CEOs of Australian and New Zealand underwriting agencies have polarised views on brokers' future roles, according to the 2017 annual CEO Survey report released by the Underwriting Agencies Council (UAC), which is the peak body for Australian and New Zealand underwriting agencies.
Asked how they saw brokers’ role changing over the next five years, 45% of respondents saw no change and agreed that “we’ll rely on brokers to keep playing an essential role in our future business”. But another 45% thought change was needed, agreeing that “brokers will continue to have similar importance, however they would be required to adjust their services and value proposition to end customers”.
While 10% of agency principals believed brokers’ importance would diminish as customer buying behaviour changed, none agreed there would be no role for brokers in future because customers would buy direct.
In other findings, the survey found 90% of respondents were very optimistic about their business’s future (up 1 percentage point on 2016) and 88% saw growth potential in their specialist markets (up 10 percentage points on 2016). New competitors were a challenge for 60% of respondents (down 10 percentage points on 2016) and 53% flagged broker performance and loyalty as a challenge (also down by 10 percentage points.
UAC General Manager William Legge said the annual survey, conducted with the assistance of Gratex International, provided valuable year-on-year comparisons that assist underwriting agencies in planning and decision making. “Analysis of the information enables us to ensure future programmes and activities continue to meet members’ needs,” he said.
UAC, formed in 1998, has about 100 voting members across Australia and New Zealand and almost 40 business service members who assist members to develop their businesses.