What’s the AR Attraction?
When our managing director, Roger Gaunt, spoke at BrokerFest 2023 in London, he was part of a discussion about the role of appointed representatives within the broker model. He was naturally delighted to put across his views on the fundamental part that Gauntlet Group ARs play within the model – as traditional local brokers but ones backed by national buying power.
A few days after this talk, however, he was intrigued to see an Insurance Times headline that read, ‘AR attraction on the rise as insurers look to engage.’
Whilst, after greater inspection, this related to the fact that insurers want to support start-ups, as consolidation continues to swallow up so many of the fantastic broking firms the industry has supported, his first glance at the headline had him wondering whether a new AR theme park had opened – the insurance sector’s answer to Alton Towers!
That got him thinking about the ways in which the AR model relates to a theme park and its features, so we’re sharing these thoughts with you.
Many dedicated and talented brokers have been on a rollercoaster ride in recent years. Some have found themselves working for brokerages bought up by consolidators, creating ups and downs and some awful butterflies in the stomach at times. Some have suffered this trip a few times now, as purchase has followed purchase.
Broking has become a rollercoaster ride for those in employment but it’s the clients who have often also felt the after-effects of the consolidation rollercoaster, with service levels plummeting and any personal touch sadly removed from the broker-client relationship. This is one reason why account executives come to Gauntlet Group – because they want to put clients first and serve them their way – a better way. They know that they can do that, if they start their own brokerage.
But it’s also been a rollercoaster ride for some directly authorised brokers, who initially thought they were best-served by having that direct relationship with the FCA, but have now found all the reporting and other business red-tape a huge stress. Some have now decided their rollercoaster ride needs to end and have de-authorised, to become Gauntlet ARs, using the Gauntlet De-authorisation Fast-track (GDF) option.
The Ghost Train
Many smaller, independent brokers have also started to feel ghosted by the insurance industry, being unable to get insurer agencies, because they do not have enough volume to satisfy requirements. They also struggle to buy PI cover and increasingly find themselves marginalised within the market.
Gauntlet Group provides a home for these brokers, who can de-authorise through its GDF process, become a Gauntlet Appointed Representative and take advantage of Gauntlet’s fantastic access to market. This access is further extended by what Willis Towers Watson (WTW Networks) can offer to them, as Gauntlet is also a member of the network. It can also provide its deauthorising brokers with PI cover, taking that strain away from them, as well as handling all of their accounting, administration, IT and even broking, if they wish. It’s like a chocolate box of treats for many smaller brokers, who have struggled to take holidays, worried endlessly about what would happen to their business if they fell ill and battled to reduce overheads.
The Big Wheel
It’s Gauntlet’s view that the broking world has come full circle. We’ve seen broker-client relationships anonymised by consolidators and commercial clients, perhaps initially attracted to the idea of working with big organisations, have now realised that traditional broking offers so much more added value. They’ve ridden the wheel, tried a different ‘view’ of broking and found that it’s somewhat shrouded in mist.
For this reason, commercial clients are crying out for a compelling combination of traditional insurance broking, backed by great insurance market reach. This is what is on offer through the Gauntlet Appointed Representative Network.
That offering has been optimised over the last 18 months. Gauntlet has invested heavily to create bespoke Gauntlet Group iT solutions powered by Acturis, but tailored to its local brokers’ needs in such a way as to help maximise sales. It has created various new sales and training initiatives. It has driven the repositioning of local brokers in the public’s mind. It has been at the forefront of putting local brokers back on the map. It continues to lead the local broker renaissance, because it feels the wheel has come back round.
The rapids, admissions and exit routes
Gauntlet is ideally positioned to take its Appointed Representatives on the next stage of their ride and on to greater successes, whatever the ‘rapids’ of the market throw up. It may seem a tough time out there in the economy but it’s actually a great time to start a brokerage and deliver the local broker proposition to clients who need advice and alternatives.
Gauntlet’s proposition is a draw for account executives and directly authorised brokers, because it truly partners with its local brokers in their growth. Its admissions policy is robust but its exit routes are second-to-none, with its brokers often able to transfer their business to Gauntlet, phasing in their withdrawal from their brokerage, to a timescale that suits them.
People don’t grow out of being an AR. Gauntlet moves them to a position where they have choices as to what they want to do; choices they often would never have had, had Gauntlet not given them the means, motivation and opportunity.
So, to go back to that headline in Insurance Times, what’s the AR attraction? Gauntlet would say, what’s not?