Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Could you tell us how long you have been with the company?
I started at GB Underwriting (now MX Commercial) in 2010. While the company was always set up as an MGA, I came on board to help head up their new, small, broking arm. Sadly, that role was short-lived, due to some FCA regulation changes, that book of business was sold. Luckily, I already had some experience working as an underwriter, so I was able to swap my focus seamlessly.
And what do your responsibilities look like now?
I am primarily responsible for our Liability and Contractor products. Which has not changed since I swapped roles. I do have an additional role now though since the acquisition my role also includes overseeing and analysing our broker distribution and business development.
Can you describe how you got to where you are now?
I have twelve years of experience in underwriting, but before that, I was broking, specifically for Contractors Insurance and Public Liability.
My first insurance experience was when I was in year 10 at school. I did some work experience at an insurance broker in Southend, Essex. That broker organised my father’s business insurance, who at the time owned an Italian restaurant.
This was pre-computers, so there was a lot of paper and data entry admin. Things were a lot slower-paced back then, so you can bet I perfected my tea-making skills at that job! I don’t think you’d dream of doing that with an intern now.
I was put off the idea of insurance from this initial experience, and from there went to college to study engineering. Once I finished the course, I was debating what to do next, and by chance, my old manager from the internship bumped into me. He asked if I wanted to come back, and at the time I needed the money, so I took the job.
It gave me the ability to work without any experience, something that I think is unique about the insurance industry.
My first official title was Sales Executive. I was primarily cold calling; literally going through the building contractors’ section of the yellow pages. After I proved myself, I started gaining more responsibility. At that point, I thought “yeah, I can see a career path here”. I ended up staying at the company for two years and became more exposed to their high-risk clients.
From there, I went to a larger insurance provider, who had the ability to quote for other products. I was an Account Executive here and continued to focus on Public/Employers Liability but this role also introduced me to Commercial Combined and Property Owners. It was also where I met my wife!
I stayed at the company for around two years and chose to leave because my relationship was getting more serious. For some people the working dynamic works, but for us, it just did not sit right! There was a lot of opportunity in the market at the time – and it was absolutely the right decision, we’re happily married with two girls and a mini poodle called Norbert!
While talking to some recruitment consultants, one suggested I try my hand at recruitment myself. I ended up exiting the insurance industry and joining Reed in the city as their Insurance Recruitment Consultant.
This was a very eye-opening job for me. The key thing when I went into recruitment was that I wanted the emphasis to be very much on Recruitment "Consultant" and not a salesman but the pressures of the industry made it very difficult to maintain.
I met and got to know a lot of individuals across the insurance industry, so I had a great birds-eye view of their company cultures, perks and the nature of each business.
I ended up joining one of these clients and working with them, therefore re-entering the world of insurance once again. I was in business development and systems, and I became involved with the innovative advancement of some of that company’s platforms. It was here that I struck the balance between business development and a newfound interest in furthering user technologies.
I was 28 now, and beginning to think about starting a family, I bought a house in Chelmsford, and in doing so the commute became too much. It made sense to start looking for a new role and increasing my salary, I decided to look at broking insurance for construction again.
I worked for at this company as an Account Executive (Contractors Liability, Waste and Recycling, and Asbestos). I worked here for about 18 months before a broker friend told me about a company called GB Underwriting. My friend mentioned that GB were looking to create a small broking arm, and he recommended me for the role.
That’s when I joined GB Underwriting (now MX Commercial). In the beginning I was working on a small book of business – however, at the time the FCA had begun to amp up some regulations, and this meant we had to sell the book. From there I was involved in the creation and innovation of GB Online (MXC Online). Because we had sold the book, the team decided to train me up as an Underwriter instead.
After 10 years of working for GB, they were sold to Specialist Risk Group (SRG) and were from then on, destined to become MX Commercial.
What was it like to watch the acquisition from your perspective?
I was not involved in the sale of GB, so I wasn’t aware it was happening. I’d watched the company grow from six to twenty people over a decade. The deal was handled incredibly well – once we were notified that the sale had taken place, within an hour the CEO and Deputy CEO of SRG were on a video call to put our minds at ease and walk us through how we were going to be taken care of – and to talk around the opportunities this would present for everyone.
In my case, I expressed the desire to become more involved in business development and broker relations. So, as a result, I work a dual role.
Our team are people-people. We work in a small office in the countryside and the happiness of the team was important for everyone involved. So far, the acquisition of GB Underwriting has only provided opportunities for all of us.
And, just for fun Michael, tell us something we might not know about you!
I met Queen Elizabeth II! I was in college, completing a course in Advanced Engineering and The Queen visited my college – and my class! I was one of five that was chosen to meet and greet her, we conducted a small experiment for her too.