CCIB Managing Director Debbie Airey considers the changes that COVID 19 is bringing to the world of insurance broking

Debbie, who is celebrating 13 years at CCIB, reflects on how strong relationships built over many years are helping to overcome the difficulties posed by Covid 19.

In a recent interview with Insurance Business, Debbie said, “The people are the best thing about working in broking and particularly in working in the agricultural sector”. With the help of Debbie’s business partner, they set up the federation of Agricultural Brokers (FAB), at which she is now director in acknowledgment of the importance of those connections and how brokers become close to their clients and are reliant on for support.

“At the time when my business partner and I set up FAB, a lot of people said that wouldn’t work and brokers wouldn’t share information,” she stated “but we found that in the agricultural sector it does work and that if we all learn from each other’s mistakes and experiences, it makes us far more powerful.”

FAB was originally made up of around 10 brokers that would work together to share resources, but has later grown to over 33 brokers across the UK who arrange numerous events. Debbie was recognised for her extensive agricultural knowledge which lead to GRP Group asking Debbie to become the head of national practices in agricultural and is now the direct point of contact for all GRP brokers focused in this area.

“Building relationships with different brokers gives us the ability to share resources and the creation of a community of brokers”, she said, “but also essential for brokers is the development of a great bond with their clients and insurance companies”. Since the coronavirus outbreak, Debbie has no longer been able to visit clients, and she revealed she misses going to visit them and hearing about their business.

“This is a temporary period”, she stated, “but going forward it might change the way we do business. It may not mean as many face-to-face meetings because we have proven we can maintain our quality without actually getting in a car and driving through the countryside. But I don’t want to lose that completely because I think those relationships mean everything and, without them, you wouldn’t be a successful broker.”

CCIB agreed to become part of the GRP Group family to support the businesses development, without losing close contact with its clients. Joining GRP was a decision made to be able to benefit from the expertise of the group when it comes to marketing, HR and compliance. After undergoing this partnership, CCIB has later grown, including through acquisition and now has around 7,000 clients.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the importance on building strong client relationships has served the business extremely well. Brokers who have not set up new ways of communication with their clients may face the risk of losing them during this time. Clients with businesses to run want to speak to other businesses to find to out how they are dealing with the current circumstances. CCIB have successfully rolled out their business continuity plan allowing them to provide an on-going service to their clients.

Debbie mentioned she feels very fortunate to be working within the agricultural sector as the businesses she works with are continuing to develop during this time. “The pandemic has made us all value what we had before this,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being in the office with my team, to driving out to see my clients. I have this job and sometimes I pinch myself because you can drive through the hills and you can see all kinds of wildlife. And then you get there, and you get to chat with people who genuinely want to see you and genuinely want to do business with you. And that is just incredible".