Mon 9 Mar. 2020

President's Message March 2020

Dear Members, Wow, we’ve made it to March. We’ve weathered the storms; fingers crossed that Spring is finally here!

We’ve got 2020 off to a flying start and have a couple of key events coming up in the final few weeks of my Presidency – read on for more details.

As you know, your Council is comprised of volunteers who take on various roles and responsibilities to bring you a series of educational and networking events throughout the year. We also engage with local schools to encourage and educate about our industry, and run exam centres for the CII qualifications. At our AGM each April a new President is elected and we take the opportunity to move round in our roles to allow everyone different experiences if they wish. If you’ve been considering joining Council now could be the perfect opportunity! We’re a friendly bunch, so do get in touch if you’re keen to be involved.

Chosen Charity – Lizzie’s Fund

My charity this year is Lizzie’s Fund, in honour of Lizzie Bramall. More information can be found here:

We have two fundraising events for you to get involved with this month. First up, an Afternoon Tea on the 19th March where you can also claim 30mins CPD (we like to help where we can) where the ticket cost goes directly to Lizzie’s Fund.

Yesterday also saw the launch of our very first virtual run! Pay your race “entry” fee, cover a 10km distance however you like before the end of March and we will send you a medal! I’m thrilled to say that Willis Re have kindly agreed to cover the cost of the medals and so we can donate every single penny of your entry fee to brain tumour research.

Full details can be found on our website and you should also have received a flyer over the weekend with all the information you need if you want to get involved. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the photos and mapping all the run locations! We already have sign-ups in Sydney, Australia – can anyone beat that?!

Educational Events

Last week we held our Annual all-day conference up at Wherstead Park. The turnout was phenomenal – a full house so thank you to everyone who came along and picked up their CPD hours. We had a range of speakers and topics including cryptocurrencies, Grenfell Tower and climate change. We welcomed Sensing Change who are part of Suffolk County Council and who provide advice and assistance to those suffering with hearing and sight loss.

We were also delighted to have our keynote speaker, Ben Smith, whom you may remember from the 401 Challenge where he completed an astounding 401 marathons in 401 days, raising £330,000 for anti-bullying charities in the process.

The Insurance Charities

I am also promoting the activities of the Insurance Charities this year, as both myself and the rest of our Council believe they are a valuable resource of help and support dedicated to our insurance community that are much underused.

The Insurance Charities can provide support for current and former insurance employees and their dependents in the UK and Ireland, experiencing difficult life events. Whether it’s one-off help you need or ongoing support, get in touch and see how they can help.

Find out more about their dedicated service to support anyone in the industry affected by dementia here:

Watch out for Insurance Charities Awareness Week, 22-26th June 2020, when organisations around the country will be holding events. The aim of Awareness Week is to let as many insurance employees as possible know about their industry charity, and that they’re here to provide help and support to those in the sector in times of need.

People are often surprised that they don’t just help those in insurance, but also dependent relatives. When misfortune strikes, whatever it is, it can affect the whole family.

That's all from me for now, I look forward to speaking with a number of you over the next few weeks ahead of our AGM! Read on to discover our latest Day in the Life subject.....


Day in the Life – Richard Howlett

This month we hear from Rich Howlett, who is heavily involved in our Communications team, and will also hopefully be our incoming Deputy President in April!

Whilst I had enjoyed school, the idea of sixth form and further education just didn’t appeal to me once I got there and my focus instead was on my two part time jobs, playing football 5 times a week and seeing my friends. Being based in Ipswich, I was surrounded by Insurers, Insurance Brokers and Loss Adjusters. I started an Apprenticeship at Ryan Insurance Group who would support me through my initial CII exams. Starting off at the bottom as the office junior, I did various basic tasks to help expand my very limited knowledge of the industry. I stayed at Ryan Insurance Group for just two years and progressed through the personal lines and enterprise divisions. Then, by chance at a CII education event, I got talking to an underwriting manager at what was formally Towergate Commercial Underwriting (Now Arch Insurance) who asked me whether I was interested in a career in underwriting. Like most people, I read the back of the CII journal monthly and always wished for one of those London Market Underwriter salaries! As a result I jumped at the opportunity.

Towergate was one of the best places I ever worked. I had the opportunity to immerse myself into the world of Commercial Underwriting, and I feel privileged to have met two people in particular who acted as mentors to me and without whose help, I wouldn’t still be working in the industry. Tony Silve is now the MD at Arch but was originally my trading team manager. Tony interviewed me, gave me my first underwriting licence and taught me the key fundamentals of trading. Aaron Crombie who is now an Underwriting Director at Pen Underwriting took things a step further a year later as my underwriting manager, giving me my first ever senior underwriting licence and one of the worst performing accounts in the business to run and turnaround. This was one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences of my career and I absolutely loved it.

After three years at Towergate, I lived and worked in London for the next few years. I spent time at both China Taiping and Pen Underwriting (I wonder how I got there, hey Aaron?) and expanded on my regional underwriting skills to become a London Market Underwriter. However, I had one of those moments when I came back to Ipswich for Christmas in 2016 where I realised how much I missed my hometown and the people in it. I decided I wanted to move back locally in order to start spending time with the people who were important to me, get myself on the property ladder and start enjoying my sport again. I was given a fantastic opportunity to work at Willis Towers Watson and joined a small team to work on a binder for Insolvent business and Individuals. This worked perfectly as it gave me the opportunity to carry on working with big ticket risks. Two years after joining, the binder was sold to a competitor so I took an opportunity to move back into broking as an Account Executive in WTW’s Power and Utilities division.

I joined Hiscox in November 2019 and as I write this, am enjoying my one year anniversary with the company. Hiscox have that great predicament of being a small company with a fantastic set of values, that has grown organically over many years to become one of the most renowned specialist Insurers. One of the great things about Hiscox is that even though they’re now a FTSE 100 company, the most important thing is service. My role has changed quite a lot over the year I’ve been with Hiscox but as a current member of our pilot team to refine our service proposition, my role consists of:

  • Servicing brokers on their existing business requirements, whether that is large renewals or complex changes. I currently help service most of the southern regions(bar the London market) and I deal with many of the brokers who will see this email
  • Helping to ensure that we are trading as effectively as possible
  • Providing training, mentoring, referrals and ongoing coaching to a variety of a trainee underwriters
  • Managing key broker relationships from an Existing Business perspective

Alongside my role at Hiscox, I am currently studying for my ACII and am also a member of the local CII Council. I got involved after being shortlisted for the Gordon Warren award and winning the CII Council prize committee award in 2017. I currently sit on the Education, YPG and Communication committees and have a keen interest in trying to get more young people into our industry. I am also really looking forward to being the deputy president to our incoming president, Laura Blyth, in April 2020. I’ve made so many friends, contacts and had the opportunity to push myself outside of the norm through my work with the CII and would encourage anyone interested in what we do to come to one of our council meetings, to one of our Education/Social events or to drop me a line. Alternatively, if there is anyone reading this in the infancy of their careers who like I was, is considering moving out of our industry, please stick at it. Hard work and the support from the right people got me to where I am today and I’m sure there are various people inside and outside of your company who would love to mentor you.

Outside of work, I am currently wishing time would slow down as my 30th birthday looms in July. As anyone that has ever met me can attest to, I am ridiculously competitive so have set my set myself a list of 30 things to complete before my 30th birthday. I’m currently 10 challenges down and have events such as the Manchester Marathon and climbing mount Snowdon to look forward to. Thankfully, I have the best training partner in Milo, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Sarah Deacon