Broker Roundtable | From Brokerage to Tech Startup

For this issue focusing on data, we spoke to two former brokers who now work on the tech side of the broker channel.

Christy Silvestri—President & CEO, QuickFacts

Sherif Gemayel—CEO, Trufla

CS: My initial role at a local brokerage was in reception, and I eventually took on the role of a service and sales producer. I quickly found myself in the position of training new employees. In two short years, I assumed the mantle of team management. Ultimately, I was privileged to spearhead operations at Atlantic Canada’s first digital brokerage as the Director of Operations & Innovation. Throughout my career, I noticed an overreliance on me as the repository of information for underwriting and internal processes. This dependency posed significant business risks and hindered efficient sales and client service.

Recognizing the critical need for technological solutions to alleviate this pain point, I realized that I was the one who needed to step up. So I developed QuickFacts, an operational software designed to facilitate carrier comparisons, streamline workflows, and enhance training processes. Our journey began quietly in December 2020, with a soft launch in the Maritimes. Today, QuickFacts has expanded its reach to six provinces, with plans to extend its presence to three more by the year’s end.

SG: I started a brokerage in 2009 called Sharp Insurance based in Calgary. I didn’t have any insurance experience prior to starting it. Within the first couple years, we became the fastest-growing brokerage in Canada on the back of digital capabilities. The more we grew, the more we needed technology that wasn’t available, so we started building it. As we were building it, we were approached by our competitors asking to use the technology, and from there, Trufla was born. In 2021, I sold Sharp Insurance to focus solely on Trufla.

Trufla is an insurtech company that offers digital solutions tailored specifically for insurance brokerages. Our platform helps brokerages streamline their operations, improve customer engagement, and enhance their online presence through features like lead management, client portals, and automated marketing campaigns. We empower brokerages to embrace digital transformation and stay competitive in the evolving insurance industry.

How has your current role changed the way you think about data? What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were a broker? 

CS: Now, as a business owner, I can understand how data is immensely powerful in all facets of business. How long does it take to perform a task, and how much revenue do those tasks generate? If we make changes or inject software to supplement these activities, can I measure the benefits? There is so much software out there it’s hard to understand what brings value. Underlying data helps inform those decisions. In speaking with carriers, there’s also a large data gap surrounding front-line broker activity to help them make more strategic decisions.

SG: My new role has given me a whole different view on data and how it can be used. I definitely wish I knew then what I know now. Part of the issue is brokers don’t get access to the data the same way I do at Trufla, so that is a HUGE disadvantage for brokerages. The data set for brokerages is incomplete. That’s a big part of the problem we’re successfully solving at Trufla.

In your experience, what’s an overlooked application of existing data at brokerages? 

CS: The organization of the data within brokerages is commonly overlooked. Data is so powerful, but as everyone knows: garbage in, garbage out. The data within the brokerage needs to be captured using technology in a consistent fashion to be able to harness that data in a meaningful, informative way. Creating processes that a brokerage team will actually follow can ensure they fully utilize technology. 

SG: Being able to get accurate reports on retention and filter through coverages to get a wholistic view of your entire book and exactly what’s happening at any given time. The broker also doesn’t get a chance to see the entire view of their data on the entire journey of their client. That’s a huge miss.

How do you think brokerages could go about making better use of the data at their disposal?

CS: The development of internal workflows and procedures is a must. To get the most out of the data the brokerage is collecting, they need to design processes that are followed. Following the proper processes will yield the information they need to drive changes within their brokerages. 

SG: They need to be able to figure out how to access what data is available to them and analyze it regularly to make data informed decisions.

In the past few years, what’s one of the most promising trends you’ve seen from brokerages regarding tech/data? 

CS: The want for technology. People are tired of doing things the old way and are finally embracing the question I’ve been asking since I started, “Why are we doing it this way?”

SG: One of the most promising trends is the rise of the use of AI in brokerages. Whether it’s through getting data from PDFs, to bots, to pure AI.

How do you imagine brokerages will evolve in the next few years? 

CS: Brokerages that adopt technology and internal processes will be the brokerages that thrive not only with their clients but with their employees and will see a boost in employee retention as well.  

SG: Brokers that use data and intelligence properly and consistently will outperform those that don’t and will create some pain in the market. AI and data will accelerate what’s been lagging behind for years.

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