The broker’s role in an automated eco system: How COVID-19 is changing the game

By Sean Hanlon, Executive Director, Sales and Distribution at BrightRock

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The realities of the COVID-19 lockdown has meant that the world has been forced to do all their business virtually. Face-to-face meetings have been replaced by Zoom calls, travel has been banned, and processes have had to become paperless. Some have said that, in just a few weeks, this global crisis has catapulted us a good five years ahead in the way that we harness technology. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. 

This sudden change has been a bit jarring for the insurance industry, as we are a sector that generally lags behind the times when it comes to technology. However, companies like BrightRock have risen to the challenge and have devised ways of ensuring you can still get cover for your clients, especially at a time when many people are feeling vulnerable and more acutely aware of their own mortality. For example, our clients can now sign counter offer letters on WhatsApp, and are able to submit previous blood test results from the past year in order to apply for cover. 

As financial advisers, your business has always been heavily reliant on personal relationships and your ability to establish and maintain them. Our COVID-19 world is now demanding you do this differently. Ironically, technology that might have previously been seen as alienating and being a barrier for personal connection has now become the sole tool that can facilitate it. In addition, our current state of affairs has made people crave more personal contact (in this case a voice on the phone or a face on the screen), especially in situations where they may not have wanted it before. 

Financial advice is one of these situations. 

Taking out a life policy is always a big deal, and has become an even more emotional undertaking, I think, in these trying times. More so than ever before, people need reassurance and advice that speaks to their personal needs and worries – an aggregator or online insurance application cannot do this. 

In BrightRock’s opinion, the independent financial adviser remains the best aggregator and the most sophisticated technology available to clients. Financial advisers are uniquely qualified and experienced to find the perfect fit for their clients’ risk cover needs. In their ability to relate to their clients, like no online aggregator can, brokers are not only able to understand their clients’ concerns and their aspirations, but are able to relate those concerns and aspirations back to clients’ underlying financial needs. And in turn, are then able to relate those financial needs back to a life insurance solution that can adequately cater for them.

So what’s needed from you, as a financial adviser, to assist people in this new reality? I think you owe it to yourself and your clients to start using, or get better at, the platforms that they want to see you on. Get familiar with video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams so that you can chat to your clients ‘face to face’. These tools will continue to be popular post lockdown, I believe, now that people have seen how simple they are to use. They also remove the need for unnecessary travel and exposure, which is what everyone will be concerned about over the coming months.

Social media is also a great tool to help you get business and stay relevant. Having an active Facebook page or LinkedIn profile is a good way to regularly give advice to clients and show them that you know your stuff. It’s necessary to have a presence on social media, as these are the platforms that people now look for recommendations from their community. If you’ve made a client happy, then you need to make it easy for them to recommend you to others.

In conclusion, then, although technology might be taking centre stage in the era of corona, it is the personal relationships that remain important. Although we at BrightRock may have developed additional tools to help your clients get cover in these uncertain times, your role as facilitator, interpreter and co-creator is still key. It’s important to adapt and change the way you deliver advice in this connected world, especially as your relationship with your client does not just end when the policy has been sold. 

Sean Hanlon, Executive Director, Sales and Distribution at BrightRock