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BrokerMind runner-up talks quizzes and all things insurance

At a glance

  • Zurich Insider spoke with broker Scott Mathieson, runner up of BrokerMind 2013, to discuss his narrow loss as well as the insurance sector in general
  • North Lincolnshire-based broker Scott finished second in BrokerMind on a countback to eventual winner Tony Knight
  • Scott also talks of the challenges facing a North Lincolnshire-based broker

Although Scott Mathieson fell agonisingly short at the final hurdle of BrokerMind 2013 to eventual winner Tony KnightZurich Insider caught up with Scott – an Associate Director of Henderson Insurance Brokers – to talk all things insurance, as well as his valiant performance at BrokerMind finals day.

Q: What lines of business do you specialise in and what are the opportunities and challenges you see there?

A: Handling and growing an account of commercial and corporate business at our Kirmington office in North Lincolnshire, I see a lot of challenges at the moment. While the statistics suggest the economy is recovering, it takes some time to filter up to the north and just last week the steelworks at Scunthorpe announced 340 job losses.

Broker Voice gives UK brokers the opportunity to voice their opinion on the state of the insurance industry, outline what makes their own personal style of business different from their competitors, and what personal interests enhance their professional life.

I still see dual-pricing from the market in regards to new business and renewals, and the more commercial clients see savings from tendering their business the more they will do it. This increases work for all concerned including brokers, underwriters and the insured’s financial director but, on the flip side, it provides more new business opportunities.

Q: Are you on social media? What’s your Twitter handle/LinkedIn profile?

A: I’ve not yet embraced Twitter. I do, however, have a fledgling LinkedIn page.

Q: Does the rise of the aggregator model worry you?

A: Not so much. In regards to the majority of the commercial insurance I place, I feel there is always the need for professional advice, but aggregators really do offer what the consumer wants in terms of personal lines and smaller commercial/package policies.

They place a huge emphasis on pricing, which is aimed to hit the consumer between the eyes. But surely – for an intangible product – service, financial strength and claims-paying abilities should be of equal if not greater importance?

Q: What industry changes keep you up at night?

A; None really, I generally sleep well. In my insurance career I’ve had to adapt to the General Insurance Standards Council, the Financial Services Authority and now the Financial Conduct Authority. However, Henderson Insurance Brokers employs a compliance department to ensure we are ahead of the game. The Jackson reforms are also a positive first step towards combating the UK claims culture.

Q: What do you think are the biggest emerging risks, and why?

A: The biggest emerging risks are likely to be cyber liability and flood cover. Flood cover continues to be difficult to obtain in some areas and the unpredictable weather is apparently set to continue. I also think that cyber liability isn’t very well understood, but I anticipate it will become an almost essential form of cover.

Q: Is the market hardening?

A: Yes, I’m seeing increased rates on most renewals, including claim-free risks.

BrokerMind runner upScott Mathieson is pictured above, second from the right, with BrokerMind quiz master and former Mastermind presenter John Humphrys, far right, and Dave W Smith, Managing Director, UK Commercial Broker at Zurich Insurance, second from left. Pictured left is Jess Reid, Live Content Development Editor at Insurance Times.

Q: What is the biggest challenge for brokers today?

A: Differentiating themselves from the competition. Each of my clients are receiving 10+ calls from other brokers at renewal, all wanting to quote and promising the earth, but who should they believe?

In my earlier days of broking, you could simply win business by providing clients with your mobile number and actually answering their calls. However, brokers have had to step up and all are now striving for that USP.

Henderson Insurance Brokers has excellent broking teams in its 11 offices and each office has an ‘in-house’ claims team – there are five dedicated claims handlers at Kirmington – and it’s important that they interact with the client and assist with building that relationship. Ultimately, though, it’s a service industry and if you don’t look after your customers, someone else will.

Q: Do you think brokers are recognised enough by the public for the value that you add?

A: No. Brokers are not correctly recognised as professionals by the public. This is partly due to us undertaking client reviews free of charge and while most brokers are willing to do the same, why would somebody pay for a review?

I was concerned over how I was perceived as an insurance broker and that was the main reason I decided to undertake the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Advanced Diploma in Insurance qualification (ACII) and become a chartered insurance broker.

The ACII isn’t easy, it takes several years to complete. However, it’s not the qualifications that make you a professional, it’s in the way you act and the advice that you give. Ethics are a massive part of  professionalism and I’m pleased the Chartered Insurance Institute has now given this greater credence.

A good broker can add huge value to a firm, sharing their experience, risk management knowledge and contacts before they have even looked at a policy.

Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to get cover for?

A: Other than the odd ‘hole in one’ insurance policy, I’m not sure I’ve ever insured anything particularly strange. That being said, when someone asks me if insurance is repetitive I generally give the following example. On one industrial estate,I was insuring a haulier, a storage firm, a steel manufacturer, a plastic manufacturer, a toy manufacturer, a balloon distributer and a motor home manufacturer and each business carried very different risks as did their working practices.

Q: Rugby or football? And what team do you support?

A: Football. I play five-a-side twice a week and my team, HIBL ‘Kirmington’, recently won a competitive local league. I much prefer to play rather than watch.

Q: What would be the title of your autobiography?

A: Mr Competitive – I never like losing and I can turn most things in life into a competition. I even hold the title of the largest baby in the office! My second boy William was born at 9lb 8oz. I’m reminded that my wife had something to do with it.

Following BrokerMind a few weeks ago, I’m still happily informing people that I actually outscored the eventual winner by four points during the day, only losing the final on a tie due to the number of passes. Unfortunately, my earlier first round score didn’t carry forward.

Ethics are a massive part of professionalism and I’m pleased the Chartered Insurance Institute has now given this greater credence.

Q: Newspaper or iPad?

A: Newspaper. I look at the screen too much during the day.

Q: Can’t get through the weekend without…?

A: A beer and a workout. I like to keep things balanced, I don’t chastise myself for having a pint or indulging in a nice meal, so long as the next day I’m in the gym or on the treadmill working it off. Weekends are also family time, playing sport and games with my two boys aged nine and seven.

Image © Getty

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