Introducing Jamie Brooks, Business Development Manager for East Anglia

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Over the past few years we’ve made a big investment in expanding our UK regional presence, bringing us closer to our broker partners and helping us forge stronger, more profitable relationships. We recently sat down with our new business development manager, Jamie Brooks, to learn more about how ERS is growing and reaching new brokers across East Anglia…

What’s your background and what made you want to join ERS?

I’ve spent more than a decade working in home and motor insurance business development across the East Anglia region, so I already have good relationships with many of the motor insurance brokers out here.

However, in my former role I was catering for standard everyday motoring, which can be quite a commoditised area. What appealed to me about ERS was the chance to expand the conversation and showcase a wider product footprint to brokers, as well as getting to know a whole raft of new specialist brokers in my region.

You’re also a big auto enthusiast, aren’t you?

Absolutely – I love classic cars, I’m a massive motorsports fan, and I’m always visiting auto events and trade shows, which is also a great way to spend time with brokers. Sometimes I even get to exhibit my Subaru Impreza P1 on their stands!

How do you go about planning a typical week?

I’m based in Felixstowe in Suffolk, which is about as far out on the East coast as you can get, so I tend to choose a geographic area of East Anglia each day – from Ipswich right down to St Albans – and journey out to meet as many brokers as I can in that area.

It’s very much a roving brief, but I keep in close contact with our wider team through regular calls and monthly meetings down in London.

What are the major trends you’re seeing in our industry right now?

Aggregators continue to dominate mainstream motor insurance, which is why it’s important for broker-only insurers such as ourselves to specialise and look for areas we can add value. I’m also seeing an awful lot of acquisitions, both among brokers and insurers. I’ve met some brokers that acquired as many as five businesses in the past 12 months and are planning a similar level of acquisitions for next year. It’s a great way for the bigger brokers to diversify their offering.

Of course, for some customers there’s a risk that this could lead to less choice, but in my experience, there’s almost always an entrepreneur that emerges from an acquisition and decides to set up their own brokerage with a differentiated approach or specialism.

Describe some of the challenges you envisage in your new role.

One of the perennial challenges is competitors entering the market with flash-in-the-pan products or offers. They may scoop up some of the market by offering a cut-price rate, but these products typically disappear pretty quickly once the provider realises that it’s unsustainable, which means everyone ends up losing out.

Most brokers are savvy to these tactics, but it’s always a challenge when they’re put under pressure by price-sensitive customers. Ultimately, at ERS we won’t chase any business that we don’t believe is sustainable. It also provides confidence to know that all ERS policies are A+ rated by Lloyd’s, meaning our products can be trusted and come with less risk.

Is there anything that still surprises you about the industry?

The pace of change is mind-boggling. On a day-to-day basis you don’t always feel like the industry is moving quickly, but it’s actually amazing how fast changes are occurring as technology continues to transform our industry.

In home insurance, for example, today products are being delivered and claims processed via FaceTime, something that was unheard of a few years ago. At ERS we’re also embracing technology to process claims and authorise payments far quickly than would ever have been previously possible. It’s exciting to think about what might come next.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your career to date?

Relationships are utterly key to doing the job well. However much technology there is, brokers still value personal relationships and will still look to place their business based on the trust and respect that’s held within these relationships.

What is it that makes ERS stand out in the market?

Being a motor-only, broker-only insurer is a real point of differentiation, while our specialisms also help us to stand out from the crowd. We employ true experts in each specialism and this shines through when we’re dealing with brokers. For example, I already knew ERS’s modified vehicles specialist underwriter, Alan Bradbury, before I joined as we kept bumping into each other at niche car shows!

Right now, we’re doing ‘lunch and learn’ sessions for brokers that are interested in moving into a new product area or need to train their teams on our product appetites. We’ll take our team out to the broker and give them absolutely all of the info they need to know. We’re really hands-on, and this definitely sets us apart.

What’s the biggest opportunity for ERS in East Anglia over the next 12 months?

With almost 40 different motor products, there’s a wealth of opportunity out there for us. Norfolk and Suffolk are both quite rural and so agriculture is a potential growth area, but there’s significant demand for our fleet, haulage, taxi and specialist commercial vehicles product across the whole region. It’s about identifying the right products and opportunities for the right brokers.

What are your passions and pastimes outside of working hours?

My wife, Vanessa, and two young boys, Finn and Ellis, are fortunate to live just a quarter of a mile from the sea, so in the summer we love spending our weekends at the beach.

Right now though, a lot of my spare time is taken up with football training with the kids. I’m a big football fan and have followed Nottingham Forest through thick and thin. In contrast, my boys will opt for whoever is at the top of the Premier League. It’s hard to convince a fickle five-year-old to support Forest.

If you weren’t in the motor insurance business, what would your dream job be?

It would definitely be something motor-related. In the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to drive on track for the first time ever – at both Nürburgring and Silverstone. The buzz and thrill was incredible, so perhaps I’d be a veteran racer… a 40-year-old newbie!

If you have a specialist motor quote in the East Anglia area or you just want to say Hello – contact Jamie on 07717 545 747 or jamie.brooks@ers.com

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