Last year was a big one for NIBA’s Need a Broker, with uses of the free service soaring past the 100,000 mark for the first time.
NIBA Communications Manager Neal Maidment says the figures exceeded expectations.
“Although we have always known that Need a Broker is a valuable service, we have been pleasantly surprised at the high figures for 2012/2013, and it is good to see how much usage of the call centre, in particular, has increased on a year-for-year basis,” he says.
“It shows that there is interest in accessing brokers and finding out more information generally about what brokers do, and that’s a very positive sign.
“While it’s important to note that not every use of the service equates to a lead for brokers, the figures are very encouraging and are a good indicator that enhancements of the service, allied with targeted marketing, will yield strong results.”
The service allows the public to search for QPIB-designated brokers in specific locations or specialties via either the website needabroker.com.au or a call centre at 1300 53 10 73.
ANCATAS Managing Director Nigel Clutterbuck is unequivocal in his opinion of the site.
“It’s been a gold mine for us,” he says. “Of the last 29 cold-call leads we had, 38% came from Need a Broker, which is ahead of Google. We have a 65% strike rate with new business leads.”
Clutterbuck says in some months every new lead they receive comes courtesy of Need a Broker. He says although part of that is due to the ANCATAS name – “We start with an A obviously and we have three brokerages so on some searches we can take up the first three spots” – the increasing use of Need a Broker is part of a broader shift in the insurance market.
“It’s part of a change in the way people do business,” Clutterbuck says. “Cold calls didn’t used to be highly regarded in the past. But now clients are using the internet to research their options and making calls from that.”
He says the change is being driven primarily by the demographic shift that is occurring as more and more baby boomers retire from their businesses and hand the reins over to a new generation.
“It is having an enormous impact on the market,” Clutterbuck says. “I’d say most of our cold callers from Need a Broker and internet searches are in their 20s.
“They are the ones that are scoping around. They’ve come into the business and they don’t want their father’s old contacts so they look for something new. They’re a generation that is getting on the net and looking.”
Clutterbuck says ANCATAS is picking up substantial accounts through this process. “We don’t advertise at all in that sector,” he says. “Every time we talk about it we say ‘Why bother? We can just use Need a Broker’.”
Ardrossan Insurance Brokers Director Mark Laudrum says he gets about five inquiries a week through the service and binds more than half of those that he quotes.
“There’s a lot of inquiries that probably don’t quite fit Ardrossan but I don’t look at that as a waste of our time because a lot of it is about advising the client,” he says. “Many of them are quite stuck and in that situation I will refer them to other NIBA members who are specialists in those areas.”
Honing the service
However, some brokers think the service could work even better. Fraser and Associates Insurance Brokers Founder Rod Fraser says Need a Broker would help brokers more if the location service tool was improved.
“I think it’s great thing that they’re doing but they could do it better,” he says. “We have one suburb which joins one of our borders and we’re not included in that suburb. I think NIBA has some work to do in better mapping out the areas around brokers.”
Fraser says although Need a Broker is his second biggest source of leads after referrals, the conversion rate is lower as some users are lacking awareness about what it is that a broker does.
He says the quality of leads could be improved by marketing the site to small business councils and chambers of commerce, to ensure a greater proportion of callers are commercial in nature, rather than domestic.
NIBA Communications Manager Neal Maidment says improving the search facility is a high priority for 2014.
“We’re aware that some members don’t always show up geographically where they should when the postcode search is used, but we are working on resolving these. We want to revamp the site’s search parameters and functionality to ensure users get the best results every time they use it,” he says. “That’s better for consumers, and also better for the brokers, who will receive more specific, targeted inquiries.”
Maidment adds that the site will also be optimised for use on smart phones and there is even the potential to launch an app version.
As well as being embedded on the Understand Insurance website, Need a Broker is also featured on numerous other financial literacy sites, including ASIC’s MoneySmart, DFAT’s Smart Traveller and state government business websites.
“Ultimately we would like the site to be a central source of information on insurance brokers, and the vital role they play in offering risk and insurance advice and cover, similar in ambition to the ICA’s Understand Insurance site,” Maidment says.
“We want anyone who uses it to get truly useful information from the system, and to be educated, if only a little bit, on the valuable role brokers play in providing risk and insurance advice and provision.
“Ultimately though, Need a Broker can only deliver opportunities. It’s up to brokerages themselves to capitalise on the leads it generates.”