The Advisory Career

A Vision For Empowering Independent Agents

Building trust and creating resilience for small businesses in the future

A new report from Cake & Arrow addresses the question of how the insurance industry can support and enable independent agents. Download a copy of the report here.

NEW YORK, July 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Small businesses have a long road to recovery ahead. For some, it could take years to return to their pre-Covid baseline. Independent agents, with the inroads and infrastructure to connect small business owners, can play a vital role in quickening the recovery, building trust in the insurance industry, and creating resilience for small businesses in the future. How can the insurance industry support and enable them?

Today Cake & Arrow, an experience design and innovation company that works with organizations in the insurance industry, published a new report addressing this question. Inspired by a year’s worth of research with small business owners and other insurance customers, the report explores how insurance can enable and support independent agents to cultivate trust with customers, specifically small business owners. The report, Three Visions for Empowering Independent Agents: Cultivating an Ecosystem of Trust for a New Generation of Small Business Owners, provides insight into:

  • The needs of small business owners and opportunities for insurance to better support them as they rebuild after Covid and retool their businesses for the future.
  • The role that independent agents can play in supporting, empowering, and connecting small business owners to create resiliency and build trust in insurance.
  • Strategies and steps insurance carriers can take today—using tools, data, and resources already at their disposal—to empower independent agents and cultivate an ecosystem of trust that starts with customers.

Empowering Independent Agents To Empower & Connect Their Customers

As small business owners carve out a new path forward and seek to retool and remodel their businesses to be more digital, more financially resilient, and to operate more efficiently, one of the keys to their success will lie in being better connected to digitally enabled and trustworthy support, guidance, and expertise, especially in times of need. The insurance industry can play an important role in filling this void, using some of the tools and resources already at its disposal and directing their digital transformation efforts toward repositioning the industry as a place for small business owners to connect, network, compare notes, and find the support and expertise they need for the business to thrive. The key to doing so lies with agents.

“Fixing” the customer experience in insurance isn’t about technology or tools, it’s about trust. And the key to building trust with small business owners is building trust with agents. Cake & Arrow’s research shows that many agents and brokers feel threatened by insurance carrier efforts to “improve customer experience” and often view things like self-servicing tools for customers as an attempt to bypass agents and cut out the middle man (ie. the agent). Building trust with agents, and ultimately with customers, demands that carriers acknowledge and respect the relationships that agents have cultivated with customers, and empower them to deepen these relationships.

Cultivating An Ecosystem Of Trust

While in recent years it has been popular to predict the demise of agents and brokers, we strongly believe they will continue to play a vital role in the insurance ecosystem, especially when it comes cultivating trust with customers...

For too long, the insurance industry has struggled to engender trust with their customers. In this regard, the pandemic didn’t do the industry any favors, especially when it comes to small businesses. Over and over again, Cake & Arrow’s research has found that trust starts small. It begins with trust in a neighbor, a friend, a family member, a colleague and grows outward and upward from there. Extending through a network of local and personal ties, via various analog and digital channels and touchpoints, trust at the individual level begets trust at the institutional level.

Independent agents who can strengthen these networks—of neighbors, friends, business owners, and community members—will be rewarded with the trust and loyalty they cultivate amongst these networks. It’s a dynamic that insurance carriers benefit from too. Trust flourishes when agents are empowered with the tools not just to relate to their customers, but to help their customers relate to one another in meaningful ways. By empowering agents in this way, insurance carriers too can reap the rewards of trust and loyalty that naturally spring forth.

“While in recent years it has been popular to predict the demise of agents and brokers, we strongly believe they will continue to play a vital role in the insurance ecosystem, especially when it comes cultivating trust with customers,” said Josh Levine, Cake & Arrow Founder & CEO. “Covid has delivered quite a blow to small businesses, an important segment of the market. Independent agents are in a unique position to support them as they rebuild and retool their businesses for the future—but they must be equipped, empowered and enabled by the carriers. We offer a vision for what that might look like.”




About Cake & Arrow
Cake & Arrow is an experience design and innovation agency that works with organizations in the insurance and financial services industries to identify new opportunities and design digital products and services that are grounded in real customer needs. Their mission is to help these organizations create authentic and meaningful relationships with their customers, agents, and employees.
Founded in 2002, Cake & Arrow has partnered with leading Fortune 500 companies including MetLife, Citigroup, Travelers, Chubb, and The General as well as recognized leaders in retail including Bose, Lowe’s, KIND snacks, and Saks Fifth Avenue.