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Autonet continues to grow as they add to their management team

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Autonet Insurance sees more positive recruitment success

Autonet Insurance is pleased to announce their latest addition to the company’s senior management team. Following the recent promotion of Chris Jolley to Director of Trading, Jonathan Walker has been appointed the role of Head of Sales and joined the Staffordshire based insurance broker on the 4th March.

Phil Evans, Director of Operations commented: “Jonathan has many years’ experience within campaign and sales management and arrives with a real appetite to support and develop our ever expanding sales department. With the insurance industry still as competitive as ever, Jonathan will prove to add even more expertise to the company which now boasts an entire work force of more than 650 staff.”

With an impressive portfolio of previous employers including LSG – Lifestyle Services Group, Phones 4 U Group and Lloyds TSB, the local professional was an ideal candidate to fulfil the high profile position, managing a vast area of the business including both inbound and outbound sales, the new business verification team and the development centre which houses all new starters to the company.

Jonathan commented: “I am extremely pleased to be joining such a well-established company within my local area. Having worked in the sales industry for many years I am looking forward to developing my career even further and working with all my new colleagues within the insurance sector.”

 

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Opportunities and challenges facing financial services firms in 2021

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Opportunities and challenges facing financial services firms in 2021 1

By Paul McCreadie, Partner at ECI Partners, the leading growth-focused mid-market private equity firm

Despite 2020 being an enormously disruptive year for businesses, our latest Growth Index research reveals that almost three quarters (74%) of mid-market financial services companies remained resilient throughout the pandemic.

This is positive news, especially when taking into account the economic disruption that financial services firms have had to go through since the crisis began. No doubt 2021 will also hold its own challenges – as well as opportunities – for firms in this sector.

Challenges outlook

Unsurprisingly, the biggest short-term concern for financial firms for the year ahead involved changing pandemic guidance, with 42% citing this as a top concern. With the UK currently experiencing a third lockdown many financial services businesses will have already had to adapt to rapidly changing guidance, even since being surveyed.

Businesses will also be considering the need to invest in working from home operations, and there may be uncertainty over re-opening offices on a permanent basis.  According to the research 30% of financial services firms are planning to adopt remote working on a permanent basis, so decisions need to be made now about whether they invest more in enabling staff to do this, or in their current office premises.

Due to Brexit, UK financial services firms are no longer able to passport their services into Europe, which may cause problems, particularly in the next 12 months as the Brexit deal is ironed out and the agreement is put into practice. Despite this, Brexit was only cited by 24% of financial firms as a short-term concern. While it’s comforting to see that UK financial firms aren’t hugely concerned about Brexit at this juncture, it is going to be vital for the ongoing success of the industry that the UK is able to get straightforward access to Europe and operate there without issue, otherwise we may see these concern levels rise.

Looking ahead to longer-term concerns for financial services businesses, the top concern was global economic downturn, of which 40% of firms cited this as a worry when looking beyond 2021.

Investing and adopting tech

Traditionally, the financial services sector has been slow to adopt digital transformation. Issues with legacy systems, coupled with often large amounts of data and a reluctance to undertake potentially risky change processes, have meant many firms are behind the curve when it comes to technology adoption. It’s therefore promising to see that so much has changed over the last year, with 45% of financial services firms having invested in AI and machine learning technology – making it the top sector to have invested in this space over the last 12 months.

One business that exemplifies the benefits of investing in machine learning is Avantia, the technology-enabled insurance provider behind HomeProtect. The business has undergone a large tech transformation in the last few years, investing in an underlying machine learning platform and an in-house data science team, which provides them with capabilities to return a quote to over 98% of applicants in under one second. This tech investment has allowed them to become more scalable, provide a more stable platform, improve customer service and consequently, grow significantly.

This demonstrates how this kind of tech can help businesses to leverage tech in order to offer a better customer experience, and retain and grow market share through winning new customers. This resilience should combat some of the concerns that firms will face in the next year.

Additionally, half (51%) of financial services firms have invested in cybersecurity tech over the last year, which allows them to protect the platforms on which they operate and ensure ongoing provision of solutions to their customers.

International resilience

Clearly, there is a benefit of international revenues and profits on business resilience. In practice, this meant that businesses that weren’t internationally diversified in 2020 struggled more during the pandemic. In fact, the businesses considered to be the least resilient through the 2020 crisis were three times more likely to only operate domestically.

Perhaps an attribute towards financial services firms’ resilience in 2020, therefore, was the fact that 53% already had a presence in Europe throughout 2020 and 38% had a presence in North America. This internationalisation gave them an advantage that allowed them to weather the many storms of 2020.

Looking at how to capitalise on this throughout the rest of 2021, half (51%) of are planning overseas growth in Europe over the next 12 months, and 43% in North America. Further plans to expand internationally is not only a good sign for growth, but should further increase resilience within the sector.

