As part of Post’s countdown to the 20th anniversary of the British Insurance Awards in July, we spoke to two past winners of the Young Achiever accolade. Keeley Goding won the award in 2010 for her work in Hiscox’s technical claims business, while David Britton scooped the prize in 2012 for his part in implementing a new risk assessment tool, among other achievements.
How has your career progressed since winning the BIA Young Achiever Award?
Keeley Goding, technical claims manager, Hiscox: Shortly after winning the award I moved internally within Hiscox from a technical claims manager role to managing our underwriting centre, which I have been doing now for the past three years. The move was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my skill set and gain knowledge of another area of our business. There are 60 people in the underwriting centre across two locations, so it also allows me to use my experience to coach and develop others in their careers.
David Britton, niche account manager, Ecclesiastical: It’s been busy. I’ve continued my career at Ecclesiastical and am now about to start leading our schemes underwriting team. I’m very much looking forward to the new challenge.
What have been the highs of the industry since you won your award?
KG: The increase in bright young talent looking to the insurance industry for a sustainable long-term career has been pleasing to see. Closer to home, Hiscox’s move to York, where we are currently in a temporary office as we prepare to start work on our permanent home – which will be ready in 2015 – has been an exciting step for the UK business.
DB: Seeing the industry consistently and promptly respond to the flood and storm events in the UK has been great to see. In a very difficult time for many of our customers, our industry is often out there on the ground very early after an event to help people get back on their feet.
And the lows?
KG: The claims environment has been relatively benign over the past 12 to 24 months, but the extensive flood and storm damage seen in December 2013 and early 2014 – and the distress this caused households and businesses – is never nice to see. That’s our job though, to be there for our customers in their time of need.
DB: Related to the highs really. The debates over the future of flood insurance and Flood Re have been rather frustrating. It has felt at times like the industry and the government have been at loggerheads, when we should be working together to find an answer. Hopefully a working solution is not far off now.
What were the biggest challenges facing the industry when you won your award? Have they changed since then?
KG: The amount of regulation facing insurers has been an ongoing challenge for the industry in recent years and does not look set to change any time soon.
DB: It wasn’t too long ago – only 2012 – so unfortunately I don’t think there’s been much change. The main challenge I see is building public trust in our industry. As a result of the banking crisis and payment protection insurance issues, people don’t have much trust in financial services as a whole, and this has also had an impact on their perception of our industry. We’ve got to find ways of staying focused on our customers, and then engaging with them so they can see the difference we make every day and the importance of the services we provide.
How do you expect the market to change in 2014?
KG: I expect distribution to continue to evolve as a result of broker consolidation and changing consumer buying habits. Technology is transforming the consumer relationship and consequently the industry as a whole will need to continue to adapt in order to remain relevant and competitive.
DB: It will be interesting to see if there’s any hardening of rates in the commercial markets. It’s still very competitive but there are signs in some areas, such as casualty, that rates can’t be sustained at their current levels for much longer.
Who would be your dream BIA music performance?
KG: I would love to have seen The Beatles live so – since this is hypothetical – so I’d have to say them
DB: It might be a bit niche, but I would go for Arcade Fire. They are fantastic live. If not Arcade Fire, then the BIA 20th anniversary could be the perfect time for the long-awaited David Bowie live comeback!
What is your best memory of the BIAs?
KG: Sharing the win with colleagues on the night was great, and lots of other market contacts who were also there on the night came up to our box to congratulate me.
DB: Probably being described by Jimmy Carr as “The Harry Potter of the insurance world”. I’ll take it as a compliment.
The BIA is 20 years old this year. What were you dong in 1994?
KG: In 1994 I was in my second year of secondary school, blissfully unaware of where my career would take me, listening to Take That when they were still a five-piece band.
DB: I had just finished infant school actually.
If you had not chosen a career in insurance what do you think you would be doing now?
KG: For a time I considered becoming a language teacher as I did my degree in Modern Languages and loved learning them, but I soon decided I didn’t have the patience for a classroom and would be better suited to a professional environment.
DB: I would like to say I would have fulfilled one of my childhood dreams and been up to something adventurous and exciting, but realistically I would have ended up in some other part of financial services.
What would be the one piece of advice you would give to someone beginning their insurance career?
KG: You get out what you are prepared to put in. The best advice I could give would be to get your exams done as soon as you can – the longer you are out of education the tougher it will be to go back [to work]. Second, be open to feedback on your development areas and act on it. There’s always something you can do better.
DB: Make sure you get a chance to spend time in as many different disciplines of the industry as possible. I found there was great variety in the types of roles available across underwriting, claims, broking and beyond, so take an opportunity to get as much experience as you can.
What was the first prize you ever won?
KG: I have a terrible memory but I imagine it would have been a gymnastics award of some kind, as I did a lot of that when I was younger.
DB: Struggling to remember, but I did get a Blue Peter badge for writing in to complain about light pollution – I was clearly very environmentally conscious as a youngster.
Finally, the most important question of all: where do you display your trophy?
KG: The trophy sits in the study at home, although I do occasionally use it as a door stop too.
DB: It has pride of place on my mantlepiece.
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