Aston Scott's Peter Blanc on challenging assumptions on client needs


  • Brokers mistakenly believe clients want us to shop around
  • Clients' needs can be summed up as peace of mind that their business is protected
  • Business owners could think shopping around is for them too

What brokers believe clients want can be far from the reality

As brokers, when we engage with clients we have to constantly challenge and remind ourselves that what we believe our clients want is very often quite different from the reality.

Many brokers mistakenly believe: clients want us to shop around the whole market every year to beat the premium down; a broker’s raison d’etre is to have access to all the insurers under the sun and to be able to obtain quotes from as many of them as possible; clients really value the time we spend marketing their risk to different insurers; clients want to understand the different nuances of the various policies we arrange for them; price is the number one buying factor. The list goes on.

Brokers can be forgiven for succumbing to these mistaken beliefs because clients sometimes fall into the same trap – believing that all insurance is the same and focusing solely on price as the driver for their decision making.

Importance of peace of mind
We spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to ensure that all of our staff – and, in turn, our clients – focus on the reality of clients’ needs, which can be summed up as peace of mind that their business is protected as far as possible against the worst the world can throw at it.

This has very little to do with premium, shopping around, policy wordings, commissions and individual schedules of insurance.

In reality, success comes from complete understanding: understanding the clients’ exposures fully; understanding their risk appetite and balance sheet; and understanding how they perceive insurance. To my mind, we’ve got it right when we create an insurance programme that stays in place for many years, a long-term three-way partnership between the insured, the broker and the insurer.

Shopping around
I understand why the Financial Conduct Authority is encouraging 'shopping around' in the personal lines arena. But when it comes to insuring companies, the message should be around achieving certainty and peace of mind – and that rarely goes hand in hand with an annual ‘chop and change to save 10%’ philosophy.

All businesses are run by people – and as a profession we must be very careful with the messages that we put out. If the message on personal lines is to shop around annually, then business owners can understandably believe that that is the right thing to do in their business lives as well. Our messages should all be around achieving peace of mind, certainty and balance sheet protection for clients’ businesses. Getting it right is so much more important than getting it cheap.

The Insurance Act has given all brokers an excuse to refresh their practices and processes to achieve this goal and it’s a great opportunity for us to remind businesses of the incredible value that a professional insurance broker can bring.

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