Conclusion

While there are many concerns, the fact that financial services businesses are investing in technology like AI and machine learning, as well as still planning to grow internationally, means that they are providing themselves with the best chances of dealing with any upcoming challenges effectively.

In order to maintain their growth and resilience throughout the next 12 months, it’s imperative that they continue to put their customers first, invest in technology and remain on the front foot of digital change.

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How the evolution of customer behaviour is reshaping the insurance sector

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How the evolution of customer behaviour is reshaping the insurance sector 2

By Rachael Laurie, Tempcover CCO

The insurance industry has an unenviable reputation of providing complicated policies that are obtained through a cumbersome and time-consuming process. For many customers this means a confusing and frustrating experience.

And in an increasingly digital world, consumer loyalty is no longer a guarantee. Modern day consumers will move their custom to businesses that offer a simple and convenient user experience at best value. This trend has only been accelerated with the onset of COVID.

For the insurance sector, it is essential for companies to not only get up-to-speed with the latest digital consumer trends but stay one step ahead to offer the most fit-for-purpose product or service that is complemented by a positive customer experience.

It starts with customer insights

Rapid market movements and changes in customer behaviour are driving a step change in the collection and assimilation of customer insight that is subsequently converted into action. A prime example is the seismic shift from public transport to private vehicle when lockdown was introduced.

Data from the Department for Transport [1] revealed that public transport usage drop by as much as 90% early in lockdown and is still currently down more than 70% compared to pre-COVID levels. This meant that the luxury of pre-planned market studies with linear decision making flowing out of the insight had to be replaced by the need for rapid ‘in-the-moment’ assessment of changing customer demands.

This was achieved through greater utilisation of light-touch agile methods, coupled with the ability to make robust intuitive marketing decisions from imperfect data in a time where speed is king. It’s not about perfection but achieving positive outcomes at pace in a rapidly-evolving consumer landscape.

Ongoing and proactive customer engagement is key

Customer engagement as a means of understanding, as well as fulfilling changing customer demands is crucial. Dialling up customer engagement capability of an organisation is more important than ever in enabling businesses to stay close to customers and differentiate responses and action accordingly.

Whether that be from a geographical perspective reflecting differing restrictions, adapting distribution like the motor industry’s move to remote selling of vehicles or sharing the profit burden by offering preferential promotions to encourage customers to part with a share of their reducing wallet.

Playing back compelling solutions that more closely meet the diversity of need will cut through the ‘standard’ COVID response noise. It’s about being more relevant to the customer – on their terms, and by their side. When the customer wins, the business wins too.

A well-run customer engagement programme can lead to improved conversion rates. For example, converting previously non-purchasing enquirers into paying customers, or converting one-time buyers into multi-buyers. Another business benefit of an effective customer engagement programme is encouraging repeat customers to come direct via owned channels – reducing exposure to paid search.

The best products and services are co-created with direct customer input

It goes without saying that even the best customer engagement programme will be ineffective if customers are not satisfied with the product or service they are receiving. At Tempcover, we’ve introduced a fully-enhanced digital user experience that was co-created with customers – with multiple-stage research and testing resulting in a fit-for-purpose user experience based on customer demands and expectations.

The end result is a simplified user journey that enables our full customer base to gain easy online access to our service offering and to interact with us seamlessly. Our super-agile digital offering also brings fully-comprehensive temporary car insurance straight to customers’ fingertips, through a quick and simple user experience that involves a simple policy confirmation process that enables customers to be on cover and driving within 90 seconds. Our customer advocacy is clearly evident in our TrustPilot scores – where 81% of over 18,000 reviews receive an ‘Excellent’ 5/5 rating.

Looking to marketers to navigate the future

It has never been more important for players in the insurance industry to truly know and understand their market. Adding valuable insight and direction to a business facing significant change means the role of the marketer is particularly pivotal in navigating how best to serve changing customer needs and serving those needs differently.

Those who lead through change will undoubtedly build valuable experience, demonstrating breadth and depth of capability – standing them in good stead for onward opportunities. The legacy will shine a light on the key role of marketing to lead, shape and set the direction of an organisation and how to win in challenging circumstances. The legacy will also challenge long-standing ways of working and reveal a new world order where speed, agility and pragmatism trump formulaic inflexible methods.

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ECB to launch climate change centre, Lagarde says

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ECB to launch climate change centre, Lagarde says 3

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is setting up a climate change centre to coordinate the bank’s thinking on how to best incorporate climate issues into monetary policy and banking supervision, ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Monday.

“We are now launching a new climate change centre to bring together more efficiently the different expertise and strands of work on climate across the bank,” Lagarde said in a speech.

“The climate change centre provides the structure we need to tackle the issue with the urgency and determination that it deserves,” she added.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa)

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