A hunger for excitement, mixed with the desire to be in charge of what’s to come, is what brought Tom Chaston (pictured) to where he is now at specialist insurance broker All Med Pro. In this Q&A, the company director takes Insurance Business to where it all began – from the disappointments all the way to setting up shop.
Here Chaston reveals what they don’t want technology to do, as well as what All Med Pro is moving towards. The health advocate also talks about the benefits of being part of the Bluefin Network, and what he believes brokers should be leveraging.
What led you to co-found All Med Pro?
Myself and co-founder Adam O’Keeffe worked together at another insurance brokerage but we had become disillusioned with the lack of vision and drive to really grow the business. In short, we felt that the business was stagnating and as two young and hungry individuals we wanted to be part of something that felt exciting. The drive to start our own brokerage really stemmed from wanting to take control of our own future.
Through our shared frustrations, we created this vision of the type of place we wanted to work – everything from the types of clients all the way through to the type of culture we wanted in a business environment. We felt that we could create this vision ourselves. I reached out to my network of friends from within the insurance industry and set up All Med Pro – an insurance brokerage that specialises in the dental and medical sectors. Both Adam and myself already had six years’ worth of experience servicing the dental sector and felt that targeting dental, general practice, and surgeons & consultants would be aligned with our experience.
From working closely with dentists for six years prior to co-founding the business, we recognised that the dental sector was full of specialist service providers to dentists such as sales agents, IFAs (independent financial advisers), recruitment advisers, accountants, and legal advisors. We believed there would be a good opportunity to create strong affiliate partnerships in order to generate new business and help increase brand awareness. This was very important to us as we were a new brand with no marketing budget and just the equivalent of the Yellow Pages and a telephone to get us started!
As a director who’s been there right at the beginning, what do you envision for the business?
The business has evolved over time significantly. Due to expansion we moved offices three years ago and currently have a team of 14. We started to bring in additional key skills that we didn’t have already within the business.
Our vision is to double the size of the company within the next three years. We are investing heavily in technology to help streamline the business and make it more scalable. This involves automated workflows, enhanced customer journey touch-points, as well as automated documentation and bordereaux for our delegated underwriting schemes. Our planned use of technology is not to reduce our advisers’ customer contact points but rather free them up to spend more time having meaningful conversations and building stable, long-lasting relationships with our clients.
What are the advantages of being a Bluefin Network member?
Aside from the tangible benefits, such as client money handling, I feel we benefit a lot from the peer-to-peer advice opportunities with both the Bluefin team and other brokers. They’ve also been incredibly helpful with our systems development. Also, additional deals for partner brokers, such as with the likes of Shawbrook Bank, have opened up potential new opportunities for us. We recently completed an MBO (management buyout) with the support of Shawbrook Bank. Growth through M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity has always been something we are interested in exploring if the right opportunity arises.
Given your 15 years of experience, what changes would you like to see in the industry?
A lot has changed in the last 15 years. The industry is starting to now see greater innovation with products and services. I would like to see more proactivity from the industry to support customers with risk mitigation services. As brokers, we often have more agility than big corporate organisations and we should capitalise on this as we have a huge opportunity but limited time to make the most of a head-start currently available to us. Working more closely with customers to reduce their risk, claims, and premium will increase the value a broker can offer and differentiate between what you can offer and what a competitor can.
All Med Pro runs CPD-accredited (Continuing Professional Development) risk management workshops around the country for dentists, focusing on areas that we see specifically leading to a higher volume of claims or greater claims costs. The first event had around 50 dentists in attendance to learn from other experienced dental professionals and dental lawyers, and the most recent one in September was a hands-on workshop designed for implant dentists to learn how to properly plan an implant case. That was fun!
If you were to leave insurance for another sector, which one and why?
I would want to choose something that I am passionate about, which currently is health-orientated and where we could really implement some form of cutting-edge technology to improve people’s lives. This would be through a combination of nutritional support with food and exercise in a way that is sustainable for the end-user.