What sets apart a great all-in-one pricing solution?

Navigating market challenges to drive strategic growth

What sets apart a great all-in-one pricing solution?

Business Resilience

By Mia Wallace

This article was produced in partnership with Earnix

Mia Wallace, of Insurance Business, sat down with Michael Williams, head of MGA pricing, data and analytics at Simply Business, to discuss what goes into a great pricing solution.

“BAU is fine but how do we then express, learn and stretch ourselves – and how do we get ourselves into the best position to really push on to that next stage?”

That is the question that energises and motivates Michael Williams (pictured), Simply Business’s head of MGA pricing, data and analytics, and his entire MGA team. And so, it holds them in good stead that it’s never a once-and-done question for Simply Business but rather a constantly moving target.

Find out more about the unique range of products and services available from Earnix today

Since joining the team eight years ago, Williams has seen the company go from strength to strength – with the MGA team alone increasing from four to 20 colleagues, while the wider group has increased from fewer than 300 people across two offices to over 1,000 employees across four offices in two countries. It has been a whirlwind journey, he said, and successfully navigating such a phenomenal rate of growth requires considerable strategic planning.

“With the [MGA] team growing at such a pace, we decided to do a strategic review at the tail end of 2017 to find out what we needed to do to be best-in-class, and to enable us to scale, and to have that agility and flexibility piece,” he said. “Having done that, we realised we needed to have a bit more focus around our technical pricing element. Our portfolio management, our underwriting and everything else is best in class, so how can we make sure that our whole MGA [offering] is best-in-class?”

With Simply Business’s technical pricing functionality identified as the key driver to Simply Business reaching that USP, the team entered into discussions with vendors across the market – and quickly zeroed in on Earnix as a potential partner. What stood out about Earnix, Williams said, was not just the solutions on offer but also the partnership-first approach they take to providing those solutions and ensuring they remain relevant and fit-for-purpose.

Earnix both recognised and rose to the challenge of creating a useable, scaleable product for the commercial lines space, given the lack of data that traditionally exists within it, he said. But the Earnix team also went one step further, identifying the governance and audibility considerations that go along with any such solution.

“That’s really key to us,” he said. “Because you have your static methods and manual documentation, but actually having that rigour and that true audit piece, that’s what set this apart as a great all-in-one solution that we could work with. One of the USPs that Earnix brings us is that everything is in one package, you don't have to bolt-on additional modules.

“With some other vendors in the market, you'll buy one package to build out your technical model and then you have to buy another module in order to deploy to the market. But it's all in-house and in one place with Earnix which is beautiful as it gives us one scaleable package that we can deploy to market really quickly.”

Simply Business has not looked back since the partnership began, he said, and has been deploying Earnix’s groundbreaking pricing solution with remarkable success since 2020. The MGA team’s deployment time has come down from months of requiring cross-functional support down to weeks – and in some cases even to a matter of hours.

Williams noted that having that end-to-end ownership of your pricing capabilities and not being reliant on other changes having to go live first is a “complete game-changer”. What’s been especially impactful for him and his team is having this functionality in place during the rapid upheaval of COVID and the ongoing tumult of the inflation spike.

“Inflation has definitely been the challenge for this year,” he said. “We are literally pushing the button with some further changes this week to allow our products to combat inflation but we’re well geared up for the inflationary challenges just due to how much work we did over the COVID period because we deployed and went live at the beginning of the pandemic.

“[It’s interesting] building models where you’re trying to predict customer behaviour and their tendency to buy at different price points because the understanding of customer behaviour essentially goes the window when you have a pandemic thrown into the mix! So, we’ve had that journey from how often we thought we’d have to optimise to how often we ended up having to optimise in order to react to changes in the market and government announcements.”

Simply Business has a substantial ‘high street book’, he said, which was especially impacted by the constant COVID-related shutdowns and as such, demanded great proactivity from insurance pricing to navigate rapidly shifting consumer demand. Being able to be so proactive, and to build such advanced predictive models and track consumer demand and behaviour has been integral to the company’s continued success.

“It has been a fun, but challenging time and a massive learning curve at the same time,” he said. “Because there was so much happening all at once across all of the market, it was all hands on deck. And that tooling allowed us to react to that market and come out of it in a really good position.

“We were one of the few insurers that were actually able to really grow in that space. Naturally, it was not at the rate we would have liked to but our books weren’t as severely impacted as some of the market has been. And it was great to be in a position to come out of that go into the [post-COVID] period and kick on from there.”

Working with a partner so keen to both shape and support your ambitious growth trajectory has been critical to the success of Simply Business in the last few years, Williams said, and has allowed the insurance businesss to really zero in on its core value proposition – that of delivering a valuable product to the customer. With Earnix’s proactive, predictive model capability strength behind it, Simply Business is well-placed to truly tailor prices to its customers based on their unique risk profiles, a proposition that is translating extremely well across the insurance ecosystem.

“What we’re able to do is be really fair to our customers and make sure we’re targeting the right cohorts of customers so they get the unique offering that they deserve,” he said. “One of our mantras at Simply Business is that we appreciate that every small business is different. And trying to provide cover to so many different businesses online is really a challenge but we’re here to make sure we can do that and provide an accurate price for that risk.

“And Earnix have been instrumental in working with us on that… It has been a long process but it has been a pleasurable experience…. They definitely push along to that next avenue and that next stage, and they’re always keen for us to test new solutions that they’re bringing to the market and we’re always happy to embrace that as well. I have nothing but good things to say about the partnership. And for anyone who tries to get me to move to another platform, I’m afraid I’ll have to humbly decline.”

Find out more about the unique range of products and services available from Earnix today.

Michael Williams joined Simply Business eight years ago. He now serves as the firm’s head of MGA pricing, data and analytics.


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