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Industry Insights: Owner of Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers, James Woollam

by Heat Recruitment


James is Managing Director and owner of Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers.  James won the Bristol Post Young Business Person of the Year award in 2016, and is actively involved with the local business community.

Hi James, tell us a bit more about your business!

Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers is an independent insurance broker and risk management advisor and has been serving its clients for over 50 years.  It has sector specific expertise in areas as diverse as education, marine and property whilst also focussing on the needs of independent businesses and not for profit organisations in the wider Bristol region.  Hayes Parsons believes it sets itself apart with its risk management lead approach, and determination to stay independent with a training regime which recently won it the small company of the year award at the Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle apprenticeship awards.

What have been the biggest changes in insurance over the last year?

Several challenges have presented themselves at the same time, from increasing regulation, consolidation of competitors, the increase of online companies for SME insurance and a doubling in the tax rate for insurance in the last two years.  Whilst this leads to challenges, it also makes what we do all the more important for our clients.

With training, qualifications and CPD options always evolving, what do you think is the most important thing potential candidates can do to develop themselves?

Experience is a real differentiator when it comes to recruitment, and not just in the trade in which the application is being made.  Travelling, charity events and work experience all provide soft skills that all employers are looking for, and can help build confidence too when presenting yourself at interview.  Qualifications are important, but having a broad range of skills on show can really help as a differentiator, but at every interview the most important factor I am looking for beyond everything else is for the candidate to have the right attitude.

What would you like to see more of in the applications that you receive?

Applications often look very similar, and it then becomes difficult to see the person behind the CV.  I would like to understand more of the person behind the qualifications and experience, and what makes them the person they are.

Recent reports have shown that it’s getting increasingly hard to recruit, due to the political uncertainty still surrounding Brexit, do you feel this is affecting your business, or the wider sector?

We have seen an increasing difficulty in recruiting in the South West, but this was prevalent long before Brexit.  A mixture of higher employment levels generally and a lack of skills in some of the candidates available has made it hard to recruit, and has lead to us launching our award winning apprenticeship programme to teach the skills we require for the next generation.

What do you find is the most common misconception about working in your sector?

Insurance is often seen as boring.  But for us no two days are the same.  We often find ourselves visiting clients all over the country, being asked about issues that have never been considered before.  Almost half of all businesses collapse after a major fire, and that shows how important insurance is to businesses, particularly start-ups.  Getting claims paid for clients, quickly and efficiently, provides enormous satisfaction.  The insurance industry is also leading the way against cyber crime, both in the risk management and insurance protection fields.

What do you feel are going to be the biggest challenges facing your sector in the next few years?

Our largest challenge is to work through the digitisation of insurance without losing the human element to what we do.  Every company and individual is different, and we are currently able to bespoke every policy to the needs of the client, and be there immediately when things go wrong.  We need to harness technology to make our service more efficient and cost effective, without losing what makes us a good broker in the first place – our people.

What are likely to be the most exciting developments within your Industry in the next 5 years?

The most exciting development is also our biggest challenge.  Insurance is now embracing Big Data and technology to bring bespoke products quickly to the market which help people to take risk and be protected from the unknown.  UK insurance can lead the way in FinTech and really disrupt traditional ways of buying and selling insurance, and it is my job to ensure Hayes Parsons is at the forefront of these changes.

Find out more about our Insurance Jobs here

Tom Webster is one of our Senior Recruitment Consultants specialising in Insurance. Connect with him on LinkedIn here or call to have a chat on 0117 922 1771