November marks the 35th anniversary of the start of Spencer Insurance Brokers. Quite an achievement for a small independent broker.
A bit of History
My Dad had been a ‘company’ man since the late 1950s, working for the Phoenix Assurance. After 25 years’ service, he decided that it was time for a change and set up Spencer Insurance Brokers with my Mum, using a room in our home as their office. I can remember during school holidays having to keep the volume on ABBA and Blondie down and not to fight too loudly with my brother when insurance inspectors called, or my Dad was on the phone.
When I was about 18, my parents left me to run the business while they went on holiday. Obviously, this wouldn’t be allowed today (and rightly so) but maybe it was a sign of what was to come many years later?
At the start of my career, my Dad stressed to me the significance of the CII Associateship. It demonstrated a commitment to professionalism. Having just finished my degree, the last thing I wanted to do was to study but I knew how important this was and dutifully completed my ACII over the next two years. Obviously, the bar was set high – my Dad held his Fellowship – and not to be ‘outranked’ by him, I went on to complete my Fellowship which is an achievement I am very proud of. As a Chartered Insurance Broker, I follow a programme of CPD and the learning never stops. My clients change and grow so I too need to adapt and grow with them in my knowledge.
One of the biggest changes since the business started has been in technology. We used to joke about my Dad and his quill pen but moving to a Bic biro was probably the biggest technological advance in the early days!
Nowadays insurers want to transact a lot of business via ETrade and I admit that I am not a fan of this faceless platform. I recognise that for some policies it is the right solution, however, unless the risk ‘fits’ entirely with the insurer’s assumptions, it can get messy.
A broker’s role is not about data input. A broker needs to get to the heart and soul of a client’s business. Find out where their risks lie and what makes them different to others in their sector/industry. Technology enables me to carry out my role and makes it easier, however, I don’t believe it will replace the personal service and care that many businesses need.
We have seen quite a few claims in 35 years and it always feels good when a client’s claim is settled. Different types of claim have emerged as businesses face new risks. One of my recent claims involved a Cyber policy where an employee been duped into sending a large sum of money to a bank account abroad, believing the request to be from the managing director. The bank was unable to recover the funds. When the policy was incepted, there was a subjectivity stating that the client had to call to verify any new account recipients. For many reasons, this hadn’t happened in this incident and the client didn’t think that their claim would be met. I asked them to send me all the relevant information regarding their normal processes which demonstrated that this event was an isolated occurrence. Through this evidence, the insurers recognised that this really was a ‘one-off’ and that normally such procedures were water tight. They agreed to pay the claim and settled at £22,000.
3 years ago, my parents retired completely from the business. The decision to take on the business by myself was not an easy one but it was the right one. During those 3 years, the business has grown. I have continued to develop my specialism of advising manufacturing and engineering businesses. They are sectors which fascinate me and which continue to need a face to face service in a technological world. While I plan to grow the business further I won’t compromise on that service. I love the fact that most of my clients are still local businesses, that I can spend time with them and really get to know and understand how they operate. From their perspective, they have continuity – they always get me -and my superpowers!
I am very lucky to work with great clients who challenge my thinking and value the advice and solutions I provide for them. Some of you have been clients for many years, some of you for only a short time. I would like to thank you all for your support.
During the past 3 years, I have come to recognise the importance of asking for help when I need it. No woman is an island and all that. Help comes in many formats – it may be running my thoughts on a complicated risk past a trusted loss adjuster, receiving guidance and encouragement from my Collective, putting in place plans and strategies with my business coach or working on my mindset to do things I didn’t believe I could ever do. The help and advice I have received has been invaluable and I am extremely grateful to all those who have been involved.
We’re off to quietly celebrate 35 years of Spencer Insurance Brokers. The next big milestone will be the 40th anniversary – perhaps time for a party?!