Ah those mean old insurance brokers – racking up their profits and squeezing as much out of their clients as they possibly can: it’s a horrible perception that sadly still lingers over certain segments of the industry at a time when nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, speak to many insurance brokers, as we do regularly here at Insurance Business, and they’ll be quick to tell you that they got into the industry because they liked the idea of solving problems for clients, and that insurance has the power to pick people up during their most difficult and trying times. Not only that, but many brokers also want to play a wider role in society, contributing wherever possible to the local community – as a recent Ecclesiastical survey serves to prove.
The specialist insurer found that 76% of the 250 brokers it surveyed believe it is important for their business to contribute positively to society – and their motives are well intentioned too. Some 78% said they want to make a difference, while 71% said they want to give back to their customers – although 76% also admitted they wanted to improve the reputation of their business at the same time.
The form of their contributions can take many forms. Take for example the case of Lansdown Insurance Brokers in Cheltenham – a firm that has been part of its local landscape for half a century. Its support for local charities has become a vital part of its success and in 2015 it made a commitment to offer its backing to a different local charity every six months. It is currently supporting The James Hopkins Trust with staff having raised an impressive £8,750 – enough to provide respite care for two children for an entire year.
“There are so many worthy causes in the county and we wanted to find a way to support as many as possible,” said Darren Bee, commercial manager at Lansdown. “It was also really important that we were able to make a real difference, so we aim to raise at least £5,000 during the six months, which is a substantial sum of money for most small local charities.
“As a local broker many of our customers will know or have been involved with the local charities we support and while there are lots of deserving national causes we felt it was really important to support those that could benefit our customer base.”
Then there is the case of Chartered Insurance brokers Pound Gates, which is focusing on community investment. Part of a group of companies owned by Kevin Collins, the firm has committed to commercially support businesses in the wider area and has also partnered with Suffolk Community Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting local charities. Twice a year it presents Pound Gates staff with a range of grants for consideration.
“All of the grant applications are from very small charities within a 20-mile radius of our office in Ipswich and are aligned to our corporate giving themes of supporting people’s health and wellbeing,” said Del Sharman, Pound Gates director.
“We get all members of staff involved in voting for their preferred grants and the one with the most votes wins. After each grant is awarded we arrange for members of the team to visit and see the difference that we are making to people’s lives. We also look for volunteering opportunities with those charities so that we can support them in other ways and not just financially.”
Finally, there is the tale of SEIB Insurance Brokers, the specialist that launched a £50,000 grant scheme to support small-medium charities in the UK last year. The broker engaged with its customer base asking them to support charities close to their hearts.
“We didn’t want to dictate to our clients which charity they should support, we wanted to learn more about the good causes that they believe in and provide an opportunity for our clients to engage with us in a new way,” explained Barry Feher, CEO at SEIB.
The £50,000 grant was ultimately awarded to The British Horse Society, a charity which aligns to SEIB’s business and resonates with its customer base.
Supporting local charities has become a staple of the insurance broker – the stuffy image of old is gradually disappearing to be replaced by one that shows brokers in a new, and richly deserved, light.