An interview with RWA Business Manager, Peter Stokes

Teamwork is a big part of RWA and one of the main values that we place in our people, the customers and the communities within which we work. I was therefore keen to sit down with RWA Business Manager, Peter Stokes, to chat about his role within RWA and where he sees the future for our clients and us as a company:

Hi Peter, an obvious one, but can you start by introducing yourself and explain a little about your role within RWA?

Yes. My name is Peter, and I've been with RWA just over four years now. My role focuses on servicing and assisting insurance brokers with their regulatory requirements. I am also there to assist in other matters that I may be able to pass on to my colleagues within RWA whose expertise in a certain area might be greater than mine. I tend to specialise in client money and Training & Competence. Within RWA, I have also helped several new start-ups to get up and running by overseeing their authorisation process. I also assist with some My Development Zone work from a technical content point of view.

And what attracted you into compliance?

The main reason was to get away from the sales environment as I felt I had nothing left to prove, I was actually quite good at it. I was also employed as a regional training officer at Lloyds, and I got a real buzz out of helping people progress. When I was offered the opportunity to leave sales and move to a compliance role I jumped at the chance. I still get a real buzz when I've helped recruits get going when they have joined RWA. That element of teamwork engages me.

Having had the pleasure of working with you for four years, I know that ‘people’ are an important element of your work life. Can you describe why you put so much emphasis on that?

I think it's important that you get to know people who you work with, clients are no different. I have a couple of mantras that I've lived by for many years. 1. Life is short; you have to enjoy it as you only get one go at this. 2. If something is not fun, then stop doing it; life is too short to do things that aren't fun. By employing those two simple thoughts then your working life can be enjoyable. It's much better to get on with clients as it makes visits more rewarding, it doesn't always work, but it does for most people. If you win the clients’ confidence, then it makes life so much easier.

RWA puts a lot of emphasis on teamwork, both internally and externally. Can you give any examples of where you have seen this in action?

Yes, I've had the pleasure of working with a company to help them become authorised, which we managed to achieve with very little fuss. Sadly, there were external factors which meant that there was a real chance that the firm would not survive. After a few months of false hopes, I was told that the organisation had taken on two very experienced people to relaunch the firm. I then had in-depth conversations with them and realised that there was an opportunity to take this firm down a different path. So, I spoke to Robin at RWA who put a grain of an idea in my head. After some thought, I then called you and together we put together a plan that involved same rather radical thinking (very much outside the box). We also brought in Kate who was able to add HR expertise to the solution. This solution was accepted with open arms by the client, and we are working as a team to deliver on our proposal. Without the input from you and Kate, I'm convinced this company would have probably called a halt to it all at great expense.

That's a great example of where RWA has proven to be more than just about compliance. What other areas do you see in the field where RWA can add value to our clients which they may not realise?

RWA has real expertise in so many areas now, not just regulation. We have some great people associated with online learning. Wherever I go I let everyone know what a great training tool My Development Zone is. We also have a team that can help brokers who either wish to sell their business or buy another broker/book of business, that is a real minefield, and our expert team can guide them along the way as they know what to do and more importantly when to do it. As already mentioned we have an HR function that I've seen assist firms in developing HR processes and when there have been situations that could have led to actions against their firm. Most firms I deal with were unaware of the breadth of the services on offer, I have seen them all in action, and they really do work.

Let's focus a little on digital transformation now. The customer experience is central to our success; what risks do you see on the horizon for UK insurance brokers and how do you see RWA adapting to help support identifying and mitigating those risks?

I think one of the big risks is the development of the 'online broker' and I'm not talking about aggregate sites either. There are many digital solutions now that allow you to take care of your insurance needs by using their interactive websites that do all of the thinking for you, and they are all about embracing the new tech that is available. Will these new fintech solutions replace the advice that a broker can give? I’m not so sure, but these forward-thinking companies receive a lot of investment and are doing things with data that will disrupt the market. RWA is a company that embraces change, and we are planning for a future where we can be there at the deep end, helping companies out there that don’t always have the same resources behind them. The world is changing at a massive rate of knots now, and if we want to keep up with the advancement, then we have to embrace these changes and then start to re-educate companies that want to move forward. I'm not too sure the traditional brokerage will last much longer unless they acknowledge change, RWA can be that company that helps them through this transitional period as that is where our expertise lies.

Thanks, Peter, it is something that we are investing a lot of our own research and development time into. What does digital mean to you and why is RWA in the driving seat regarding our future developments and what we can offer our clients?

To me, digital means having everything at our fingertips. Already we can purchase virtually anything just by picking up our smartphones. I bought my last motorcycle simply by using an iPhone, I never spoke to the seller. This will, in the not too distant future, be the way be the way we do most things. The biggest thing for me is not having to go to the Supermarket every week, it's all done online, and it arrives at our house the next day. RWA for their part have always tried to be innovative in their approach to things; we can evidence this with the major revamp of our own products such My Development Zone. By continuing to employ people with the right credentials that can bring new ideas to the table, RWA can be at the front line if the client facing team acknowledge change as well. Selling transformational ideas to clients who are still resistant to change is going to the hardest part, but with patience, the right tools and some understanding I'm convinced RWA can lead the way.

Where do you see RWA in 20 years?

Well, for one thing, it will not include me. With the right leadership and embracing the right technology and people I foresee RWA as one of the leading consulting companies in the UK, you notice I didn't say compliance, RWA, in my opinion, will by then be much more than 'just' a compliance company.

 

About the author

Tom is a Director at RWA. He has built a team of professionals that continue to deliver outstanding service and develop innovative solutions for our clients. Passionate about change and developing sustainable futures, Tom is a transformational leader who was a winner at the Leading Wales Awards in 2014 and in the same year received a Distinction from Cardiff Metropolitan University for his Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership. As well as his work leading the RWA team, Tom continues to work in the local Welsh community helping business start-ups, charities and enterprise facilitation initiatives.

Tom Wood

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