Spring Cleaning

At the beginning of 2014, Nick Kidd began enhancing April Canada’s work with brokers to lead the company toward a sunnier future

Most people don’t join the insurance industry for a career; they join to fill time. But then they find out they have something to offer the industry and fall in love with it. I’m no exception. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for leadership models I admire. I then seek to change the way I lead my teams to deliver better results. That’s led to more and more exciting opportunities.

A few years ago, I caught a bug. Working in the United Kingdom, I was involved in a talent-management program that introduced me to peers from around the world, and I really wanted to work in a different market. It lets you see the world through a completely different lens.

One day, I got a call from France, where April is headquartered. I’d never heard of the company at the time, so I started researching it. Everything I read fascinated me. April insures individuals and businesses, but its clients are the brokers. It’s really fresh in the market.

I’ve only been here [a few] months, so it’s hard to say how my leadership has impacted the company, but many business lines are growing at greater than 20 percent, and we’ve implemented a number of initiatives.

We’ve started on a huge journey around how we structure our organization. Our division structure was too complex, so we streamlined it. For example, we moved toward national leadership of product lines such as residential, commercial, trucking.

We’re about to launch new technology. The industry has not historically been technology driven. That makes sense. We’re an underwriting company and driven by an underwriting mind-set, so we like paper. But we also have to recognize that our clients want to transact electronically. They want documents online. They want immediate answers when they send us a business opportunity.

How Are You Growing?

New policy sales are up by 8% year over year and trending upward, with 30% growth in June 2014 alone

Quotes offered to brokers are up by 11% through June 2014

Total premiums underwritten grew 14% year over year in the second quarter of 2014

We’re segmenting our brokers. There’s potential for us to have different relationships with different types of brokers. Some want to engage with us transactionally once in a while when they have an opportunity; others prefer a partnership style. That’s going to be really important for us, so we’re in the process of establishing those partners across Canada with whom we can have a greater level of dialogue, understand each other’s businesses, and deliver changes to both partners’ mutual benefit.

We’ve implemented a new weekly reporting mechanism across Canada. It’s designed so that everybody in the business can get a much better idea of how we’re performing week to week on some of the key things that really matter. My fundamental belief here is that if everyone understands the general direction, the goals, and how we’re performing against them, then they’re much better placed to generate ideas and initiatives to help improve on a continual basis.

We just launched a way to measure the quality of experience that we’re offering to our broker partners. I hope to be able to see impressive improve­ments in this area as our results are established in the next few months. Measuring and improving the broker’s experience will be a fundamental part of our success.

Transparency is going to be key in our industry. What brokers really want to know is not what you can hypothetically help them with but what you’re great at. We’re working to make that clearly defined for our brokers across Canada. That way, they can feel confident when sending us submissions that we’ll respond quickly and positively and with a competitive price. That will help the broker win or retain its client’s business, which is the end goal.