Graham Brown, managing director of Pavey Group, has worked over 30 years in the insurance industry, combining it with his love of rugby and cycling
Q How did you come to join Pavey Group?
A In 2003 I was approached by Michael Pavey to assist him with the companies succession planning. At the time I was a local director of a large international broker, Marsh. During my time at Marsh I had competed against Mike on a number of significant cases we were both trying to win, we always saw each other as healthy competition and over the years developed a professional relationship.
I initially discussed the opportunities for growing the brokerage with Mike and his co-directors. Their commitment to focus on the customer came through strongly along with their long term vision to develop the business. This gave me all the confidence I needed to join Michael Pavey Ltd as a director.
Q What was the company like then?
A At the time of joining the business, the office footprint was very different. There were offices in Torquay, Totnes and Teignmouth. Nick Sanders, director here at Pavey Group had just merged his business into Michael Pavey Ltd operating from the Teignmouth office. In 2003 we employed 27 staff and managed £6million of insurance premiums. The company offered independent insurance and financial services solutions to its customers, whether they were looking for advice and quotations for their business or personal needs. I’m pleased to say that this is the case today and will continue to be the case in the future.
Q What have been the company’s greatest achievements?
A Michael Pavey and Malcolm Swift, managing director of Pavey Group Financial Services were instrumental in founding Westinsure, which became one of the leading independent networks in the United Kingdom.
We are proud to be associated with many of the leading businesses in the South West and act for one of the UK’s largest charities, The National Trust, providing claims administration and underwriting support on all insurance matters.
In 2005, I was able to bring 12 of my former colleagues from Marsh in Exeter into the business along with local broker Paul Smale which, with The National Trust account, founded our Exeter office. Fusing the two cultures of Michael Pavey and Marsh (or Martians as we are affectionately known!) has helped create the business we now are.
The growth we have achieved over the last ten years has seen the general insurance side of the business triple in size and our financial services division doubled, we now employ 84 staff across two office locations, Torquay and Exeter. In 2011 we took the tough decision to merge our Teignmouth and Totnes offices into Torquay and relocated both offices to bigger premises where we had the potential for further expansion.
Q What are the company’s aims for 2014/2015?
A We have ambitious growth plans for the next 12 months and beyond, we are currently looking at a number of potential acquisitions. We are listed as a Top 100 Independent Broker in the UK and will continue to push our way further ahead, as a leading insurance broker and financial services firm in the South West.
Q What is the company working on now?
A February 24 saw the launch of an insurance offering for customers of Mole Valley Farmer Ltd called “Mole Insurance Services. This project has been a two year development, involving a new website, a new brand and a new customer journey bringing nine insurance products to farmers and rural dwellers.
The project has involved all aspects of the business from our insurance advisers, to marketing, compliance and IT. It’s been a massive team effort and early signs are very encouraging.
In financial services, Malcolm and his team are busy advising companies on their responsibilities, staging dates and options for Workplace Pensions.
QWho has been your most significant mentor?
AI’ve been lucky enough throughout my career, to work with many talented individuals within the industry and with clients who have had a great influence on me; but it is hard to beat the sage advice of your parents to treat people as you would like to be treated and you won’t go too far wrong, whether it is customers or employees.
Q What major challenges have you faced?
A We operate in a very competitive market and whilst it is essential we have a good relationship with our customers, it is also important we deliver competitive solutions. In order to achieve this we must work hard to develop strong relationships with our insurer suppliers. The growth and reputation of Pavey Group means we now have access to key decision maker’s at the most senior levels with all major insurers.
Q How would you describe your management style?
A Not known for my hair drying talks, so more Brendan Rogers than Sir Alex Ferguson! Consultative but I do expect results to be delivered.
Q How do you keep enthused and keep things fresh?
A Although the insurance industry appears to lack excitement; there are very few professions that allow you an insight into all sectors, as an insurance broker we must understand each of our clients businesses, the risks they may face and ensure that they are adequately protected. This goes beyond an insurance policy, it’s about risk management advice, proactive claims handling and having a broad understanding of both the legal and financial implications.
I am a member of the Insurance Institute of Exeter, which is there to promote professional standards within the industry. As a firm we are working towards achieving Chartered Status. The industry is far better policed now by the FCA and we need to work with them to drive professional standards even higher. Interestingly the most recent miss-selling scandals have little or nothing to do with the broker market, principally other financial institutions.
Q What awards have you won?
A In 2009 Pavey Group was voted ‘Independent Insurance Broker of the Year’ by the Insurance Times. We were delighted to have heard last week that our claims manager, Jan Newman, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the ‘Outstanding Broker Claims Individual of The year’ category by the Insurance Times at the Claims Excellence Awards being held in London, this month (May.
In 2012 Michele Parker, director of financial services ,came runner-up at the prestigious Financial Adviser of the Year Awards, and most recently Lauren White, account handler in our Torquay office, was recognised as ‘Young Professional of the Year’ by the Exeter Insurance Institute.