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Flying without dials, and the value of data

We sit down with Andy Whiteley, Head of Management Information at Broker Network, to hear more about the importance of keeping an eye on the numbers, why brokers might not have their reporting optimised, and what to look out for when researching MI support.

The lifeblood of a business

“If you don’t keep track of your MI, you’re essentially flying blind,” Andy states, “gut instinct and experience can take you so far, but from my experience, the most successful businesses I’ve worked with are the ones that keep an eye on their data. Sometimes, it can even be nice just having the figures to confirm your instincts.”

There is a wealth of information out there on MI and how keeping your house in order can help add value to your business. To summarise though, Andy splits the benefits into two categories:

1. Identifying opportunities

2. Identifying risks

Put simply, when you have a firm understanding of your data, you are much better placed to identify issues or new opportunities in advance and respond pro-actively rather than re-actively. This in turn means that rather than fire fighting, insurance brokers can invest time more constructively, for instance using the data to negotiate with insurers and making strategic decisions based on book analysis.

Why some brokers struggle tracking their MI

With such clear benefits to reliable and accessible MI, we ask Andy why adoption isn’t universal. “I suspect part of it is down to the logistics of setting up,” Andy reflects, “the simple fact about MI is that anyone can do it, and you can do it in-house if you want. However, you read about four days a month being lost to red tape and for some brokers, the drive to spend time with their clients means that dedicating time on strategy can seem like a luxury.”

“Anecdotally, we’ve spoken to brokers who have been spending two or three days a month managing their MI manually. That’s a big commitment. Now, organising your data can be outsourced, but there are so many providers out there that I can see how even knowing where to start could seem daunting.”

What brokers should look for in an MI system

Broker Network has invested a lot of time researching our MI systems in order to create a platform designed by brokers for brokers. Whilst it is only available to our Members, it gives us some good insights to share on what independent insurance brokers should be looking for when they are researching providers.

It’s worth ensuring that the overall feel and user experience meet your expectations; you want to be able to quickly and clearly visualise trends, but here are some of the things we recommend looking out for that might not be so obvious:

1. Automate. Two of the reasons you want to automate your MI is to save time and ensure the accuracy and consistency of your reports. It’s important to clarify that systems are fully compatible and the system you use is sleek enough that it will genuinely take the load off your shoulders.

2. Integrate. There are a lot of systems out there which try and cover everything, but it can be surprisingly difficult to find one that integrates with everything. As an insurance broker, a lot of your back office systems will be specialist, and whilst they will typically have a reporting facility, these tend to be a ‘silo view’, i.e. they won’t combine with data from separate sources. When we were working on our MI Dashboard, one of the targets was to include all the systems our brokers use in one place and be able to target the root cause of a problem within three clicks – this is a good rule of thumb if you are reviewing your setup.

3. Context. They say it can be lonely running your own business, but your business intelligence should help you see how you are performing in the context of the wider industry. To give you some examples, our MI Dashboard can tie in with our Organic Growth Programme to track the impact of campaigns, as well as the ability to see how your figures compare to other insurance brokers for an idea on benchmarks (anonymously of course!). Think about what industry benchmarks would be valuable to your business and find an MI system that can accommodate.

One of the most satisfying things with MI can be when you’ve been tracking data manually across multiple systems, and then you bring it all into a single comprehensive report. Fortunately, once the data is being collected, bringing it all under the one dashboard can be as quick as flicking on a switch. With the benefits you stand to gain, it’s well worth investing a little bit of time finding the right MI partner for your business; it can pay dividends in the long run.

If you have any questions about this article then please feel free to get in touch. Already a Member? Contact your BDM if you are keen to learn more about our MI Dashboards.

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