Paul Little, chief operating officer, Protecdiv
20 October 2020Insurance

‘Challenger broker’ looks ahead to tough renewals season

Broker Protecdiv launched just before the global pandemic took hold and, says Paul Little, chief operating officer at the firm, the company was immediately faced with a rapidly shifting landscape.

Launched in January 2020 as the first tier one minority-owned US brokerage, Little said: “Protecdiv has had remarkable success due to a combination of access to C-suite decision-makers and our aim to put process, technology, and diversity at the very centre of our business model.”

However, despite this, he admitted that the firm’s launch, ahead of a global pandemic, brought its own challenges.

“We saw buyer priorities shift, while at the same time there were major changes to pricing, capacity, and coverage in the market.

“The economic, social, and psychological impact of COVID-19 certainly forced us to adapt and make adjustments to our business development strategy and tactics.

“The pandemic did not slow our progress, however,” he added, explaining that the broker made important decisions to build elements of its technological ecosystem, while it was actively integrating the best new technology available from third parties.

“Simultaneously, we are thrilled to have found excellent strategic partners in insurance and reinsurance who share similar values, approach, and high client service standards, which means we offer broader expertise and offer deeper capabilities to clients sooner.”

“With this uncertainty come many differing opinions on how to manage renewals.” Paul Little, Protecdiv

Renewals uncertainty
Little said that part of the broker’s unique value proposition is its people and culture.

“It’s fair to say that the most consistent statements made during our introductory meetings have been ‘your timing is excellent’, ‘your business model is compelling’ and ‘we would like to do what we can to help you succeed’, he said.

“We see these sentiments as validation of our business concept and as ‘expressions of anticipation’ of significant opportunities that lie ahead.

“This energises us every day and contributes to the strong cultural norms we are instilling as we build a diverse, high performance team.”

Even with all this positivity, Little was clear that this renewals season is set to be one of the most challenging seasons the industry has ever faced.

“With the pandemic still ongoing there is no clear picture of the long-term implications of coronavirus on our industry and the wider economy. With this uncertainty come many differing opinions on how to manage renewals.

“While it can generally feel safer to focus on the things you can control by sticking with past processes, employing a short-term, ‘hunker down’ mentality can have major drawbacks.

“Uncertainty creates opportunities for new thinking, new ways of doing business, new modes of enhancing the use of data and analytics to position a business to thrive in the new environment.

“Evaluating risks and developing new methods is essential to the vibrancy of a company and how it relates to customers, which is critical to long-term success. With no face-to-face interaction, insurers, reinsurers and brokers are being forced into rethinking how they approach renewals, particularly with clients they may have never met before.”

The COO sees Protecdiv as a “challenger broker”, in line with other challenger firms such as insurtechs that represent a new way of thinking.

“This fresh approach will spur organic growth in ways that simply cannot be matched by keeping the status quo,” Little said.

“Companies that are able to rethink everything they know and do it while embracing continuous improvement processes to build on their key foundational strengths will be amongst the winners,” he concluded.

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