Aviva's small broker community is not a threat to networks or spurred on by consolidation in the regional market, said the company's managing director of intermediaries Phil Bayles.
Instead, he said, it was pushed by Aviva’s past failures to adequately look after the smallest regional brokers.
Bayles, pictured, told Post: “If truth be told we were providing great service to many regional brokers, but there’s 2000 odd brokers out there and I couldn’t hand on heart say that we were providing a brilliant service to those. We know from doing the research that many of them had sort of given up on the mainstream insurers and were relying on being serviced by managing general agents or relying on networks to try to cobble together things for them.”
Aviva’s initiative will see members of a small broker community get same-day quote responses from the insurer, in addition to access to development resources, compliance help and longer-term “financial deals”. These are tools that a broker could potentially access through the clout of a network.
However, Bayles said that working with networks would be key for the insurer.
“What we are keen to do is offer a better quality of service and more all-round support to them. It’s not anti-network, it’s just us saying this is what we want to offer to smaller brokers. We’ve got some decent network relationships and will work with those networks we work with to make sure we offer this proposition to network members, just as we will offer it to members who aren’t in networks.
“It is not trying to compete with networks. It’s more about trying to provide a better quality of service and more support to that large band of independent regional brokers. We will work hand in glove with the network if their members want to do that. It is absolutely not competitive to networks.”
Asked whether its community was a direct challenge to the consolidation that has gripped the industry in recent years, Bayles denied this. He also admitted that the scheme would not stem the tide of consolidation.
He added: “It’s not driven by that. Where we come from is, we’ve said we will support independent brokers. It is an inherently good thing that communities have got independent brokers. They provide employment, they effectively provide risk management services and provision to the businesses and the individuals who are in that community. We also recognise the challenges they face as small organisations within an industry where there’s lots of regulation, there’s lots of money flying around to acquire.
“What we want to do is make sure we are putting our best foot forward with those brokers. We want to be able to look ourselves in the eye and say we are not for a smaller number of the larger independents and we look after those really well and it’s job done. We are saying we want to provide something for all independent brokers that can help all of them do well.
“In the long run we think that will help nurture the sector to help it survive and indeed thrive. But it’s a long term strategy, it’s not a let’s keep people away from consolidators strategy. Consolidation will happen, given the age profile of brokers, given the amount of money flying around the system. Consolidation will happen and there is nothing inherently wrong with consolidation. We work very happily with a large number of people who buy brokers. As I say, there is nothing inherently wrong with it. We want to give smaller independent brokers a chance.”
Research conducted by Aviva found that smaller brokers with gross written premiums of £1m or less can feel “isolated” and “overlooked”.
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