Our 2021 Gauntlet Appointed Representative Conference took place in glorious sunshine in Harrogate, where we commandeered several rooms at the Old Swan Hotel – the venue in which Agatha Christie holed up, during her mysterious ‘disappearance’.
The suspense as to who had won our 2021 AR Awards remained until dinner and we shall leave the whodunnit reveal until later in this article, as there was much going on prior to the evening events.
The day started with chats over a quick early morning snack, as our ARs got together again after more than a year apart, due to the fact a 2020 conference was not possible during Covid-19 restrictions. This was also an opportunity for quite a few new appointed representatives, who have started their own insurance brokerages since our 2019 conference, to introduce themselves to their counterparts.
Groundbreaking insurance e-trade announcement
The insurance sales specialists and dedicated independent local brokers were then treated to news that few could have anticipated. Our managing director, Roger Gaunt, explained that Gauntlet has been working with award-winning insurance software developer, Acturis, to develop a quote and buy facility, with which every Gauntlet appointed representative will be equipped, if they wish to add it to their website.
This is all about additional income streams for our independent brokers, enabling them to tap into the power of e-trade and cater for risks they would not consider to be core targets or which really require in-depth and face-to-face contact. Lacking an e-trade option means these risks currently slip through the net. Now, with the Gauntlet Gateway system, they need not. A client can buy a policy online and can also have all of their policy documentation accessible via their own log-in-controlled portal. Our AR brokers can benefit from additional income, knowing that the Acturis system is picking up most of the administration behind the sale.
Naturally, this was a huge fillip for our AR brokers, who clearly saw the extent to which Gauntlet wishes to partner in their growth, as not just their AR principal but also a business generator and mentor.
Mentoring, training and growth consultancy for appointed representatives
On that note, a presentation by Willis Towers Watson Networks Business Development Manager, Declan Murray, highlighted all the ways in which Gauntlet’s special membership package with WTWN enables Gauntlet brokers to receive business and marketing mentoring and training, as well as accessing unique insurance schemes and global placement opportunities and advice. Furthermore, a new data-driven growth programme will allow Gauntlet appointed representatives to receive one-to-one growth consultancy from Willis Towers Watson Networks, focused on identifying opportunities within the ‘gaps’ in current sales figures.
Hiscox were also on hand, to explain the types of policy from which appointed representatives could also benefit, given the added aspects of cover, which the insureds typically find attractive.
Conference afternoon session: challenges, team-building and fun networking
Having had all of the focus on growth, driving income and suggestions of how to let IT take away administrative burdens, so as to create a better work-life balance for those who started their own brokerages partly to achieve the latter, the conference activity scheduled moved into its fun phase.
The after-lunch session was all about Crystal Maze-style challenges, performed both out on the hotel lawns, to the great entertainment of hotel residents lounging in their deckchairs, and also in the event space indoors. Desperate attempts to build, move blocks, crack codes, detonate bombs, create patterns, balance on beams, and much more, followed, as teams, distinguished by their different coloured bibs, all competed to earn as much time in the Crystal Maze-style dome as possible. In the end, the navy blue bibs proved triumphant, but it was a close-run thing.
2021 Gauntlet Appointed Representative Awards
Dinner was enlivened by comedian Nick Page, a 2018 Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist and former English Comedian of the Year and then it was down to the serious business of learning who the winners of the 2021 Gauntlet Awards were.
The accolade of new AR of the Year went to Nathan Waters of Waters & Co Insurance Services, who hit the ground running and quickly attracted an introducer to generate new enquiries with high conversion rates. Nathan picked up Gauntlet systems very quickly, worked well with the head office team and has maintained a very healthy new business pipeline. With clear branding and a quickly launched, professional website, he put everything in place that a new AR requires for their launchpad.
Dean Holloway of Holloway Insurance Services, was the ‘Best Team Player’, on the basis of his continual willingness to help others, particularly new ARs looking for reassurance and guidance, as they make the move from account executive, or in-house broking roles, into the world of self-employment as a start-up independent insurance broker.
The ‘Best Use of Acturis’ Award was scooped by Richard Hanson of Hanson Insurance Brokers in Mirfield, Yorkshire, who has fully tapped into Acturis’s potential, driving sales but also increasing the free time at his disposal. Richard embraced all things Acturis from day one and champions the use of e-trade. He is always keen to learn all the IT system attributes, to get the best deal for clients and provide a consistently high quality service.
Rob Bradley of Bradley Gauntlet Insurance Services took the Client Champion Award, due to his desire to always go the extra mile for clients. He responds to his clients 24/7 and is more than happy to assist them out of normal working hours. His fact-finds are detailed and his risks are always clearly presented to insurers, as well as brimming with thorough and detailed advice for clients.
Paul Taylor of Actus Insurance accepted the award for ‘Best Use of Marketing’, on behalf of both himself and business partner, Sam Leeder, having demonstrated Actus’s consistently high quality use of social media to promote the broking business. The team are thoroughly professional with their work and great at networking, using this powerfully, as another marketing tool.
Nathan Pedley of New Era Insurance Services, was the recipient of the ‘Resilience Award’, having not allowed Covid-19 to disrupt the business plan that had been formulated, just as the pandemic struck. After already having had three months of not being able to work, due to post employment covenants, New Era’s launch, just as the UK went in to Covid lockdown, could not have been worse-timed but, undaunted, the team quickly re-worked their business plan and got their heads down, working like Trojans, to establish and grow their new start-up broking business, despite everything happening in the world around them.
Finally, the one they all want – the ‘AR of the Year’ award, this time round went to Katherine Brooks, of Gauntlet Fylde Coast, with the award accepted by Gauntlet broker, Tom Hope, as Katherine was away on holiday. This accolade went to a most deserving insurance professional who enjoys a very high client retention ratio, as well as generating lots of client referrals, to drive new business. During the pandemic, Katherine identified a new niche, established good lead referrals and secured good underwriting support, to generate a good flow of new business for the niche. In addition, she always fights hard for a good deal for her clients, both in terms of premium payment and claims settlements.
Summing up the Gauntlet AR Conference 2021
Roger Gaunt, managing director of Gauntlet Group, feels the AR Conference 2021 could not have gone any better. “We have demonstrated that we are the AR Network that truly partners in our appointed representatives’ growth, helps drive their businesses, finds ways of helping them secure insurance leads and invests heavily in ensuring all of this happens. Add to that the fact that we provide training, mentoring, superb access to market through our own contacts and those of Willis Towers Watson, and vibrant peer-to-peer networking, and our ‘package’ as an AR principal is second to none.
“Our announcement of our investment in quote and buy technology for every single ARs website was met with surprise but real enthusiasm and delight. Once an insurance salesperson, always an insurance salesperson and all could see the e-traded additional sales that will be coming their way, creating a new income stream to add to that which they all already enjoy. The 2021 conference could not have been brimming with more positivity and trading confidence. Everyone is now very much looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead and to taking e-trade business off the table.”