An interview with RWA Business Manager, Carol Jenkins

At RWA we put a lot of emphasis on being at the forefront of support for the insurance broking industry and with change happening at such a fast pace, we are ourselves investing in digital transformation to ensure that we continue to provide relevant support services to our clients into the future. I was therefore pleased to sit down with Business Manager, Carol Jenkins, to discuss her own experience and positive views on where the industry was heading.

Hi Carol, can you start by introducing yourself, your role and your background in the industry?

My name is Carol Jenkins.  I am an Associate of The Chartered Insurance Institute and a Chartered Insurance Risk Manager.  Before joining RWA, I had worked in the insurance industry for over 25 years, initially gaining experience with a range of composite Insurers (underwriting and claims) and I then moved into loss adjusting.  Within that arena I gained considerable experience investigating, reporting upon and negotiating a wide range of claim types e.g. household, commercial, contractors and EL/PL throughout the UK.  I moved into a Broking role around 4 years ago and was employed by a Top 100 Broker as a Commercial Account Executive; this involved new business development and running a book of existing clients.  I was also involved with compliance projects including processes and reviews around the implementation and effect of CIDRA and The Insurance Act. I subsequently joined RWA around 12 months ago as a Business Manager within the insurance compliance team.  I am based in Bournemouth and assist a range of firms along the South Coast/Devon, around the M25 and into the City.  

Your experience highlights the wide-ranging skills and knowledge that we have within RWA. As someone who has worked across many disciplines, can you give any insight into how the industry has changed since you started?

The industry has changed considerably - when I started (and I am going to give away my age here!) I recall records being held on microfiche, claims cheques being written/signed by hand and vast volumes of paper with a high dependence on faxes.  A real person answered a switchboard and connected callers!  Compare that to now - so much information is held and can be sourced via the internet, transactions at the touch of a button, paperless environments, automated systems and the like.  However, whilst processes are streamlined, insurance is still a people business.  In my view, and since the introduction of recent legislation etc, there is probably much more emphasis now on getting the detail right from day one to ensure the customer journey is a smooth one and that the products they purchase are correct and will always work for them when they need it to.

The people side of insurance broking is very important. RWA bases a lot of our focus on building relationships and broking is very similar. You’ve highlighted a lot of change that has already taken place, what about change that is coming – where do you see the industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

Advances in technology are of course the obvious areas - this has developed so much even over the last 5 years!  I foresee even more robust accountability over data and ensuring it is kept safe and used properly.  The implementation of GDPR is just the start - the UK and its financial services industry will want to be “the go-to place" for data being safe.  Data is of course already used to influence, e.g. underwriting decisions, but as technology develops and needs change, the industry will need to become more focused on identifying and providing solutions for areas where currently we can't even contemplate where different ranges of cover are needed (and I am not just thinking about driver-less vehicles!).  The influence of social media will become even more paramount to a customer’s view of the businesses they trust, not only in terms of providing a policy, seamless and fast service, but all will be educated to know that a business which does not look after their customers’ data is to be avoided at all cost.  The emphasis on appropriate systems and controls to incorporate all of this will, therefore, be crucial.  This ties in with TCF and whilst there is, of course, a huge emphasis on this now, I am sure that with the continued expansion of the use of social media to voice opinion, those companies who do not appreciate how a glitch or poor customer service experience can be catastrophic to a business, will learn at their peril.  Indeed, thinking about TSB's recent experience of how "not to" may be a reference point for many years to come.  It would be remiss of me not to mention the effect of technology on the footprint that the industry leaves on the environment as well.  There will be more emphasis on a business' attitude to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  Those who quickly recognise and can deliver a premier, interactive service by hosting remote meetings, and incorporating a virtual face to face experience will tick that box, not just in terms of customer expectations and experience, but relationships will be developed further afield than they are now - surely a plus point for any successful future business.

Do you think insurance brokers are ready for the upcoming changes and where can RWA help?

In my view, most Brokers are NOT ready.  In some cases, they have not even considered the range and scope of changes which will affect their business and processes/procedures.  For most, it is a time and resource pressure (however please remember that the regulator expects a firm to be able to resource these areas at all times). I hear this from so many firms of differing sizes and often they had not realised there is additional help available via RWA. 

Historically, RWA has been seen as only offering assistance with compliance matters, however, that is not the case.  The clients that I advise are so pleased and relieved to know that RWA's team can help with many other areas such as bespoke HR solutions, Training and Competence options, Regulatory Business and Succession Planning, together with high-level GDPR Gap Analysis.  In addition, these clients are often unaware that there is a lot more to the Aviva Development Zone than they realise, including a Compliance Support area which holds a vast array of regulatory templates, many training modules, an area to record CPD (which will serve to be invaluable once the minimum 15 hour CPD requirement under The Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) and The Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMCR) become effective) and the ability to upload a firms own/external training courses.  In addition to the above, RWA can also assist with updating regulatory documents (often remotely), file auditing and bespoke compliance solutions e.g. provide a designated compliance manager who can attend monthly to review a firm's regulatory matters.

What do you think are the opportunities for young people coming into the industry and do you think there are more opportunities for women within insurance?

Historically, insurance has been seen as dare I say it, one of the least dynamic career options!  However, with the kudos of being able to achieve recognition as a qualified professional within an evolving and successful global industry, this attitude is rapidly changing.  In addition to this, the combination of human interaction and technology involved in identifying fraud seems to attract considerable interest.  Similarly, the monitoring and development of social media and interaction with the public attract interest. My daughter and her university peers who all studied PR/Media are keen to explore various options associated with working in the financial sector, as they realise there is an interesting mix of career options where their knowledge and skills can be utilised, which perhaps even a decade or so ago would not have been relevant.  In terms of women in the industry, there are considerable numbers already and whilst many have traditionally been employed in administration type roles, with the onset of technology it is likely that both they and their male counterparts will seek to move into the range of roles now being created owing to advances in this area.

It sounds like the industry has a lot more change to come, but it is also extremely positive and encouraging that it continues to evolve with that change. Thanks, Carol.

About the author

Tom has worked at RWA for over 12 years, starting as Operations Manager before taking on roles as Operations Director, CEO and most recently as Director leading the company into the digital age.

Before joining RWA, he was involved in helping develop the operations of one of Wales’ fastest growing utility consultancies as well as leading the Key Accounts team of a major commercial energy supplier.

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