Introducing Nicky Mitchell, Renewals Manager at Miles Smith. Today, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Nicky to talk about his experience in the industry.
Hi Nicky, thank you for taking the time out to chat with us today. Could you give us a brief overview of your role?
Absolutely! I am a Renewals Manager for Miles Smith. I have worked here for over five years and have been in several teams, so I've gained a lot of experience of different classes and trades.
With the help of Hayley Jennings and Dave Allen, I manage a team of 25. I also lead the renewals process for some of our large corporate accounts.
Could you elaborate on the accounts you look after? Are they a broad range of clients or always specific themes? What is it like to manage the larger corporate accounts?
The accounts I work on tend to be Property risks which are large and complex in nature, often requiring several markets, due to the limits required. Since my role has developed, I only deal with about five accounts per month because of managerial responsibilities.
If you don’t mind going back to the beginning of your journey, how did you get into your role?
When I was in sixth form, I was unsure about what I wanted to do. After a year in college I decided that I’d had enough and did not want to go to university anymore. As a result, I started sending out CVs and a small brokerage company came back to me called Commercial Risks.
I went in for an interview and got the job!
I started off as a telemarketer. Eventually, I progressed to a Junior Account Handler and then moved on from there.
The next step of my career was passing my insurance qualifications. They start off with the Certificate (Cert CII) and once you have passed that you take your Diploma (Dip CII). If you want to progress further, you can take your advanced Diploma (ACII) which I believe is the equivalent to a degree in insurance.
How did you find the time to balance your working life and your studying?
It was challenging! Balancing my work, studying and my personal life became quite difficult, but I knew if I wanted to achieve my goals then I'd have to make sacrifices.
Therefore, I started revising on weekends. I would wake up at around six or seven in the morning, and study until about 1:00pm I worked out a way to enjoy my weekends while also allocating a good amount of time to achieve my goals.
What do you enjoy the most about your role right now, Nicky?
I love that I can have a positive influence on the people in my team and their careers. I also enjoy getting involved with the budget/financial performance of Miles Smith and working closely with the Finance team. The environment here is very fast paced and I work with some great people at Miles Smith and across SRG. I also have managers that are very supportive. It’s a great place to work! My managers Kevin Coomber and Steve Lee are also very supportive and have helped me develop significantly over the past 5 years.
Let’s move onto the next question, and who are the key stakeholders in your role that you deal with on a day-to-day basis?
Apart from employees, agents, and customers, we, SRG are owned by a private equity company called HGCC. But in terms of our key stakeholders, it is the agents that we work with and our SRG colleagues.
Our tagline is 'Difficult. Done Well.' Could you provide an example of this in action that you could share with us today?
We recently placed a complex Property renewal up to a £340M limit. We needed six markets to subscribe, and we worked closely with TUE (who had five of their own markets), to achieve a 100% placement. It was very challenging, and we had a tight deadline, but Lee Baughan our Senior Broker managed to get the capacity and we placed the order. The agent was delighted with our service.
What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement at work is becoming a Chartered Broker. It was a long process and took a lot of commitment and sacrifice, but it was worth it. I’m a mentor for the Insurance Institute of London (Qualification Scheme) and I also completed the SRG HiPo programme for future leaders, which was a great experience and helped me develop substantially.
Outside of work, I’ve won a few Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in the UK and I’ve competed in the European Championship twice in Lisbon.
What trends are you experiencing / observing in the insurance market right now?
When I first started in Insurance back in 2004, everyone was talking about when the next hard market would come after 9/11 and the collapse of The Independent in 2001. I waited 15 years to experience my first hard market in Property & Casualty (P&C) and we’ve been in a hard market for roughly 3-4 years now.
The trend we’re starting to see is a softening in Professional Indemnity (PI) and I believe P&C will follow shortly after. However, inflation’s almost 10% due to COVID, increased business costs and supply issues which has forced clients to increase their sums insured on Property risks to avoid under-insurance. Claims inflation is also an issue for Insurers due to increased costs such as materials and labour.
The economic conditions are interesting as the Bank of England has started increasing interest rates to curb inflation, but without the right balance we could see another recession. It’s notoriously hard to predict cycles, but I think P&C will soften within the next 12 months or so.
If you could go back and speak to a young Nicky Mitchell, what advice would you give them as they start their career in the insurance industry?
Work for a company that values you and recognises you for the hard work that you do. I think in the past I spent longer than I should have at previous companies because I was too comfortable, but I wasn’t happy. I decided to take the risk and move to Miles Smith when I was approached. In hindsight, the real risk would have been not joining. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Thank you for that, Nicky, we have time for a few quick-fire questions!
Who in the Miles Smith team would you want to be stranded on a desert island with?
Hayley Jennings. We work closely together as we have the same role and get on well. I think it’s impossible for Hayley to annoy me, even stuck on a desert island.
Who is the most intelligent person you know?
I don’t know to be honest. There are different types of intelligence. Some people are intelligent academically but that won’t necessarily get you far in business. I think having strong relationships, being keen to take on more responsibility and having leadership skills will get you further. I’m more inspired by people’s success than people’s IQ.
Do you collect anything?
Not now but I do still have some old retro Corinthian football figures from when I was a kid. I also have some old WWF wrestling figures from the 90’s lying about somewhere! Who knows, they might be worth a few quid when I’m old!