There’s a lot to be said about the role that insurance brokers play in protecting, advising and supporting their local communities. But as so aptly coined by the author and sociologist DaShanne Stokes, “if you don’t live up to your words, you have nothing to say.”
The team at DNA Insurance has plenty to say about the role of insurance in making a difference in communities – but prides itself on actions over words, as exemplified by its recent fundraising drive for the benefit of the children’s charity ‘Spread a Smile’. The event saw West Ham legends Sir Trevor Brooking, Tony Gale, and Mark Ward come out in force to support a football tournament sponsored by the broker and the construction business LMAC Group.
One of the two masterminds behind the event, which raised over £20,000, DNA Insurance director Daniel Imray (pictured) spoke with Insurance Business to discuss the success of the day itself and the mindset behind being a great community broker. It was a fantastic day, he said, and one filled with fun and good temper – which is not always a given at football games.
“Our charity auction went great,” he said. “And it was something different for me as we usually have Tony as the compere, but he had another avenue. So I went to [co-mastermind LMAC Group’s Lee McDowell] and said ‘we’ll just do it via papers’ but he said ‘no, we’ll do it – you and me’. Then, as it started, and I went to him to take the microphone, it quickly became just me!
“But we raised a lot of money and it was a lot of fun having banter with people. What was so great was that everyone there was friends of ours and business associates, and so it was a very relaxed environment. In raising money for charity, we were playing people off against each other and it was all done in such good spirits, so it went very well.”
The success of the day was down to everybody who got involved, Imray said – with a special shoutout to his personal assistant Georgia Tibbs for all her great work. It takes everybody coming together to make a day like that work and he long ago found that when it comes to doing charity work, the more people involved, the more enjoyable it is.
It’s not the first or the last of the charity days DNA Insurance has planned, he said, and though he can often be his worst critic in that he never believes he’s doing enough, Imray emphasised the sense of purpose he derives from being in a position to help others in less fortunate circumstances.
“I believe in local communities, I truly believe in trying to help as many people as we can,” he said. “I have a real passion for helping underprivileged children and trying to help them find their path. I think we’re all put on this planet for so many different reasons, and I definitely feel it’s part of [my purpose] to inspire the younger generation to reach their full potential. I think being a child or a young person now is incredibly hard, particularly with COVID - and with all that pressures put on them to succeed, I believe in helping them in any way possible.”
Imray’s work with charitable causes ties in closely with the same ethos that has governed his career in insurance since he entered the market. He believes strongly in the value of being straightforward and honest, and in the worthy nature of hard work. Also essential is having respect for the people you trade with, he said, and understanding the importance of relationships. His own team at DNA Insurance have been with him for a long time because they all understand each other and they share those values.
They might be seen as quite old-fashioned or traditional standards, he said, but they’ve stood the test of time for a reason – and that reason is that they work. The fact that these values represented a meeting of minds with Peter Blanc and the team at Aston Lark is the reason why Imray opted to bring the business under the Aston Lark umbrella in 2021.
“I know everybody in the market, I know all the movers and shakers,” he said. “When I was looking to do the deal, Peter was the one who impressed me the most. The most refreshing thing is that I am very old-school, if I shake your hand, my word is my bond. And when Peter and I discussed the deal and did it, every single thing that he said would happen has happened. It has been plain sailing. He’s got that same ethos of being honourable and trustworthy.”
It’s an ethos that has never faded away, and Imray highlighted how pleased he is with the coming together of Aston Lark and Howden – another business that operates off those strong, relationship-based values.
“At a recent Aston Lark shareholder meeting [David Howden] spoke and he’s got so much zest for life that you can’t fail to be magnetised by it,” he said. “It’s brilliant. So, for me, I’ve just won-won-won. Because Aston Lark are great and now they’re part of Howden, who are great. I’m the luckiest person and my staff are all very lucky people to be in this home.
“And it’s funny because I’ve been in insurance for 25 years, for my sins, and it’s not a career that you really choose. But I’m glad I fell into insurance because I think it’s a very honourable industry and I’ve met so many genuine and lovely people that I do feel blessed and very lucky to have found it.”