While many industry stalwarts fell into insurance, Alan & Thomas Insurance Group chief executive Julian Boughton (pictured) knew what best suited him in terms of his strengths and interests.
Sharing with Insurance Business how his broking career came to life in the ‘80s, Boughton reveals what continues to excite him after all these years. Here he talks about the milestones he will never forget, and flies the flag for value creation.
What led you to a career in insurance, and what made you stay?
My work experience at a loss adjuster [when I first started my career in 1980] gave me the chance to look through the shop window of the insurance industry. I liked the thought of delivering positive results for customers. I was also good at sales and looked at ways to combine the two.
Insurance broking was the obvious choice for me as it was an opportunity to create even greater value for customers, beyond giving them a great claims experience. Proactive risk management advice combined with an opportunity to win business, being self-employed – I joined a mortgage broker to start up a GI division in 1984 – and controlling my own destiny by results were what excited me then and still does today. There’s something about the thrill of the chase and satisfaction of winning a new customer.
In your nearly 35 years with Alan & Thomas, what do you consider as the biggest milestones?
As with all careers, there are a number of milestones which stay in the memory. Leading the management buy-out from the founder of the business in 2001 gave us the platform, and the purchase of our current head office at 314-316 Bournemouth Road enabled us to physically grow. Each of the 13 acquisitions we have transacted has bought something more to the business than scale per se, including some brilliant people and clients.
More recently, we secured Global Risk Partners as our majority shareholder in 2017 to help facilitate our ongoing and future growth plans. Finally, providing nominal leadership to a fantastic management team and workforce is a personal milestone that I get huge satisfaction from every day.
As chief executive, what do you envision for the Chartered Insurance Broker?
I’m a strong supporter of Chartered status and it has a crucial role to play as the standard bearer for maintaining the principles and integrity of the insurance industry. I want to see accreditation becoming truly recognised and differentiated upon by insurer suppliers / partners, and for customers, that they continue to see the differentiation Chartered status really brings and respond positively to the value creation it offers.
What would you say have been the most notable developments in the world of broking?
Change is an ever-present in our industry, and the pace of change is accelerating. Nobody would be surprised to hear me say that consolidation is a key development, both among insurance suppliers and among broking businesses. Consolidation goes hand in hand with the explosion in the use of technology and subsequent advances in e-traded business.
Regulation in all its forms, initially with the FSA (Financial Services Authority) and now the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), has transformed the way we conduct business, and staying with regulation/legislation, I should mention the Insurance Act 2015, bringing greater certainty and clarification to customers using our products and services.
If you were to leave insurance for another industry, which one and why?
I’d go into property development. It’s fun to do, I seem to be good at it, and it creates value in many ways for many people.
Name one thing your peers probably don’t know about you.
Two things for me: I’m a drummer in a three-piece band, and I competed in the British Rowing indoor championships at Olympic Park, London in 2016.