Sharon Bishop's blog with Insurance Age for Premium Finance Week - the importance of technology

Our CEO Sharon Bishop discusses the importance of technological and digital support.
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Technological and digital support has never been as important to business survival than as it is today, and broking is no different.

As broking comes to terms with the immense disruption and business chaos caused by the pandemic, operational flexibility and a willingness to use technology are essential to help brokers successfully navigate the current disruption and help businesses cope as they re-open after the lockdown.

The government acknowledged early in the crisis that protecting cashflow would be critical for the economy, and that remains the case today. For millions of businesses, commercial insurance premiums are hardening, albeit slightly, so owners will pay a little more for their insurance when cashflow is likely to be tight, especially in hospitality, travel, taxi and other badly hit sectors.

A struggling economy will add further pressure on businesses to manage their cashflows, including spreading the cost of insurance. It’s why at Close Brothers Premium Finance (CBPF) we’re so excited by Payment Services, which brokers use to give their clients a straightforward, easy-to-use means of choosing how to pay for their insurance. It is a proposition that meets a growing demand to make insurance affordable, and, provides a technology solution for flexible payments in an increasingly digitised world.

Our February, 2020 broking survey found that 88% of UK brokers offer premium finance to their clients and of those, 75% consider it to be a material, important or critical revenue stream. 64% said it enables clients to purchase cover that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

For the 88% of UK brokers who offer premium finance, giving clients a choice is already a given. But the new economic reality means they can make premium finance much more integral to their business, especially as increased finance penetration brings additional commission revenue.

For commercial brokers, the personal touch in maintaining strong client relationships will always be critical, but in future operational functions, such as premium payments, will be done by AI. And slicker, faster, hassle-free payment systems carrying much more choice is what commercial clients will expect; not only helping to spread their payments in order to stay protected, but to conserve cashflow. For brokers, Payment Services enable them to make a better offer to clients and, resulting in more choice for their clients, as well as offering the potential for increased revenue. Administration is minimal and they don’t have to chase payments. 

Our ambition is that as many as 1000 commercial brokers will use our Payment Services technology in due course, and I’m convinced more compelling technology propositions will be launched that are more attuned to the emerging broking environment.