Canadian Underwriter

A new way for brokerages to assign clients to advisors

February 12, 2018   by Jason Contant

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An Ontario brokerage has done away with the traditional alphabetized way of assigning clients to brokers.

Under the alphabetized approach, sometimes referred to as the “alpha split,” a brokerage divides its clients evenly by the number of account managers it has. Account managers are responsible for the clients whose last names fall within a certain range of letters. This way, clients will be able to deal with the same broker to serve their needs.

“That has been ingrained in insurance for a very long time,” said Ashley Holmes, operations manager at Roughley Insurance Brokers, a full-service brokerage with offices in Oshawa and Bowmanville, Ont. “One of the biggest changes we have made is saying goodbye to the alpha split,” said the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s (IBAO) 2017 Young Broker of the Year.

Part of the challenge in doing away with the alpha split is that about half of clients value one-on-one relationships with their brokers. The other half “don’t want to leave a voicemail, don’t care if they talk to the same person, they just want their answer right away,” Holmes said. “They don’t necessarily value that one-on-one relationship. They would if that person is available 24/7, but that person is never going to be available 24/7.”

To satisfy both types of clients, Roughley invested in a fancy phone system that could do both things. “We looked for a way to use that phone system so that if people are looking for the same person, they can have them, if they want the next available person, they can have them, too,” Holmes said. “Trying to service both sides of that coin in a fair way.”

It wasn’t an easy process, and it took a lot of procedures, Holmes said. One reason to move to the new phone system was to eliminate voicemail. Now, clients can still leave a voicemail if they want to, but it’s their choice. “So… trying to make sure everybody has things the way they want it.”

Over the past decade she’s been at the company, Holmes has seen a lot of technological changes, but it’s the pace of change that is really surprising.

“It used to be you had an annual meeting and said, ‘This is what we are going to do differently,’” said Holmes. “Now it’s, ‘OK, today this is what we are doing, tomorrow we are going to do this, next week we are going to implement this technology, by June, we expect this to be happening.’”

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