60 seconds with… Tim Johnson, chief executive, Paymentshield

How badly has the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal hurt the reputation of protection?

It has affected it in terms of new business sales. It’s incredibly frustrating because it’s a product that people need. It’s a crazy situation where the public don’t trust it but it’s a valuable product. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention when this furore started. However, it has not affected retention levels so those who have a policy aren’t cancelling it.

Why did you decide to cut commissions for brokers who have dormant accounts?

Lots of other providers already do it, even though it has been portrayed as only Paymentshield – that’s not the case. The rationale is that we pay market-leading commissions already and for those who have dormant accounts, there was a deliberate contractual agreement that says if you don’t support Paymentshield, commissions will be cut. But the point everyone seems to miss is that if those brokers become supporters again, we’re more than happy to put the commission back up.

Is your focus more on the direct-to-consumer channel or brokers?

There is a misconception that this business has been built on direct sales. We have a tiny amount of direct business and it is often through a third party call centre so even that isn’t direct to consumer. We’re not a big direct player and it’s been slightly taken out of context. Until I took over Paymentshield I was a general insurance broker for 20 years so I’ve always been supportive of brokers. I’ve got a personal view of the supply chain and I’m fully in that camp.

Do you have any secret talents?

When I was a child I used to do a lot of birdwatching and I can recognise hundreds of birds by their shape, size or song.

Which three people would you invite to a dinner party and why?

Mohammad Ali because he transcended sport, Barack Obama to get a feel for what it’s like doing the biggest job in the world and Henry VIII because he invented his own religion and did a lot to shape the UK.

What book are you reading?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

Interview by Samuel Dale