Lee Refault's views on the evolution of the insurance industry over the last 25 years
Group business development director Lee Refault is marking his 25th anniversary with Rossborough in November. He explains how the insurance industry has evolved over this time and how professionalism in the industry has significantly grown.
There have been so many changes to the insurance industry over the past 25 years and it has been a fascinating world to work in and watch the company evolve.
The implementation of technology has transformed working life from a time when memos were written by hand using carbon paper - we used underwriting guides the size of a small phonebook to manually calculate premiums - to today’s paperless office, with electronic trading and applications to track risk features such as flood mapping.
When I joined Rossborough it was a privately-owned business. I had a fantastic relationship with the owners who believed in me and backed me through my early career. In 2014 we were sold to Gallagher, a really significant global insurance broker. Initially this was daunting but the extra reach and access to risk management and specialist insurance expertise that comes with being part of Gallagher has enabled us to transform what we can offer to clients.
In the old days it was all about who you know. Nowadays the levels of professionalism required to thrive are far higher as well as needing good people skills. One without the other is not enough.
The level of professionalism has certainly increased as brokers are being held to a higher standard. When I joined the industry there were plenty of great characters in the market who were grandfathered accreditations, but now young entrants into the industry are putting in the hard yards and getting professionally qualified.
There has been a lot of consolidation of insurers in the local market. When I started there were over ten major insurers with offices in Jersey. Now many of these insurers have themselves been absorbed through consolidation and the local offices closed with the Islands being largely serviced from the UK. Nowadays we need to invest significant time educating UK based insurers about the nuances of trading in the islands.
There may have been significant and positive changes in the past 25 years, but Rossborough has remained committed to offering clients the highest levels of service. It is still largely a people business and the quality of the relationships you have both with clients and within the insurance industry is what makes your success and makes it fun. People skills are so important in this business. A computer will never replace a warm smile.
Lee’s top three career highlights
- Seeing staff move on to bigger and better things. It’s been great seeing team members pass their own professional qualifications, develop as practitioners and then move onto other areas of the business as their own careers have developed.
- Working with some brilliant clients. There is nothing better than helping a business get back on its feet after a misfortune and to play a part in the recovery, building fabulous relationships with some great people in the process.
3) In 2009 few staff were taking professional exams but as a business we wanted to encourage more colleagues on to the path to qualification. I decided to tutor three groups of staff during lunch breaks towards the three papers required to achieve the Insurance Foundation Certificate. Over the next 18 months most employees passed with many going on to achieve more advanced qualifications such as the Diploma and Advanced Diploma. The exam passes were great but what pleased me personally was that from then on, it became the norm to take on professional qualifications, with a touch of friendly competition between staff.