Pen's Perspective On… Staying Connected with Brokers and Businesses
Published On : 21 May 2020
BY NICK MILTON
To most of us working in ‘UK GI’, the month of May means one thing: Manchester.
This month’s mid-point sees the industry converge on the North-West city for an annual conference dose of all things British Insurance Brokers’ Association related.
It’s an insurance get together looked forward to by thousands.
But BIBA isn’t just about long days and (sometimes) long nights of keynote speakers, conference hall-pacing, industry networking and socialising. It’s where real business gets done: introductions made, challenges laid out, solutions explored.
All of which meant a pretty subdued start to this month, especially for those of us that focus on business development. With BIBA 2020 earlier confirmed as cancelled due to the current crisis, and rightly so, we faced no real prospect of any large scale broker and insurance market interaction. Not this month, and not for the foreseeable future.
And even if our lives weren’t still constrained by the need for social distancing, far better that Manchester Central got radically transformed from conference centre to NHS Nightingale Hospital than it played host to insurance market networking.
But that also meant none of those conversations - the conversations that take full advantage of the presence and availability of multiple specialists and decision makers all in one place, at one time - would happen.
So here in Pen, we decided we didn’t want ‘BIBA 2020’ to pass by unnoticed. We decided to create our own virtual conference to keep those conversations in the calendar. If we couldn’t do them in person, we’d look to recreate the fast-paced, packed agenda of BIBA’s ‘big Wednesday’ virtually – complete with lunchtime webinar on, well, what else but ‘Building and Nurturing Pipelines while Working Remotely’. And big thanks to Buki Mosaku of RosAcad for delivering that.
Fast forward to a week after our 13 May ‘virtual Pen conference’ and we’re busy building on business born out of a frenetic day that saw in excess of 100 meetings, with many of our existing broker partners or brokers we’re keen to work more closely with, and peopled by 35 members of our specialist underwriting, divisional heads and Executive leadership teams supported by Pen’s business development managers.
It goes without saying that the 30-minute, back-to-back meetings were restricted to the now-familiar but still less-than-ideal forum of video or conference calls. Pleased to say, the technology hung in there, and better than many feared, although there was no easy way to adjourn for a bite of food or drink to continue conversations in the usual convivial way.
But we made sure those ‘BIBA conversations’ still happened. And the broker feedback has been great.
Because the reality is, none of us can afford to wait for ‘normality’ to resume. We don’t even know what form that will ultimately take.
But what we do know is this. Businesses won’t stop facing risks they need help managing – whether they’re existing, new, shifting or emerging risks, as the world as we know it continues to change. And brokers won’t stop needing underwriters with a can-do attitude and focus on finding ways to quantify, price and accept risk, no matter what curve balls coronavirus or anything else throws at us.
So freeing up multiple diaries for one day, en masse, to focus purely on how we can support brokers to better support their business clients has proved hugely valuable.
In hope we look forward to the day when we can once more reserve our seats aboard the BIBA-bound express, and gather in person in Manchester for a full-on 48 hours of learning, connecting and doing business.
But what the success of our virtual ‘mini BIBA’ has taught us – and what we’re all learning more and more each day - is that we don’t need to physically come together to demonstrate our desire for overcoming obstacles, our tenacity for sourcing solutions, or our passion for forging new contacts and staying connected.
Now, more than ever, doing good business is built on engagement and proactivity, on finding ways to underwrite the future – while doing all we can to support customers through this incredibly difficult time.