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One to One: Sarah Watts, head of intermediary GI, Legal & General

Sarah WattsThe push to debunk misconceptions about GI, the need to strike a work-life balance and forging a path to gender equality

What is the most important thing you have learned since taking on the GI role at L&G?
We are committed to delivering a simple and effective customer-led proposition that will help make the customer journey more efficient and straightforward.

By doing this, we can also support advisers in the intermediary space. Advisers play a key role in raising awareness of the importance of general insurance among customers, so simplifying the way in which they can sell these
products and provide a first-class service is another key focus for us.

What do you believe holds some brokers back from offering GI advice to clients?
The general insurance industry has long suffered from the misconception that a customer or adviser needs to spend ages completing endless questions to get a quote.

Customers were also held responsible for providing any incorrect information during the application process, which means that some faced the rejection of their claim.

If there was one thing you could change about the industry, what would it be?
Today’s customers are time poor, so we need to make it easier for them to purchase general insurance through innovative product design, greater digitisation and by creating simpler processes when purchasing insurance.

As a woman working in finance, where do you feel we stand on achieving gender equality?
It’s difficult to speak for the whole finance sector, but I certainly feel that the general insurance industry is making good strides to achieve gender equality.

However, I do feel that there’s still an issue around women believing they can build a successful career while balancing their family life.

At Legal & General, we have fostered a culture that supports and promotes agile working to enable parents to work around their personal commitments.

As a child, what was your dream job?
I really wanted to be an artist. I studied art and graphic design and at one point this was mechanical and electrical design.

Do you have any secret talents?
Unfortunately not – and, if I did, they wouldn’t be a secret.

What is the best advice you have received?
My chief executive and I were talking recently on balancing work commitments with home life. She gave me a great piece of advice which was to “always be at the side line,” whether it’s the side line of your children’s football matches, dance shows or nativity performances.
Being able to have a career while supporting and being there for your children is vital for most parents.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make?
Making the decision to leave Arthur J Gallagher after having worked there for 20 years to join Legal & General was a big step. I can honestly say that I don’t have any regrets about making the move, but I still greatly value my time at AJG and the opportunity to build my career.

If you were chancellor for a day, what would you prioritise?
The first thing I would do is remove university fees. We should be encouraging younger generations to go to university, rather than saddling them with debt or even putting them off entirely.

I’d also be keen to introduce more financial support for the elderly and vulnerable. Implementing care home funding would not only allow these people to access the care they need but would allow them to pass on their inheritance to their families.

Lastly, I would direct more funding into our National Health Service to help ease the huge amount of pressure on it at the moment.
We also need to train and recruit more doctors to ensure everyone has access to the medical help they need, when they need it.

Company profile
Year established: 1838 Legal & General, 1928 General Insurance
Headcount: more than 2,000
Address: The Podium, City Centre House, 5 Hill Street, Birmingham B5 4US
Tel: 0370 900 8829

Legal & General is one of the leading and most experienced providers of home insurance solutions in the UK and has been providing this for more than 90 years.

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