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The fear of change is the greatest barrier to technology adoption among brokers


Andrea Lubeck

14 August, 2018 07:00

Photo : Freepik

Among the factors that explain the adoption part of the technology by the broker, we find the fear of change, the high cost of implementation and the lack of time. Nevertheless, the adoption remains a key determinant for the survival of firms.

A report by the Centre for study of insurance operations (CSIO) demonstrates that brokers don’t adopt fully the various technological tools that are available to them. If the national average adoption rate of these tools is 75 % for 2017, Quebec is not so bad figure, with a rate of 71 %.

Rather, it is in Manitoba, where the brokerage firms exhibit a delay in the adoption of the technology, whether the electronic signature, social media or a website adapted for mobile devices, where the average rate is 59 %. The Nova Scotia harvest to the first place with an average rate of 87 %.

To arrive at these results, the CSIO has asked the brokerage firms to fill in a form of technology assessment and to indicate the tools that everyone uses. Luc Corbeil, director, information technology at Groupe Ultima, believes that this exercise is an excellent opportunity for brokers to do an introspection on their use of technology.

“It helped raise awareness among the brokers and the various actors on these tools. They can think about their future and the role that they can play, the technology, ” he states.

Group Ultima is first and foremost a wholesaler. However, the company also offers a broker management system (BMS) and also plays the role of provider of software. The platform UG2 is available exclusively to member firms of Ultima, which means that they are not officially in the dynamic market of suppliers of BMS, ” said Luc Corbeil.

Fear of change

The first factor explaining the rate of adoption is fear of change. The portrait of the demographic diversity of the brokerage network in Quebec and in Canada displays all the brokers highly advanced technologically, that brokers who use little technology, ” says Kevin Campbell, president and chief executive officer of Policy Works.

“The habits of brokers are difficult to change. Despite all of the connectivity that exists, some choose to function with email, ” he says.

However, the game is worth the candle, explain, Luc Corbeil and Ascher Berros, manager of strategic projects at Groupe Ultima. The company has even changed its own internal systems and is said to have met with reluctance on the part of its employees.

“Change management has been a consistent effort,” says Luc Corbeil. We worked a lot on this with our employees. In the end, they are very happy. Even if the process of change has been grueling and they were out of breath at the end of the project, even going so far as to question the performance of the tool and the process more fluid the meet. They now see the benefit of this change. “

Moreover, the resources, whether of time, money, or labour, are failing to brokerage firms to be able to properly implement the technological solutions and the different features of the BMS.

“The technological tools are expensive. The broker can return. They should see them as investments for their future, ” says Ascher Berros.

“We need to educate our members on the benefits and value that the scanning of the network brokerage brings to their business,” adds Stephanie Wei, communications director of the CSIO. It is one of the key pillars of our strategic plan to increase the digital skills of brokers. We educate with white papers, articles and webinars. “

David Larkin, president of the supplier of the BMS Software association supplier advisory council, adds that the lack of time and lack of training are also key points. “New technologies emerge every day. We want to capture attention, raise awareness and update the brokers who use our BMS with a system of alerts in which we will share our news. “

John Bilodeau, chairperson of the committee on technology of the Regroupement des cabinets de courtage d’assurance du Québec (RCCAQ), however, emphasises that the technology tools allow for good growth. “The technology allows a new form of customer approach which could lead to the business case of this investment. “

Laurent Nadeau and Natasha Joyal, respectively, vice-president of sales and marketing and director of development at Technologies Keal, add that to the brokers, simply to remain up to date can be difficult. “Every day there is something new. The brokers have the difficulty to choose what they need. This is why the broker must be able to make an analysis of costs compared to profits, ” they say.

Make a call to an analyst

Ascher Berros, Group Ultima, suggests to the dealers and the suppliers of BMS to do business with a business analyst. “It will be able to map the different processes, and determine which ones have a good and a less good value for the broker to bring it to automate these functions and replace them with processes with higher added value,” says Mr. Berros. After completing this exercise, several brokers have told us that they are thus able to make more sales or spend more time with their clients. “

The different choices of BMS may also be a source of confusion. The offer on the market is varied and the features of each software are many.

“It’s not necessarily that young people who work in the industry. Often, brokers have started their career when everything was on paper. Then came the management via an Excel spreadsheet. Now, we are in a new dynamic. It is necessary to guide, advise, accompany. For some, using a BMS is a big effort. Our role is to get further than the BMS and bring them to a platform is more integrated, which offers them more functionality, ” explains Mr. Berros.

Paul Fletcher, senior vice president, distribution at Aviva Canada, believes that, in order to make an informed decision, brokers should also think of the cabinet tomorrow and make their technology choices as a result. “They have to think about the type of business they want and choose the BMS that will meet these criteria. They should also consider the aspirations of the provider of the software. How does it improve the connectivity and transactions ? These are all important aspects for the broker so that the average cost per transaction down, ” he said.

On the side of the insurers, although the multiplication of the number of suppliers of BMS to be able to make the connectivity with each of them more complex, the variety is necessary, a question of healthy competition. “It is good for the brokers. If there is this competition, the suppliers strive to innovate, to be better, ” adds Mr. Fletcher.

Maintain a dialogue in order to reduce the complexity

“Each BMS is in a different phase of development. To maintain a dialogue with the suppliers helps us to reduce the complexities. It is certain that it would be easier to have only one solution, but the balance that we find in Canada is healthy, ” he admits.

All are clear : dealers are required to adopt these technologies in order to survive and to compete with direct insurers, whose financial means are important. Jeff Purdy, senior vice-president of internal operations at Applied Systems, believes that brokers have at their disposal to arrive to offer the same level of service and meet the needs of the consumers that the direct. It is enough to adopt the tools.

“Direct insurers have portals to customers where the insured can make changes themselves, they allow a transaction to be concluded on their website. Dealers can measure up to them if they adopt the technology. For a customer, the experience can be the same as in a direct if they have a good BMS and good tools that do the same things “, he says.

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