Q: Robert, thank you for taking the time to let me know how Open GI is doing in the market place. How has 2014 been for Open GI?
So far, 2014 has been a really positive year for Open GI in Ireland. Our continued pledge to support our loyal brokers and provide stronger solutions has resulted in not only our user count growing in the last ten months but also brokers entering into new long-term agreements – which despite today’s competitive marketplace is fantastic.
Over the last few months we have also been working closely with the IBA – in particular with Ciaran, Brian, Susan and Hazel – which has been tremendously valuable for us. It has given us further insight into brokers’ requirements now and going forwards. We have had the opportunity to meet and listen to brokers at both sets of IBA Regional Meetings. By attending these sessions, it has allowed me to network with lots of different brokers, some current, some new, and showcase Open GI’s core broker offering.
There has been a lot more investment in developing technology for our brokers this year, specifically for the Irish market. In comparison to 12 months ago, this is a real shift forward and has made Open GI’s position in the marketplace stronger in both the UK and Ireland. Our heritage now spans 35 years, and there are a number of exciting solutions to come as we enter into 2015 for the broking and insurer market – which is exciting news.
Q: Can you outline the latest developments from Open GI?
Open GI’s latest innovation, which is available now to all Irish brokers, is Core Back-Office. This is an ideal broking solution for any broker. The system manages quotations and converts prospects to live clients, through to reconciling accounts with insurers. It caters for the entire broking process, from start to finish.
Core 15’s latest developments have been directly influenced as a result of feedback, predominantly from our Irish brokers. Customer insight is a valuable tool and we pride ourselves on gathering continuous customer feedback to help us shape, renew and evolve our current products as well as develop new solutions.
The simplicity and effectiveness of Core 15 will give brokers total control and autonomy. As a broker, this system can be enhanced further to focus on a number of key broking areas, including eCommerce or business intelligence for example. The choice is literally down to the broker. Again, as a direct result of broker feedback, the system offers a full range of comprehensive accounting and reporting facilities, allowing brokers to focus more on their customers.
Q: That sounds interesting. Tell me, how can Open GI support brokers through technology with compliance issues?
We are helping our brokers in a number of areas such as workflow and efficient processing – both of which are extremely important for those who want to streamline their current processes and procedures so that their business trades effectively and continues to grow in the Irish market.
One of the positive areas that we are receiving great feedback about is our CreditLine Plus solution. This piece of technology offers brokers a fully integrated service for making secure, fast and simple electronic payments for credit and debit cards. It meets the latest requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and is suitable for all types of broker, whether they are a high-street broker, commercial or a personal lines broker. Brokers who I work with have found real benefits from using CreditLine Plus rather than using the PDQ machine method of processing payments – which at times can be like pulling teeth when you are trying to process a customer’s paperwork efficiently!
Another major benefit to CreditLine Plus is that payment, pre-authorisation and card validation can be checked before issuing cover, which can help minimise fraudulent transactions. This is key for brokers as the rise of fraud in the insurance industry continues to climb.
The software also gives brokers end customers peace of mind. All transactions are securely transacted, pre-payments can be accepted at a later date without the need to re-key card payment and card details are discarded after use. This is certainly a piece of software that is not only compliant with industry regulations but can also streamline how brokers’ businesses operate.
Q: What challenges do you think Irish brokers will face in the next 12 months?
I think the challenges lie more with commercial lines brokers as opposed to personal lines. As eCommerce is dominating our lives, commercial lines brokers need to feel reassured that they add value in an increasingly automated world.
The marketplace is undoubtedly changing for commercial lines brokers. Their consumers are becoming hungrier for choice, competitive pricing and quicker access to product information. And unlike personal lines, commercial lines insurance requirements are a lot more varied. However, what brokers are experiencing now is that their commercial lines customers are expressing similar demands to personal lines consumers. This is where brokers and eCommerce need to work hand-in-hand, rather than brokers feeling pushed aside by e-trading.
The value brokers offer is still hugely important and influential in commercial consumers’ drive for independent advice, choice and competitive premiums. A timely and efficient purchasing process for brokers is central to ensuring a streamlined service for their clients, whether from the brokers’ office or online.
I believe that commercial brokers who embrace e-trading, and supplement this with quality service, clearly demonstrate their adaptability in a competitive marketplace. It will allow them to thrive and maintain their position in the market as well as adding further value.
Open GI would like to thank our broker and insurer partners, and the IBA, for the tremendous support over the last 12 months. As a technology solutions provider established for over 30 years in Ireland, we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Irish market well into 2015 and beyond. We will continue to work closely with our brokers as the Irish market is a very competitive strategic element of Open GI, and one in which we will continue to invest.