Some clients have thrived during the last 18 months, particularly those working within the tech sector, while others continue to struggle. Therefore, supporting such a broad spectrum of clients during these unprecedented times has necessitated a bespoke approach from insurance brokers.
“How we can support them is absolutely critical to their survival, in terms of how they operate,” he said. “We have recognised that we have a responsibility to help them through these tough times… So, we’re constantly making contact with them because that’s what it takes to understand their issues, to understand the problems they face and it’s also what we need to help steer them through their journey.”
He highlighted that, particularly during COVID when restrictions have made it so much harder to go out and see clients, it has become more essential than ever for brokers to be out on the frontline, boosting the visibility of their support services. The structure of Gallagher and its network of regional offices supports this ambition as having that local presence nurtures stronger relationships and helps the firm become part of the scenery of the locale they serve.
Matthews believes this sets the group apart from its key competitors, and that it is a value proposition that Gallagher values deeply and actively works to maintain.
“It’s our deliberate strategy to be the community broker of choice where we operate,” he said. “We very much want to support the local communities, not just from a business perspective, but also local charities. And the great thing is that every office has their own charities which they support, and [those teams] come up with those charities, which is great because we want it to be a cause local to them.
“Being actively engaged in local projects and local communities, and working with the local business community [is] a really important part of our business. It’s a part I look to encourage and to foster all the time so it can continue. And if we don’t do that, it will be at our peril really. So it’s one of our key ingredients for success, without a shadow of a doubt.”
It has already been a busy year for Matthews and his team, one which has seen its purchase of the Bollington Wilson Group (Bollington) – but, speaking with Insurance Business, he emphasised that the real focus remains on continuing to help its clients navigate through COVID and the hardening market. The insurance market is certainly getting tougher, he said, and Gallagher is very conscious that those businesses already struggling with COVID are going to be under even more pressure going forward.
With this in mind, the business has invested substantially in its broking capability. This has led to the onboarding of more talent as part of its commitment to investing in the resources best placed to support clients. This will be a continuing focus as far as the rest of 2021 is concerned.
“Another thing which is also key is our investment in our risk management capability. We’re trying to help clients manage risk more effectively, and to be a little bit less reliant on insurance because insurance costs are going up,” he said. “A really good example of that is in our cyber security. Cyber and the risks associated with it are in the insurance press almost on a daily basis now and we’ve employed a good half a dozen or so people in recent months who are cyber security experts.”
There’s a real demand for solutions, he explained, and clients are going to need further support in navigating the sector.
“And, of course, in addition, we’re looking to continue to grow organically, and to continue to grow by acquisition as well,” he added. “Even after the Bollington deal, that doesn’t mean we’re just going to put our feet up on that table and say, ‘right that’s it for the year’. That growth is very much part of our plan, as is investing more in our people.
“We’re going to do more from a development point of view and we’re [supporting] this through a whole raft of programmes designed to help colleagues develop their careers and their skillsets which is something I personally am passionate about. The benchmark is that we want to be the broker of choice – not just for clients, but also as far as our team is concerned. Our ambition is to be that broker of choice for people who want to work at Gallagher and be part of the Gallagher success story. So, we’ve got plenty to get on with.”