Archway Insurance on "largest undertaking" in firm's history

Nine-month project a significant challenge for company and staff

Archway Insurance on "largest undertaking" in firm's history

Insurance News

By Bethan Moorcraft

Atlantic Canada-based Archway Insurance is the true definition of BUSY. Not only is the brokerage working through an aggressive consolidation strategy – they’ve added nine new locations via mergers and acquisitions (M&A) already this year – but they’re also deep into the largest IT project in the company’s history, moving 31 offices and 200 employees over to the Applied Epic cloud-based broker management system.

“It does make for a hectic work life, for sure,” said Archway CEO Michael Stack. “We’ve been working through a number of major projects in 2019. Just when you think something might slow down, we re-group and things speed up again. It’s very exciting and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Archway has grown significantly in the past few years after a number of notable acquisitions. As the brokerage has boomed, so has its need to digitize and streamline both internal and external operations. Stack commented: “For a big brokerage like Archway, when you’re trying to capitalize on scale, bring people together across offices, and operate more efficiently, technology plays a key role in that.”

As of October 2019, Archway’s employees are spread across three different broker management systems. This is due to the speed at which the brokerage has been acquiring firms and the ensuing complexity of bringing everyone together on one platform, explained Gina McFetridge, president of Archway Insurance. In July 2019, the firm kicked off a nine-month project – which McFetridge described as “the largest IT undertaking in Archway’s history” – to get all employees set up with Applied Epic.

“It’s an aggressive undertaking for an organization of our size, but it’s going really well. Our team is really engaged, excited and ready for this change,” McFetridge told Insurance Business. “It’s going to add a different level of connectivity between our offices, and it will reiterate who we are, how we do business, and how we operate this company.”

The timing of Archway’s digital streamlining is quite fortuitous for another reason. The firming insurance marketplace is forcing brokers to revisit and review more client accounts to try to retain business with specific markets, move business to new markets, and find some cost savings when lots of clients are facing double-digit premium increases. Having all Archway brokers on one cloud-based broker management system will “go a really long way in helping them do their jobs better” at this challenging time, according to McFetridge.

Stack added: “One advantage of clients doing business with some of the bigger players in the Atlantic Canada market is that we can provide choice. We have a wide variety of insurer partners, and we’re able to navigate and move clients around in order to smooth out any peaks and valleys in the marketplace. Creating a consistent client experience in terms of pricing, coverages, extra services and so forth, is what we’re aiming for – and new technology will help us to do that.

“The key element in the relationship between ourselves and our clients is communication. Just like any other relationship you have, communication is key. We’re trying very hard to have open communication with our clients through various media channels. For example, we’re using social media to share stories that we feel show a fair perspective of what’s going on in the hardening marketplace. We’re also using artificial intelligence and have provided a chatbot on our website, called Archie, who can answer basic questions from our clients. Then we have the Archway app, where clients have quick and easy access to policy documents, bills of sale, binders – things like that – to make their lives easier. Technology is helping us to create these open channels of communication – and I think we’re doing a great job.” 

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