As the head of bank intermediaries for financial giant Suncorp, Mark Vilo deals with third-party professionals across insurance, mortgages and finance – but while the industries may differ, it seems the major obstacles often stay the same.
“It doesn’t really matter what third-party group we’re talking to – insurance brokers, mortgage brokers or financial planners – we often find they’ve got the same challenges,” Vilo told Insurance Business.
For industry newcomers, its takes relatively little to be recognised as a broker. Vilo said this lack of preparation leaves many without the skills they need to excel.
“We actually find that new brokers coming into the market don’t necessarily have the skills required to deal with even some of the simpler things, like handling objections, dealing with difficult customers or asking great open questions,” he said.
For more established third parties, the challenges are somewhat different, as they often run their own small business and have management issues to overcome.
“They need to be thinking about recruiting the right people for each role, building a meaningful scorecard for those people and then managing their performance – but brokers don’t necessarily have the prerequisite skills to do that,” Vilo said. “Typically, the things we hear from brokers are, ‘How do I grow my business, how do I manage my revenue, how do I control my expenses, and how do I deal with my team?’”
After hearing similar concerns and noticing similar skills gaps across the board, Suncorp decided to take action in order to better support its intermediary partners. Next month, it will officially launch its intermediated learning marketplace.
“We’ve been working closely with our aggregator partners to understand the needs of brokers and then we’ve leveraged the power of our organisation to source appropriate learning modules,” Vilo said.
One program offered in the marketplace is aimed specifically at brokers who have been in business less than 18 months, while another walks established business owners through techniques on how to best manage their individual employees.
“We’ve been running pilots around the country and the feedback has been fantastic every time,” Vilo said. “Even when I go along to one of these sessions, I always come out having learned something new or having had something reinforced.”