BIBA Young Broker winner on disrupting the insurance broking model

What's impacting UK businesses – and how can insurance brokers actually help?

BIBA Young Broker winner on disrupting the insurance broking model

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

Those looking for insight into the philosophy at the heart of Capsule need look no further than the Cheltenham-based brokerage’s byline - Insurance for the bold and ambitious. This ethos was recently endorsed by former BIBA CEO Steve White when he named Capsule co-founder and COO Liam Green (pictured) as the recipient of the Oliver Rose BIBA Young Broker Award and earmarked him as “one of our next generation’s leaders”.

Addressing the “very flattering” recognition, Green highlighted how the support and praise from peers, partners and clients alike affirmed not just his personal journey but also how far Capsule has come. Looking back on his trajectory to date, he said he came to the insurance sector by a road familiar to many in the industry – one of opportunity and circumstance coming together.

“I didn’t go to university so I came straight out of school,” he said. “I’d always had an interest in business and the financial services sector and I found myself stepping into a pensions administration role. It was a really boring role but it was a way to get on the ladder and I knew I needed to do something. I quickly found that I had a real passion for financial services and I was really lucky that a friend of mine from school was working at a small insurance broking business called Kingsbridge.

“When they heard I was starting to look at this sector and go through some of my CII qualifications, they said that I must join the business. I was 20 at the time and, if I look back on my career, I think everyone gets a certain slice of luck, a few opportunities that if they seize them can be really career-changing. And I look back on that as one of those moments.”

How to scale-up an insurance brokerage

When he joined the business it was a small enterprise with a team of about 10-15 staff, but over the next decade, Green and future Capsule co-founder and CEO Thomas Wynne supported its rapid growth into a 100-plus team commanding several rounds of private equity investment. It was a phenomenal journey, he said, and one which allowed him to see a business run from every angle – joining as a sales agent before working his way up to become team manager, underwriting director, commercial director and managing director in quick succession.

“Over those 10 years of my 20s, the business was growing so quickly, we were scaling like mad and recruiting as many people as we could,” he said. “We were based in sleepy little Tewkesbury, a town in the Cotswolds, and we ended up becoming this employment hub for people early in their careers who shared our ambition to create a great culture of ‘work hard, play hard’. It felt more like a sixth-form common room at times, but it was great.”

Of everything he learnt while building up Kingsbridge, those crucial early lessons on how to build and retain a fantastic culture which runs on energy, shared passion and a commitment to delivering for clients provided a clear signal for where Green wanted to go next. Having gone through a few rounds of private equity investment Kingsbridge was sold to a US buyer in April 2020, he said, and when they emerged from the sale process and had handed over to the new owners, he and Wynne had a shared ambition to do it all again.

Capsule – starting from a blank sheet of paper 

“We came out knowing what we wanted to do,” he said. “We’d learned how to scale a business and, in an odd way, we almost learned how to exit a business before we had started one ourselves. Tom and I had gone through the process of laying the foundations for the next phase for Kingsbridge but I think we’d always had the intention of setting up our own venture. We both have disruptive mindsets, we share that mentality of innovation and challenging the status quo which was the core aim for Capsule.”

From the first tentative “whispers” of starting a new venture from scratch, Green was all in, and he noted that starting with a blank sheet of paper is what allowed him and Wynne to consolidate their ambition to disrupt the insurance industry in a positive and meaningful way. They jumped straight back into that high-energy, high-growth startup mindset, he said, because a scale-up environment is where they both thrive.

“To a certain degree, it almost didn’t matter what we were going to do, we just knew we were saying ‘yes’ to starting our own thing,” he said. “The idea for Capsule as a business model actually came about from Tom looking at the Sunday Times supplements on the fastest-growing businesses in the UK and then thinking about who in the insurance broking industry is looking at those businesses as opportunities.

“And then when we spoke to those startups, it seemed as though nobody was really zeroing in on their needs and understanding the journey they were on. So we identified the niche and the need that goes around that.”

Underinsurance and service – what’s impacting UK businesses?

Capsule’s early research identified two key areas facing these businesses in the current environment – underinsurance and service. Underinsurance is something all insurers are concerned about amid such harsh economic conditions, he said, but it’s a problem exacerbated in the context of high-growth businesses because they’re scaling up so rapidly that the coverage that fits their needs is out of date even just a month down the line, let alone at the end of a 12-month policy period.

Service was the other area in which Capsule sees high-growth businesses being under-resourced, Green said, particularly because so many brokers are looking at how to create greater efficiencies in serving small businesses – often to the detriment of the client in question. These SME brokers are looking at ways to speak to clients no more than once a year, which is creating a highly transactional insurance relationship that doesn’t add as much value for the client.

“What we’ve seen is that clients buying insurance want more than that, they expect more than that,” he said. “They want a broker that’s going to engage with them regularly, be more strategic and be a partner in thinking about how they can future-proof their business. So, we’re very passionate about making sure that we deliver high-quality service, committing to the promises we make to clients and being more of a strategic and proactive partner than any other broker.”

This is achieved through the carefully applied use of technology and data, he said, because if you’re looking to be the insurance partner of a tech-forward business, you can’t afford to be using outdated procedures and practices. Where data fits into this is through the use of publically available sources to track the business as it grows and evolves.

A changing dynamic in insurance

This is creating a shift in the established power dynamic of brokers and clients by making it the responsibility of Capsule to keep abreast of the changing insurance needs of its clients. Some brokers are still making their clients do all the work, he said, by sending out PDF proposal forms and expecting insureds to keep them up to date on changes, but this approach doesn’t work for high-growth technology businesses.

“We’re using data and technology to form a picture of a business before we even speak to them,” he said. “And we use that data to improve the customer journey. It sounds like it should be common sense but you’d be surprised at the lack of that approach in the insurance industry.”

What’s next on the agenda for Capsule?

Looking at what’s next on the agenda for Capsule, Green noted that despite only being 18 months in its journey, the business has already built a team of 32 staff – many of whom are recruits from global broking giants who are looking to be part of something new and dynamic.

“We’re right at the start of that journey,” he said. “We’re doing a decent job already of setting ourselves apart from the traditional broker market. But we have no intention of stopping where we are. There’s so much more that we can do to make the [insurance] process better and to drive better outcomes. That’s the bit that really drives the passion in me, to not just be a little bit different but to be completely different and to drive real change.”

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