The challenge of prioritising, ensuring advisers quote with confidence, hoping the next planned IPT rise will be dropped – and impersonating a cartoon penguin
In your relatively new role as managing director at Paymentshield, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
There is so much opportunity to develop the proposition and our service to brokers – generating the ideas certainly isn’t a problem.
The challenge comes from prioritising because we want to do everything, and fast, but it is just as important to do things well.
What role do mortgage brokers play in the success of the business?
Brokers are critical to our success. It is not just a transactional relationship; brokers are a driving force in how we take our business forward.
When we decide what to do and how to do it, it’s fundamental that we listen to the brokers and networks we work with. We have to make sure we’re delivering the things that will make a positive difference to them and their customers.
What do you feel brokers should ensure they do when advising on insurance products?
First, do it – too many don’t talk to their customers about general insurance.
And, for people who are tuned in to GI, they should ensure they are using Paymentshield!
What is your favourite part of your job?
I feel lucky to be in this business. We help protect the things that matter most to people.
What plans are in place for business growth and building intermediary relationships this year?
Our main focus is on making sure advisers quote confidently on every opportunity. That comes down to two things: is our proposition compelling to both the broker and their customer, and are we easy to do business with?
We have put together a competitive panel of high-quality insurers and driven rates down so customers get greater value, and sales volumes have increased as a result. The next phase is to bring on insurers with different risk appetites to increase quote conversion further.
Our customer retention is fantastic but we can do even better. Putting more focus and resource on it will drive value for us and our partners.
We are also looking at the way we interact with brokers as well as how we can provide more and better information to help them manage their business.
What is your hope for the market overall in the next 12 months?
No IPT increase! It’s such a soft target and counterproductive. We need more people benefiting from the protection that insurance provides, not reducing or forgoing cover because the tax has doubled in 18 months.
If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
At school, I really wanted to be an architect. An uncle was a successful architect and the idea of designing and building lasting things appealed.
The early 1990s building slump showed how volatile that world could be and some work experience helped me realise that perhaps I was unlikely to be the next Norman Foster.
Who is your all-time hero, and why?
Muhammad Ali: he transcended sport. He was a person of conviction and courage but also an entertainer and activist, with a unique charisma.
Do you have any secret talents?
I do an uncanny impression of Pingu – a cartoon penguin from a children’s TV show.
What do you do in your spare time?
We have two young children so rugby tots, playgroups and changing nappies feature heavily.
If we get a free night, we try to go out for dinner and a gig, and I always try to go to a few rugby international games.
What is the best advice you have received?
Hire people who are or will be better than you.
If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?
Education, training and skills – it’s the best long-term investment any country can make.
We also need to make things easier for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs – they are the people who will grow the economy.