A good percentage of the brokers Insurance Business has featured somehow fell into the industry or found their way into the realm of risk and coverage by accident. In the case of Spike Dolphin (pictured), who came onboard Lloyd’s broker Tasker & Partners not too long ago at the age of 18, the move “ticked the boxes.”
Here the young executive, whose name you probably won’t forget even if you tried, shares his experience of walking into Lloyd’s of London for the first time and why he thinks his age isn’t a big deal.
What brought you to the world of insurance?
I was pointed towards the university route. I applied and was lucky enough to secure a place but it just wasn’t really for me – it was the route everyone was pushed down at school after A-levels.
I had the ambition to be working in a worthwhile career, just wasn’t sure what options would be available at the time after A-levels but without a degree.
However, with insurance I realised that with hard work I could get a head start. I could achieve more by working within the industry for two years than I would have after three years studying at uni and then trying to get on a graduate scheme. Insurance also provides you with the best of both worlds – it provides the opportunity to complete industry-recognised exams while working and gathering vital on-the-job experience.
The opportunity to join a Lloyd’s broker came up and it ticked the boxes. The only other potential opportunity at the time was at an oil trading firm, but that was desk-based inputting data. I work best being in the thick of it all, and working with people in a busy team and joining a Lloyd’s broker provided this opportunity to thrive.
As a young broker in the Lloyd’s market, what has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
You’d think that it would be the age, but I have to say that walking into Lloyd’s no-one I’ve engaged with cares whether you’re a 21-year-old like myself, or a 40-year-old experienced placing broker. It’s about what skills and character you bring to the table regardless of your age, and it can also be about the broking house behind you that you represent.
Because of the strong people skills and relationship side to the role I found it less daunting than I first imagined it, which was surprising but also a huge confidence boost. I think I’m lucky because of the team that I have around me. The way we complement and support one another means that when I earned my ‘badge’ and walked into Lloyd’s for the first time I felt prepared. If anything, being well prepared meant that I could use being a ‘young’ broker to mine and the team’s advantage.
What aspect of your work at Tasker & Partners excites you the most?
The diverse experience and backgrounds of our team. There’s a lot of knowledge, experience, and characters spread between us and therefore lots that we learn from each other. Certain lines of income in our team have doubled in size within three years and are therefore a good foundation for our ambitious growth plan ahead – it’s an exciting place to work.
Our director, Tom Shipston, is young in the scheme of things and gives a fresh approach to how we go about our business. We’re not just taking the generic path of Lloyd’s brokers just because it’s what has worked in the past. We aren’t scared to step up and take on challenging cases when others give up at the first hurdle.
Looking ahead, what career goals have you set for yourself?
Ideally, I’d like to be an integral part throughout the team’s mission and hope to be part of the ownership structure one day. That way you can really see the rewards from the hard work in the team’s transition from a small business to a larger player with market share.
If you were to leave insurance for another industry, which one and why?
The skills in insurance broking, especially face-to-face trading in Lloyd’s, are transferable to any industry if you think about it. However, in insurance we are assessing risks across multiple industries and sectors and therefore it offers more day-to-day diversity than other more restrictive sectors. Why would I want to work elsewhere? (Really cool, I know.)
Name one thing your peers probably don’t know about you.
I was refused company business cards for six months after I started broking… The bosses said if people don’t remember my name there’s something seriously wrong!