At a glance
- Our latest Broker Voice is Mike Dickinson, Sales and Marketing Director at Russell Scanlan
- He explains the challenges in demonstrating continued value to customers, and the importance of a positive online reputation
- A good perspective on these challenges can help brokers keep customers happy
Russell Scanlan serves businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. With its main presence in the Midlands – the new engine for growth – the brokerage has clients in engineering, manufacturing, technology and even microbrewing.
We spoke with Mike Dickinson, Sales and Marketing Director, about the challenges facing the industry and how his business is responding.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for brokers today?
A: By far, it is continuing to demonstrate the value of our expertise to customers. Some may believe that arranging insurance does not require any great skill or knowledge, but the reality is quite the opposite. To be effective brokers, we have to become experts in a range of complex industries – without that knowledge we cannot offer the best advice to clients.
Q: Do you think brokers’ added value is recognised?
A: Many of our long-standing clients certainly appreciate what we do for them, but nowadays there is definitely a lack of understanding among the general public about the value of having an insurance broker. It is a challenge for the whole industry.
Q: What industry changes keep you awake at night?
A: To be honest, none at all. I do take work home occasionally, and will sometimes curse some political or legislative developments, but a good perspective will win out. Having a good perspective makes me a very sound sleeper.
Q: If you were head of the FCA, what is the first thing you would do?
A: I would focus on recruiting more people with a clearer understanding of the day-to-day workings of the general insurance market. This would enable them to better address some of the poor practices that are still evident in the market.
Q: How important is a positive online reputation and use of social media for brokers?
A: Online reputation is incredibly important nowadays. Potential clients now do their research via websites and social media, and make their judgment based on what they find.
Reputation, trust, credibility and expertise have all got to come across well on those channels. Ignoring the power of online reputation is perilous.
Social media is an essential tool for us and a critical part of our communications strategy. Any outlet that gives us an opportunity to engage with our clients offers positive benefits. Twitter is a particular favourite for us.
Q: What do you see as the biggest emerging risks?
A: Cyber crime is a major risk to the general business community. Cyber crime is on the rise, as are claims, and attacks are becoming more sophisticated as technology advances.
The biggest challenge is that a lot of businesses do not consider cyber crime as a priority and have not prepared for its impact. We are investing considerable time at the moment into educating clients about the extent of this risk.
Q: Do you see underinsurance as a problem in the industry?
To be an effective broker we have to become experts in a range of complex industries; without that knowledge we cannot offer the best advice to clients.”
Mike Dickinson, Sales and Marketing Director at Russell Scanlan
A: We regularly spot situations where other brokers have not been checking sums insured carefully, which has the potential for their clients to be prejudiced in the event of a claim. We have been very active in ensuring our clients regularly review sums insured.
Q: Are you covered by D&O?
A: Of course, you have to practise what you preach.
Q. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to cover?
A: Having our own scheme for microbreweries and the craft beer trade is always a good conversation starter. It has been enormously successful, and with greater potential still.
Our current challenge is to use our expertise in this area to stay ahead of new entrants jumping on the bandwagon, who often have little or no knowledge of the particular needs of this market.
Q: Fees or commission?
A: Both have their place depending on the client. I think it’s unrealistic to try to re-educate smaller clients to understand why we are charging fees. For the larger, more complex cases, though, we want to be viewed as any other professional advisor, and a fee-based structure is definitely the way to go.