In a post-COVID landscape, the future of work poses a very current conundrum. It’s a challenge for many businesses, of every size and across every industry, but for those who embedded a focus on people and culture into the marrow of their organisations, conversations around the future of work present nothing less than a golden opportunity.
John Warburton (pictured), co-founder and CEO of Konsileo – a tech-enabled, self-managed broker that was recently named one of Insurance Business’s Fast Brokerages 2022 – has pitched the business as “the future of broking” since its inception and is passionate about playing an explicit part in the future of work movement. Konsileo is grounded by a very active internal philosophy, he said, one which is derived from Frederic Laloux’s book on ‘Reinventing Organizations’.
That work charts how an organisation can be a future-orientated employer, and Konsileo used that as a founding idea in its early days of recruiting brokers. Of course, when you only have a small team, he said, it can be difficult to actually visualise what that culture is going to look like, as it’s so dependent on the few individuals who make it up.
“But now we’ve got nearly 60 brokers and a bunch more starting in the coming weeks,” he said. “So, we’ve got a structure where we can really start to understand that culture. What our future of work focus meant was that when the pandemic came, we were in a brilliant place – both operationally given our technology and that the organisation was already somewhat virtualised, but also because we were in a position to be able to go out and say, ‘we’re here, we’re hiring and we’re a great place to be’.
Konsileo has been able to add a variety of talented brokers to its roster, while growing its business 100% year-on-year for the last few years, now hitting around the £25 million run-rate GWP mark. He firmly believes that the broker’s employee proposition is the key factor underpinning both its talent attraction and organic growth, and that proposition is formed of three elements – that its brokers will be the happiest, best rewarded and most professional brokers they can be.
“We give weight to each of those elements,” he said. “So, happiest is about no line management. No-one’s ever going to tell you in Konsileo that half your book is going to be moved to a call centre somewhere else. You’ve got no line management but you do have really supportive, collaborative relationships with colleagues. People can choose to team up with whomever they want, anywhere in the organisation, anywhere in the country… And just the tone of the way our people collaborate is fantastic.”
The ‘best rewarded’ string to Konsileo’s employee proposition bow is centred on its compensation model. Warburton said the broker believes it has the most generous positioning in the industry in terms of the percentage of someone’s book that they can have as personal comp. That’s a powerful tool in and of itself, he said, but the group also leverages its resources to help its people succeed in delivering the size of the book through marketing support, etc.
“Then the most professional part flows from the system itself,” he said. “Our system has compliance by design embedded within it. We have our own proprietary system, and that’s designed to facilitate the model we want to [foster]. It enables the collaboration part, it enables people to team up together and we reckon it reduces up to 50% of the process time as you go through the insurance cycle. That particularly lands at renewal. Prepping a renewal review for us is a matter of minutes because all the information is already in the system, and you’ve maintained it throughout.”
Its professional edge is also bolstered by the access that Konsileo ensures its team has to coaches and mentors. Those coaches are dedicated to ensuring each team member is the best insurance broker they can be, he said, and sitting behind that is Konsileo’s training regime and the apprenticeship scheme it is running with the CII. The broker recently celebrated being awarded Chartered status, which was in no small part due to its training programme.
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“Our employee proposition is our business strategy,” he said. “It would be very difficult to look at any of our competitors and say that is true. I would go so far, without being too controversial, to say that for many of our competitors, their business strategy is the financial returns demanded by their private equity funding partners… So, their business strategy becomes more about margin increases through insurer deals, etc. rather than organic growth.
“We [at Konsileo] are achieving 100% year on year, organic growth, and we haven’t bought anything. We’ve recruited people and we’ve turned them into Konsileo people through a real sense of affinity with our culture but we haven’t bought any firms. Our growth is entirely organic and that’s quite rare if you look around the industry now.”
For Warburton and his team, it’s the approach that makes the most sense as there simply aren’t that many brokers left to buy, so the natural shift in the marketplace is going to have to be towards organic growth. Konsileo is already there, he said, taking an approach to growth that is “back to the future” as it’s all about unlocking the performance of professional insurance brokers by supplying them with the support necessary, without micromanaging them.
Looking to the future, he noted that the emphasis for the team is on continuing to build out the organisation. 2022 is the year Konsileo really arrived, he said, and it’s coming out of the pandemic as a force to be reckoned with.
“We have the ambition to double the organisation or more in the next 12 months,” Warburton added. “So ideally, we’d like to be recruiting between four and eight people every six weeks or so, or every couple of months. We want as many good people as we can get and we’ve got a pretty rigorous process for finding them, you’ve got to earn your place at Konsileo…
“But we’re actively recruiting, we have two people in-house whose full-time role is just going to be recruiting… Because [our employee proposition] is our growth strategy. If we make Konsileo the best place to be an insurance broker, then we’ll grow. It’s as simple as that.”