​Helping brokers break into new markets: In Conversation with Ming Wan

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It’s been a year of change, disruption and uncertainty for brokers. But as confidence returns to the market, we’re seeing a growing handful of brokers take proactive steps to build back stronger and steal a march in the post-Covid world.

We chatted to ERS’ New Business Manager, Ming Wan, to hear why he thinks now is the ideal time for brokers to think about expanding and diversifying into new markets…

Remind us of your current ERS role and what it involves

I’m ERS’ New Business Manager. My role breaks down into three areas. I take our latest campaigns and initiatives out to market, firstly to uncover new potential broker partners and secondly to identify new opportunities for ERS amongst our existing broker network. The third part of my role is to help manage the onboarding of new brokers and opportunities to ensure we start to successfully engage across the business and start generating mutual value – my role of New Business Manager doesn’t stop until both ERS and our partners are happy.

Tell us about some of the recent conversations you’ve been having with brokers?

Every broker has been affected by the pandemic in some way, shape or form. But it’s been encouraging to hear from brokers that have responded by making proactive changes to their business. Many have gone fully digital; others find that they can reach clients in new parts of the UK.  

One key discussion point is around brokers that wish to diversify into new and different markets to generate incremental income lost through the pandemic and to mitigate risks from any future lockdowns. It makes a lot of sense given the disparity between how markets such as courier and transportation are performing, compared to, say, hospitality and leisure which have borne the brunt of lockdowns. 

In addition, brokers are looking at ways they can make their client relationships stickier, given that so many people are now more financially conscious and may shop around for their insurance. We know that the more policies a customer has, the better retention tends to be. This is why we’ve invested heavily into creating a breakdown product that covers a range of specialist vehicles from classics to taxis and horseboxes and why we’re encouraging brokers to talk to their clients about adding things like breakdown cover to their existing policies.

How easy is it for brokers to enter new markets?

Well, it depends on their current business and which market they’re looking to target. But, in general, the transition from insuring a catering vehicle to insuring a truck is much easier than transitioning from insuring a house to insuring a truck! More often than not, moving into a new market isn’t as significant as you might imagine and it’s just a question of providing the creative spark to get brokers thinking about new possibilities. That’s why we’ve been running our Stay Connected webinars throughout the pandemic to ensure our community is fully aware of our motor products and how they’re traded.

I’ve seen examples of where a broker has access to ERS eTrade, has seen that they have access to several ERS Commercial products when they typically only write Taxi. They’ve simply created product specific pages on their website to see if they can drive new business in an area that they’ve never really targeted. They’ve used this approach as a pilot to test the market before dipping their toe in further. 

Now that they’ve seen some growth, they’ve recruited a new team member and upskilled another to drive more engagement from the customers. Many of our products are open market and our specialist underwriters can help once we understand your strategy.

Are there any risks involved in this type of diversification?

Brokers mustn’t lose sight of their core business or their ability to provide excellent service. The reason people use a broker is for the service and access to experience and expertise. You have to know your stuff in the areas you’re trading, and there’s no getting away from the fact that some products are highly specialised and won’t be suitable for every broker.

Just how widespread is this activity?

It’s a trend that is certainly starting to take off, mainly because confidence is returning to the market. Often it’s a random customer enquiry that triggers the idea to diversify, which is happening more because demand is generally increasing. So for any brokers that are on the fence about whether to expand or pivot, now is the right time to act.

Are there any other ways in which ERS can help brokers to diversify?

We’re always looking for ways to add mutual value with both new and existing brokers. Where we see these opportunities, we’ll go in as a whole-hearted partner every step of the way. 

For example, we recently helped an experienced broker get underway with an entirely new business venture. The lack of customers at the outset wasn’t a problem – we saw that his idea had great potential, so we did everything we could to support him, and the brokerage is now taking off. 

Finally, are there any other significant new opportunities for brokers right now?

Electric vehicles are probably the biggest opportunity, given the Government’s plans to ban new petrol car sales by 2030. As an industry, everyone needs to get up to speed with what’s happening – it’s literally around the corner. There’s a huge opportunity for brokers that can clue themselves in on the specialist areas of the EV market. 

If you’re a broker looking to diversify or have a chat about the opportunities ERS is currently seeing in the market, why not get in touch with Ming at ming.wan@ers.com 

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