Zurich Global Corporate UK, who led the interview programme, said: “While we cannot promise to change everything we do based on the insights from the interviewees, there are areas we can and will address in 2016, particularly relating to pipeline management, underwriting and claims.
“In January, we will be meeting with leading executives from each of the broking houses to discuss the actions we are taking.”
We have developed a huge amount of expertise and market knowledge from having such a broad customer base, which we can use to help brokers. Our team has a key role in ensuring that we are in regular dialogue with our counterparts in the broking houses, and that they have access to our expertise.
We also have to make sure we take on board the insights brokers are able to offer us, in terms of what clients are telling them.
Q. How is the Broker Stewardship Programme (see boxout) helping to improve Zurich’s relations with brokers?
Tim: We have a lot of informal interaction with brokers, but I think this is the first time we have ever carried out such a comprehensive research programme involving face-to-face interviews with brokers.
The real reason for the success of this initiative is the way it was structured and the quality of the questions that were asked. Holding face-to-face interviews enabled us to get a level of detail and understanding about why certain things were working and certain things were not working, something that would not have been possible through an email or online survey.
We also ensured the interviewers and interviewees did not know each other, so there were no preconceptions. This approach created greater transparency and provided real insight.
The real value of the information we obtained, of course, depends on how we act upon it. We appreciate that brokers have given up a lot of their time to make this a worthwhile exercise, and hopefully the improvements we are making will make their lives easier, and they will see the benefit of this exercise and will be happy to take part again.
For more information please speak to your local Zurich contact.