January 17, 2019 by Jason Contant
Are brokers in Canada properly trained to use new technology?
“It seems there is an under-investment in the human resources component of new technology,” said Jeff McCann, CEO of Digital MGA Marketplace Ltd., a Vancouver-based company that helps brokers with automation solutions. “A new employee gets a quick orientation through a BMS [broker management system] and is expected to operate the machinery effectively and efficiently.
“Often the ‘train-the-trainer’ model is put in place but, with everybody being busy, neither the trainer nor the employee have the bandwidth to really gain expertise of the various systems within a brokerage. I would like to see more training beyond BMS, including in programs like Excel, that can add value in many functions in the supply chain.”
McCann was responding to a question Monday about whether brokers are properly trained to use technology.
More than half (53%) of 254 principals polled for Canadian Underwriter’s 2018 National Broker Survey cited adopting new technology as a strong challenge (8-10 out of 10) to their businesses. About 38% also said employee training and education presented a strong challenge.
With regard to BMS specifically, 51% of principals and 56% of producers said “changing or installing the BMS” is a best practice (8-10 out of 10)
Often technology decisions are made by a small group, who then have a difficult time achieving staff buy-in, McCann noted. “If a culture of experimentation and demos can be achieved, and everybody is curiously evaluating ways to better serve customers, then a very powerful customer-centric paradigm shift will result,” he said. “Imagine if use of a product in the office went viral – we wouldn’t need training.”
One of the most powerful tools for immediate value creation is Adobe DC PDF creator, which allows a user to edit text, organize pages, copy text out of, and generally utilize PDFs in a more dynamic way, McCann said. “The number of times a document, especially certificates and proposals, have to be recreated to change a few fields is a huge time spend for brokers. It is also very common for quote details to be delivered from an underwriter in PDF, and the broker has no easy way to copy those into a broker-branded proposal comparing coverages and pricing.”
Tools like this would shave minutes off of the most common daily tasks, “which on aggregate is millions of hours of broker time,” McCann said. “It would also improve overall morale, by simply making the day to day easier. None of these very basic implementations make the news, where BMS systems or blockchain type buzzwords dominate.”