What’s the key to being successful in insurance broking?

"I think the whole business community is absolutely amazing"

What’s the key to being successful in insurance broking?

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

At what point does a job start to become a career? For those in the insurance industry who started work at insurance businesses after finishing school or university and never expected that years later they would have navigated long and fruitful careers within the sector, this defining moment is difficult to pinpoint.

Owner and director of Stanmore Insurance Brokers and director of dot to dot Jackie Hyde (pictured) first joined the insurance industry following the completion of her A-levels. After applying for several roles in banks, building societies and other institutions she went to work in the Manchester office of a large corporate and build her way up to operating in commercial underwriting.

“I was there for about eight years and then I got married and had a baby girl and when I came back to work it seemed that I’d been written off, that as a working mum I wasn’t being seen as career-minded,” she said. “I felt that I was somewhat dismissed at work through a number of things that happened and then I saw a job more local to home with Stanmore, which was over 30 years ago now.”

It took her three separate attempts to clinch the job but once she was in the door she never looked back, as she loved the transition from working with brokers to undertaking the role of the broker. Hyde recalled how her boss at the time, who later became her business partner, detailed in the interview for the role how the job of the broker is to go out and find out how to make a customer’s life easier and this immediately clicked with her personality.

To be a great broker means being driven by the desire to seek and find the right answers, she said, and to find the right balance between technical qualifications and the day-to-day practicalities of broking. The role is about drilling deep down into what makes a client’s business really tick and about finding the solutions that will make all the difference to them in the long run.

“Our role goes beyond even that to looking at their HR and their health and safety and their risks and pulling that whole jigsaw puzzle together to be able to present to them what their needs are,” she said. “And the whole process must be continuous because, as I always say to my clients, ‘your business is constantly changing and your insurance needs will change with it.’”

In addition to her duties as director of Stanmore, Hyde helped design and now runs dot to dot, a provider of specialist nursery insurance services. This work has given her experience in helping businesses nationwide understand how their requirements change at an industry level, as well as at an individual level. Balancing these two workloads is a delicate task, she said, and she considers herself lucky to be entrepreneurially-minded and able to see the bigger picture.

“I think that’s helped me because I can see how everything interlinks into the business but sometimes that can be a hindrance as well as a positive thing because you’re always 10 steps ahead of yourself and your desk never stops being full,” she said. “So, a key thing is to arm yourself with lots of good people and a great management team.”

By forming both strong internal relationships and great links with clients and suppliers, Hyde noted that she is never at a loss for where to go for advice. This is quite a departure from her early days of being a woman in business, she said, when she was a little warier of sharing when she wasn’t quite sure how to do something. Over the years she has learnt that it is more important to her to be authentic and to share her vulnerability than to not show any weakness.

“As a businesswoman, the world I live in is still male-dominated. I think the insurance company world is doing much better with women being at the top of the tree and I know lots of women that are at senior levels within these businesses,” she said. “But you’re not seeing that as much in the broking world because it means ownership, it means investing and putting your house on the market. There’s a lot of big challenges to ownership and we need to encourage women to take on those challenges because there are so many capable people out there, [who should] take that next step.”

The road to becoming director of two successful businesses has not been smooth for Hyde whose business partner suffered a serious accident seven years ago and unfortunately had to leave the business. In addition to inheriting all his clients, she found herself faced with the prospect of having to run the business single-handedly overnight. She took this as a chance to step back and refocus on how to run the business going forward and on empowering her management team.

Working through this crisis while beating breast cancer allowed Hyde to witness how happy the people around her were to rally and support her when the going got tough. It was this that really helped her keep the plates spinning, she said, and has cemented her view that to be successful is about the support network that you develop around you.

“It’s incredible how many people who knew me and who knew my situation when I lost my business partner just flooded me with calls asking ‘how can I help? What can I do? What do you need?’ And that was amazing, actually, I think the whole business community is absolutely amazing,” she said. “And the insurance broking community was and is brilliant. There are so many people who are always there for you, I just don’t think we use it enough.”

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