For former fitness instructor Andy Brownsell, insurance was once just a stop-gap. But after seeing the scale of opportunities in the industry, he leaped into a new career that has endured and prospered for more than a decade.
While working as a personal trainer, Brownsell joined SportsCover Direct and worked his way through sales, marketing and business development before he was appointed to the position of commercial director in 2014.
One of the Insurance Business
Young Guns, Brownsell has led the business to exceed 20% growth in GWP year-over-year for the past four years, and recently formed an in-house marketing team to keep track of and boost customer experience.
Twelve years into the industry, Brownsell said he is still as passionate about developing the business and learning more, as he was at the beginning.
How did you get into the industry?
My career in insurance started in 2004 but it was more the case that I fell into the industry. I spent my early career working as a personal trainer and later, a health centre manager and initially saw insurance as more of a stop-gap. However, as I began to understand the industry I realised the scale of the opportunity that had presented itself to me at SportsCover Direct, a company I discovered had massive potential. I’m still as passionate about learning more and developing the business as I was when I joined 12 years ago.
What is the most fulfilling thing about your job?
Our business has grown so much and continues to do so which give me a good sense of achievement. We have continually been able to implement changes that improve the journey that customers experience and the product they receive. That can be a good measure of how, as a business, we are doing and I believe all the signs are there that we are delivering an excellent service.
What achievements are you most proud of so far?
Being appointed as a company director at the age of 32 and subsequently steering the business to exceed 20% growth for the past four years is up there as my proudest moment in my professional career. On a personal note, the birth of my children in 2012 and 2014 stand out above everything else.
Describe insurance brokers/professionals in three words.
Communicators, knowledgeable, driven.
How would you change the industry?
I’d like the industry to embrace new technologies and discover what they can do for businesses. There can be a reluctance among the more traditional of those in the industry to try something new so I believe some encouragement is needed to persuade them to move along with the times.
How are you improving yourself and the business?
We are continuing to evolve as a business, which means I, along with the rest of the team, must evolve with it. As a company we plan to open our doors to brokers in 2017, aiming to reinvent the way in which broker-underwriter relationships are forged. We are looking to create our own system to welcome new brokers to the business in order to develop even more niche products.
In the last two years we have also added a review system to our site to measure customer satisfaction. Due to the nature of our business, we were half expecting some harsh treatment when we signed up to review site Feefo, but have excelled in that time, achieving 99% positive reviews.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t burn your bridges. You never know who you might be doing business with in the future so you should always end on a positive note. Anybody you meet throughout your career may present an opportunity to you in the future, so remaining positive is important.
Tell us about yourself outside the industry.
Spending time with my young family takes up plenty of my spare time but I do try to get out on the golf course as much as I can! I only took up the sport fairly recently but wish I had got into it earlier.
Outside of sport I am interested in property design and development and have worked on projects to partially restore a listed property as well as project-managed a self-build project.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…
On the golf course.
If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?
Having been through a very long house purchase recently, I think I’d look to improve the system in England.
What advice can you give to newbie brokers and to those who want to join the industry?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Things are changing all the time in both the insurance industry and in a wider business sense. Embrace new technologies and the pathways they reveal to constantly try to improve your business offering. Looking for untapped opportunities can help you stand out for the crowd, and ultimately provide an improved product for your customers which will then define your business.
Meet the next ‘influential’ man in insurance
Young Guns 2016