The launch of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) initiative, Peer Networks in November 2020 may not have come to the attention of all, given the pandemic’s monopoly of most news headlines. However, the very fact that such a £20m programme has been launched, should cast light on the value of peer networks in general.
The Peer Networks scheme, delivered through local Growth Hubs, allows businesses to come together, to discuss challenges and work collaboratively on problem solving. It is open to businesses with a turnover of over £100,000 and who have at least five employees.
Whilst this is not going to include all businesses, it is interesting to note what has been said about networks, by some of those involved in Peer Networks. Nicki Clarke, Chief Executive of UMi, one of the delivery partners, has said, “Being a business leader can be a lonely place and there has never been a more important time to draw on the support available from other people and particularly their peers … Sometimes it is the outside perspective that helps bring challenge, innovation and clarity.”
Here at Willis Towers Watson Networks, we could not agree more. Our individual and independent brokers can feel isolated in the world of insurance broking and unable to gain peer support, to learn how others, in exactly the same position as themselves, manage things, cope with business challenges and grow.
By joining our network, they gain access to not just all of the support and resources that Willis Towers Watson Networks can provide, in terms of training, access to market, business manager mentoring and other tools but also valuable peer support.
As this is so useful, although having our broker members meet face-to-face has been an impossibility during the pandemic, we have brought Network Members together by virtual means, through video conferencing and via webinars in which they could speak to each other directly, or through comment facilities and chat.
In more normal times, we arrange training sessions, conferences and social events at which brokers, all facing the same daily challenges, can compare notes and benchmark what they are doing, against how others have decided to proceed with things. This creates a forum for dynamic thinking and provides a continually fresh perspective, from people who are 100% relevant to the world of insurance broking. It’s not all about talking through successes and winning approaches but about expressing fears and concerns too. Peers can inadvertently become mentors and help a broker achieve a more pragmatic approach, offering advice that can be instantly implemented within your independent insurance broking business.
Our Network Members are typically generous with their advice and happy to answer questions, with no sense of competitiveness. We foster the concept of a Willis Towers Watson Networks family and all are welcome to ask for advice at its table. Our Network is full of real people, with real learning, growth and development needs and their peers assist with the satisfaction of those.
If you wish to benefit from peer support, the BEIS scheme may be one route for you. If you are an independent insurance broker, wishing to grow your business, The Willis Towers Watson Networks offer may be a very valuable alternative, given all the other benefits that sit around the peer support you will receive.