Brightside Group CEO: “Digital is the way the world is going”

Major UK brokerage issues its half year trading results after a “very tough” prior year

Brightside Group CEO: “Digital is the way the world is going”


By Bethan Moorcraft

Nurture the niche and invest in tech – that’s the message from Brightside Group’s chief executive Mark Cliff, who is steering the company on the road to recovery after a rocky 2016.

Brightside Group’s half year (H1) trading results showed improving returns after a “very tough” prior year. The Group has delivered a 57% increase in EBITDA for H1 compared to the same period last year, alongside a “positive” uptake in policy count.

“These are of course early days but it is the first time in four years that the policy count has increased,” said Cliff. “I’m also especially pleased that our renewal income is well above plan (at nearly £7.7 million), reflecting improvements to renewal pricing and customer contact.”

Cliff is half-way through a five-year turnaround strategy for the Group, which began in 2015/16. As part of that transformation, the broker took an EBITDA hit in 2016, while it invested in new technology and internal re-organisation.

As part of that re-engineering, the Group invested in fraud-detection technology at the point of quote (which not many brokers have) to reduce fraudulent activity within its motor portfolio. By doing so, it has managed to reduce the amount of fraudulent activity from 35% to 1.7%.

Cliff has also introduced an increased focus on digitisation and technology. Brightside Group is looking at how to incorporate robotics, voice activation, machine learning and other virtual interfaces to “improve efficiency, productivity and generate better customer service,” he said.

“Offline sales and marketing will remain part of Brightside’s overall proposition, but we will continue to invest where technology can improve the customer experience,” Cliff commented. “Digital is the way the world is going – and we want to be a part of that. Just look at how we live our lives outside of work. The internet of things is taking over and the home online retail environment is booming.

“Customers still want to have a relationship with the insurer or the broker, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to talk to someone. It can be a digital relationship where we reinforce messages to our clients via their preferred channels.”

Digitisation also lends itself well to niche product lines because it allows the company to “really laser in” on the product, according to Cliff. Nurturing the niche via technology and generating unique capacity in specialist product lines is another secret to the broker’s growing success. 

The Group’s brands include Brightside (for Brightside Car and Van), One Insurance Solution (OIS) for business and personal insurance, CVD (Commercial Vehicle Direct), eCar and eBike. It also has a number of specialist brands, including IQED (medical reporting), Quote Exchange (Fintech), and ProSport, a specialist insurer for professional and semi-pro sports people. 

The Brightside Car panel has grown from nine schemes in 2015 to 19 today, while Brightside Van has gone from seven schemes at launch to 14 schemes now. The Group has revamped its insurer capacity and has just signed a major lead transfer contract with MORE TH>N.

In addition, Cliff has now secured capacity for Brightside’s MGA, which is expected to begin trading van and car next year. As the company goes “from strength to strength” it might look at further MGA opportunities and small acquisitions to reinforce organic growth, he said.   

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