The leader of AXA
’s commercial broker business has outlined ambitious growth plans for the next three years with a focus on mid-market growth, and stressed his confidence in the future of brokers.
Jon Walker, commercial intermediary MD, told Insurance Business that AXA
sees “more and more SME business being traded online out to 2020.” He said the insurer’s e-trade proposition, Connect, was a response to brokers’ need for an efficient solution that is quick and easy to use, “rather than a very manually labour intensive process, because the margin on the small end is tight for everyone.”
In an interview, Walker said the business has an “ambitious growth plan” extending out to 2020, and is seeing significant growth both in SME business and in schemes, which is underpinned by a focus on modernising the business and making it more efficient.
Part of that strategy is a commitment to local trading, despite a trend for local branch closures.
“We have no desire or plan to shrink our branch network in any way, shape or form,” he said. “Because actually as an industry, a lot of business gets transacted on the back of strong relationships between the broker and the insurer, and that works best… when the people locally know and trust each other.”
“That local trading piece, particularly on complex SME and mid-market business and above, is incredibly important. And we also want to get close to the customer with the broker as well, that’s the other key thing, and you can only do that if you are physically there,” he added.
Speaking on the idea that brokers could be facing extinction, Walker stressed that the concept was completely untrue.
“For the last 20 years, I’ve been reading various articles which suggest that the end of the world is nigh for brokers, and I just don’t see it,” he said. The challenge for brokers, he explained, is no different to any other business – to continue to add value.
“I think for as long as a broker can add value to a client and protect their business, and work with them to get the right product – at yes, a competitive price – with an insurer that’s going to have a strong claims service that sits behind it, or a risk management proposition, then the broker has a key role to play.”
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