Communication is one of the most important aspects of the agent or broker role. As business intermediaries, agents and brokers need to be able to switch voices depending on which stakeholder they’re addressing. When talking to carriers, for example, they often turn into negotiators, working towards the best possible solutions and prices to match their clients’ unique needs. But when talking to clients, agents and brokers must put their educator hats on, as people will only buy insurance for a risk if they understand they have that risk in the first place.
An agent or broker’s success revolves partly around their mastery of these communications. Whereas in the past, this was primarily down to the skill of the individuals, now there are tools and technologies available that are somewhat levelling the playing field. Through simple data analytics tools, intermediaries have access to charts, graphs, and benchmarking comparisons that assist with the visualisation of risk – something proven to help clients understand their exposures better.
One firm to really get on board with risk technology and promote the benefits of data analytics tools is the global insurance brokerage, risk management and advisory firm, Willis Towers Watson (WTW). The firm has developed a suite of tools, including its proprietary Connected Risk Intelligence tool, launched in April 2019, to help commercial clients gain a holistic understanding of their risks in a language that’s accessible to all stakeholders.
“We’ve developed a suite of tools that are designed to be used by our brokers with our clients,” said John Merkovsky, head of risk and analytics at WTW. “These tools empower our clients to make the best possible decisions about risk management and insurance. They’re designed to help our brokers engage with clients on a whole new level and to enable our brokers to have the best conversations in the industry.
“The visualisation of risk is really important. By engaging clients through technology, and translating risks with things like charts, graphs, and key numbers, brokers can transform the language of insurance so that it’s relevant to corporate decision makers, who often are more learned in the language of finance.”
At WTW, it’s becoming more of a mandatory expectation for brokers to use models and engage clients through technology, explained Merkovsky. But in a company that size – WTW has more than 45,000 employees across 140 countries – not every broker will be naturally tech-sufficient.
“There’s a lot of research out there about the nature of humans and their willingness to accept new things,” commented Merkovsky. “What are organisations but groups of humans? The number of humans that accept innovation is statistically about 2%, and the early adopters are maybe another 15%. But we’re living in a world that’s about innovation and early adoption, and so we’re really trying to drive that at WTW.
“We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time and effort focused on training our employees and hiding a lot of the complexity in these tools. You don’t have to be an actuary to be able to run our tools, and the questions in our core models are designed around the way that professionals think. Our models are very simple on the outside, but they’re built around some extremely complex algorithms and data feeds on the inside. It’s a bit of a cultural shift. While our brokers are experts at insurance, they’re not necessarily fully versed in the nomenclature of the finance world, but we’re doing a lot of training around that.”