You use lots of leads from lead generation firms, what are the benefits?
In my opinion this is the only way to obtain a consistent supply of new clients. I believe in quality over quantity and you get what you pay for with leads. We can be postcode and criteria-specific with our purchases too, which is of crucial importance in our industry. I would stress, however, that getting lead purchasing right is just part of the process. You also need trained telemarketing staff on hand for a quick turnaround to make leads into placeable, sellable and ethical appointments for brokers.
Do claims firms have a damaging impact on broker businesses?
Yes. Of course, consumers must retain the right to complain and irresponsible brokerages must be held accountable for inappropriate advice. But too many unscrupulous claim firms encourage speculative claims where no fault exists and this has a tangible cost on running a business.
The golden rule is to ensure your processes and procedures are watertight in the first place, but Financial Ombudsman Service fees must be paid whether a firm is found guilty or not. One-man bands and small firms in particular can find this challenging and costly.
What is your most extravagant purchase?
I ran up an astronomical bill in the penthouse suite of a top Warsaw hotel in 2003, mostly on gratuitous room service and the contents of a ridiculously overpriced mini-bar stocked mainly with miniscule pots of macadamia nuts and slightly salted pretzels. It was wasteful decadence but in my defence I was recovering from glandular fever and the ability to eat for the first time in months got the better of me. I still maintain the four-figure sum was worth it.
Who is your biggest hero and why?
My great uncle Witold Urbanowicz who escaped Poland through mainland Europe during World War II to become a Hurricane pilot and Squadron 303 leader, scoring 15 kills in the Battle of Britain alone.
Unfortunately, as Poland did not gain its independence from the Soviet Union until 1991, he was unable to return to his homeland.
What book are you reading?
India with Sanjeev Bhaskar. Great book and good preparation for my honeymoon there in October this year.
Interview by Samuel Dale