Insurance brokers have been unified in their criticism of insurers’ business development managers, branding them everything from mere "postmen" to "widget salespeople".
Debate was sparked by BJS Insurance Group’s Bill de Vos, who stated that BDMs are not qualified to understand the risk profiles brokers present and have no authority to provide solutions.
Insurance Business’ broking community was quick to come out in support of de Vos’ views.
“If you ever see a postman (oops sorry) a BDM, most if not all seem to have no authority and need to find a reason to exist,” commented Grant Goldner. “This is usually trying to become an unnecessary middle man to break down, re-represent what you have spent hours professionally preparing for a mysterious and well protected underwriter. Imagine if an insurer gave some authority to a BDM – wow!”
Peter Barfoot said: “Insurers need to empower and educate their BDMs to be competent to negotiate face-to-face with brokers who are the ones that know their clients and their risk profiles.”
One overriding point seems to be the rise of insurers using online platforms, which has changed the interaction between brokers and BDMs.
“Insurers shouldn't hide behind online platforms,” said Justin Geldart. “Every risk is different, and online platforms are not capable of catering for those intricacies.
"A similar problem exists for "sales" type BDMs where they are not involved in the actual underwriting process. There is a risk of important information being "lost in translation",” continued Geldart. “With industries becoming more regulated, and clients becoming more focussed, a "one-size-fits-all" approach simply won't work. We need more specialisation – not less,” added Geldart.
“I commend and support Bill de Vos's comments,” said Phil McGuire. “The strategies employed by insurers these days are to disempower BDMs and make them responsible purely for sales of the insurer's products.
“Insurers can really go outside the "experience" of the industry and employ "widget salespeople" to do the role as most BDMs no longer have any underwriting authority. The reliance on electronic delivery platforms is creating another problem – an industry driven by 'machine decisions' and not underwriting.”
Arnold Getz added that insurers care more about direct advertising than their brokers and Richard Welch said the problems with insurers’ online portals is even worse in rural areas where the risks are so unique.
Broker: insurers’ BDMs do not understand us