Our CEO Sharon Bishop discusses how brokers have made huge efforts to support their clients during lockdown.
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The optimism among brokers which greeted the beginning of 2020 contrasts sharply with the sober mood in our industry now.
Brokers made herculean efforts to support their clients throughout the crisis. Having swiftly moved to remote working, they got on with the job, fielding and dealing with thousands of calls from worried clients as the lockdown gripped the country in March.
Tough trading conditions were exacerbated by a tsunami of worried clients asking brokers for help managing cashflow. One survey, from Edinburgh Business School found that 68% of the UK’s most dynamic entrepreneurs had cashflow issues, up from 28% pre-crisis, and 59% experienced a significant fall in business turnover.
In times of crisis it’s ok to ask for help, and it was vital that broking, and those, like Close Brothers Premium Finance (CBPF), who work with brokers, all stood together. It quickly became apparent that many commercial clients were going to need help with their premium payments. CBPF went above and beyond the prescribed guidelines to support all customers, including extending forbearance measures to ease the pressure for commercial clients too.
I am convinced that early support to safeguard clients’ cashflows counted for a lot. In a crisis, people remember who helped them, and who didn’t. In a nervous market where the very value of insurance has been questioned, maintaining a good client relationship is critical, especially when the public see little distinction between brokers and insurers.
Of course, while we must stay vigilant, there are welcome signs appearing of a return to some sort of normality, not least the start of the re-opening of the hospitality sector on 4 July, but the pandemic will exert a powerful influence on business and society well into the future.
Brokers more than ever relied on technology to manage their way through the crisis, and the use of technology is likely to accelerate. The pandemic also taught me how critical it was to look after the welfare and well-being of colleagues. And that extended to our brokers. In a crisis you find out who your friends are, and I am proud of our role in supporting our broker partners support their clients. We really were, and are, all in it together.