During the last fifteen years the insurance broking industry has seen major changes. Across the country local independent brokers have, sadly, sold out to large corporate businesses. Gina Dixon reflects on the changing world of insurance.
During the last fifteen years the insurance broking industry has seen major changes. Across the country local independent brokers have, sadly, sold out to large corporate businesses. Gina Dixon reflects on the changing world of insurance. These changes have altered the landscape of the insurance industry across the UK and South Wales has not been immune. As a result, the region has very few Independent Brokers left and this has left a real gap in many communities.
Thankfully there are, as always, a few exceptions to the rule – one of these being Watkin Davies Insurance Consultants in Cardiff.
We were eager to catch up with the Managing Director, Gina Dixon, to find out the reasons for remaining independent and the challenges they face when competing with the corporate world and online brokers.
Why do you want to stay independent when a lot of your competition have decided to merge and consolidate?
Most of the independents that have sold their businesses have mainly done so for two reasons: succession planning is one and the opportunity to retire with generous cash deals. Secondly, regulation. This has been seen by many as a burden for many independents.
Neither of these apply to Watkin Davies, we have a succession plan in place, seeing the next generation coming through, and regulation has been good for the broking world. It has made us far more professional and, in the main, most of it is good business practice.
What are the advantages of being an independent broker?
We believe that “big isn’t always beautiful”. By remaining independent we are able to make quick decisions and implement changes within the business in order to respond rapidly to developments within the insurance industry market.
Our drivers are also very different to the big corporate brokers. The business is owned by Roger Watkins and not by corporate investors, at the moment corporate investment is coming in from the USA and, quite rightly, they want an immediate return on their investment.
Roger Watkins strategy is long-term. For over forty-two years he has built this business on customer service. Then simple ethos that if you look after customers with respect and integrity, they will look after us. Whilst of course we want to make a profit, this is not our primary focus.
This long-term strategy is a proven one – our retention on new and existing clients is extremely high. We provide a great service and so clients reward us with their loyalty.
What are your plans to grow?
I love growing our business organically, this is an excellent measure of your business, it proves our capability. We will continue to grow propositions that our clients will benefit from and attract new clients.
We cannot grow our business without good quality staff. We have a great team and are all committed to the cause. All employees of Watkin Davies have to be right for us and, equally important, we have to be right for them. Experience tells us when you get this right, the business develops itself.
We are very interested in acquiring small businesses, again the culture and the fit has to be right for us both. We opened an office in Newport city centre and recently acquired Quentin L Jones Insurance Services and now have a presence in Ystrad Mynach. Newport and the valleys have great communities so we feel they’re a good fit.
Are your clients just in South Wales?
Whilst our focus is in South Wales are clients are spread across the country. We can service clients anywhere in the UK.
Can you really compete with the “big boys”?
We can, and we do. It is a great time to be an independent insurance broker. Corporate businesses are constantly going through change, as a result they take their eye of the ball and staff and clients become disgruntled. We are able to offer staff and our clients security, the constant change in a business is not good for either.
We have various links within insurance networks, coupled with long-standing relationships that provide us with the competitive contracts that we need. Our skill set allows us to compete at all levels. Our clients range from sole traders and small businesses to large corporate operations. We pride the same level of excellent service to every client regardless of size. Today’s sole trader can be tomorrows giant corporation. As we’ve seen, anything is possible.
So how do you see the future?
Consistency is important. Keep doing what we do best but constantly evaluate. Invest in our people, continue to build our team, attract new clients and look for the right opportunities they are out there, and it is exciting. Life is good in Watkin Davies but we take nothing for granted – especially clients.
Watkin Davies Insurance Consultants
15 Penlline Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 2AA
029 2062 6226
Watkin Davies Insurance (Newport)
1-5 High St, Newport, NP20 1FQ
Also in Ystrad Mynach
Quentin L Jones Insurance Services
22 Penallta Road, Ystrad Mynach, CF82 7AP