The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is fast approaching a very significant milestone. In 2020, the association will host its 100th Annual Convention. That’s 100 years of representing insurance brokers in Ontario, 100 years of advocating for the distribution channel and facilitating connections between key industry stakeholders, and 100 years of bringing brokers together to learn, collaborate and evolve.
Incoming IBAO president, Joseph Carnevale, recognized the magnitude of this milestone in his address at the 99th IBAO Annual Convention in Toronto last week. He shared the theme for the coming year – Empowered – and his vision for the association and the broker channel, both of which he said have a “very bright future.”
Carnevale described a broker channel that’s “growing in influence every year” by cementing relationships with insurers that support brokers’ dominance as leaders in product, service, and profitable delivery. He referred to the talent pipeline which, contrary to popular belief, he was positive about. In fact, Carnevale shared his vision of lots of new young professionals joining the brokerage channel, and a new generation of leaders developing within brokerages who will “push forward with fresh ideas and a renewed energy.”
Despite his great optimism in the future of the broker channel, Carnevale is realistic about the fact that “times have changed.” He told the audience: “Today, direct writers and agents preach all day long to anyone that will listen. Here’s the thing - brokers are the best option for people purchasing insurance, period. We know it, your clients know it, our insurance companies know it, and it’s about time everyone else knows. We can’t continue to rely on our clients being born into a broker distribution family. We need to be methodical and aggressive in our efforts to educate the public on the benefits of using a broker. When people know what we do, when they know how we do it, they choose us.
“Next year is our 100th anniversary. That’s right – 100 years representing brokers, coming together, learning and celebrating at this convention, evolving alongside our membership and collaborating across our industry. What we’ve learned over the years is that today, where we are right now, we need to focus on three things: 1) outward marketing and promotion; 2) genuine effective collaboration; 3) your support for the IBAO.”
According to Carnevale, digital marketing and promotion is paramount to future broker success. In the past year, the association has targeted millennials with a digital marketing campaign, informing and educating them on the benefits of using a broker and challenging their perceptions on what it’s like to be a broker.
“The simple truth is that the more information we put in front of consumers, especially millennials, and the way that they want to receive it and interact with it, the bigger and better the results for brokers,” he said. “Many of you are experiencing these results yourselves. The beauty of digital marketing is you can pinpoint with very amazing accuracy the type of client you’re looking for, and, more importantly, the clients who are looking for what you have to offer.
“Marketing dollars can be used in extremely efficient and effective ways. This isn’t to say that traditional marketing isn’t effective. The purpose here is to target a generation that spends more than half of their waking hours on their phones. This is how we’re going to cut through the noise and make an impact with this demographic.”
The types of changes Carnevale is encouraging brokers to pursue require “belief and confidence,” he added. Change is scary. How do you set aside the correct budget to carry your brokerage forward into the digital future? How do you know that your succession plan is fit for purpose? How will you reel in future generations to secure your clientele for years to come?
“In business, if you’re not learning and growing, you’re shrinking,” Carnevale said. “Individuals and businesses are often afraid of what might go wrong, which paralyzes decision-making and results in the status quo. It’s OK to fear new things. It means you’re trying. You’re trying something outside of your comfort zone, and that’s OK, but push forward because that’s where success lives.
“I’m certain we can fulfil our vision. Between the aggressive outward facing marketing campaign to educate and inform the public on everything we do, the targeted recruitment campaign, your involvement in supporting this association by volunteering your time, your experience, your network, your belief and confidence in your own abilities, in your brokerages’ abilities and in our association - this is what’s going to make this vision a reality.”