In his former life as a digital marketer, Andy Jamieson observed how perfectly financial products fit with digital: they distribute easily, can be matched to a customer’s specific requirements and don’t expire. And that got him thinking about insurance brokers.
Jamieson left his marketing role and set up Advisr, an online platform that connects small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with great insurance brokers. We interviewed Andy to get some insight into his progress so far, and where the business is headed.
Full disclosure: Advisr is a client of The Dubs.
1. What gap in the market was Advisr designed to fill?
Traditionally, small business owners ask their friends and family to recommend a good insurance broker, which is helpful but limits the number of brokers they may have exposure to. Advisr was designed to enable SME owners to find an insurance broker they can trust who is truly an expert and matches their specific needs. We believe there is real value in highlighting the areas where brokers truly have expertise.
We’re not the first – there are lots of insurtechs globally trying to create change in some part of the insurance value chain, whether that’s distribution, underwriting, claims, etc. Locally there are platforms like hipages for finding a tradie, HashChing for finding mortgage brokers and OpenAgent for finding a real estate agent. Advisr does the same in the insurance space.
2. How would you describe the consumer trust issue with insurance and brokers currently in Australia?
There is definitely an issue with trust. A 2017 Roy Morgan survey found that nine out of 10 Aussies believe insurance brokers are unethical; only 10% rate insurance brokers ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for their ethics and honesty. (Compare that to 25% believing financial planners are ethical and 50% for accountants.) This is a problem for both insurance brokers and for business owners.
The financial services Royal Commission has highlighted areas where insurance brokers need to improve. This is a great opportunity for trustworthy insurance brokers to highlight their reputations and showcase why people can trust them.
3. Is there a lack of understanding about what insurance brokers do?
Yes, lots of people don’t value the strategic input that insurance brokers can add in helping to reduce risk within your business. Insurance brokers who spend time understanding the customer and their businesses can truly add value. They’re also extremely valuable when it comes time to make an insurance claim as insurance brokers have insights on how to streamline the claims process which can often lead to better and faster outcomes for the client.
4. Describe for us your vision for having brokers use their social and digital presence to address the issue of trust?
Insurance brokers’ businesses are built by their reputations and through referrals. These days, having a strong online presence and personal brand is critical and using social media and content (e.g., articles) needs to form part of it.
These days, having a strong online presence and personal brand is critical and using social media and content needs to form part of it.
Education is a key way to build trust with a sceptical customer. So insurance brokers who share valuable content within a trusted environment and seek to educate first, will enhance trust with customers and ultimately, drive more sales.
5. Describing your revenue model you talk of creating content and integrated advertising for brokers – how does this work?
We have a subscription model where brokers can gain increased exposure as a premium profile on Advisr, which gets them featured at the top of relevant insurance categories. In addition, our editorial teams are busy creating customer-centric content on behalf of brokers, further enhancing their reputations and enabling thought leadership.
6. Many financial service providers talk about being “trusted” brands yet their behaviour often isn’t inspiring of trust. How is Advisr different?
Advisr enables customers to leave feedback on insurance brokers that can be seen publicly by others. Insurance brokers on Advisr who have customer reviews get 25 times more impressions. So that tells us that customers want to know what people are like before they engage them to provide services. In addition, we verify the brokers on our platform, giving customers confidence when they choose a broker via Advisr. That’s why we say Advisr is a platform that connects customers with an insurance broker they can trust.
7. Do you ever say no to brokers for any reason?
Yes, we actively remove any brokers who’ve done the wrong thing and have been banned by ASIC.
8: What feedback are you getting from brokers and the industry generally?
Insurance brokers who value their reputations and want to grow their businesses are loving what we’re doing and where we’re going. In 2018 we were a finalist in the Australian Insurance Industry Awards for the Insurtech Program of the year, which is great recognition especially given we’re pretty early on in our journey.
9: What are your plans and goals for Advisr in the next year or two, or five? Is there a plan for encouraging more consumer reviews?
Yes, we’re working with brokers to make it easy for them to cultivate reviews from their current customers and we actively engage customers who have connected via Advisr to share their experience. We’re actually spending lots of time with brokers, sharing our reason “why”.
Within five years we want SMEs in Australia to be adequately insured and to work with an expert insurance broker that they trust. SMEs are the engine room of the Australian economy – 96% of businesses in Australia are SMEs. So giving them the confidence to try new things and grow their businesses will be great for Australia. If we can play a part in empowering the Australian economy, then that feels great.