​Introducing Pauline Palmer, Regional Business Development Manager for Midlands

Pauline Orig Blog

Building stronger broker relationships doesn’t just happen online or over the phone. It requires us to get out there and meet our brokers, wherever they’re based in the UK. We’re continuing to expand our presence by recruiting regional development managers who can bring many years’ region-specific expertise to the table, and we recently sat down with our new recruit, Pauline Palmer, to learn more about her Midlands remit and her priorities for the year ahead.

Tell us about your background and the journey that led you to ERS.

I think a lot of insurance professionals stumble upon the trade by accident and then discover that they love it. I was one of those!

I started in the industry in 1987, working in personal lines motor insurance back when everything was still done manually without computers. We were required to know an awful lot about the cars we were insuring, and when a car pulled up outside our offices, we could take one look at it and instantly tell which underwriting guide to reach for to offer the best price.

I’ve held a variety of broker and insurance roles over the past three decades, and have always had a real affinity for cars. So I was thrilled at the opportunity to join ERS, where every day you’re covering non-standard autos – from insuring the most complex risks to the weird and the wonderful motors. It’s a much broader product set than any other business I’ve worked at, so I can’t wait to get stuck in and expand my knowledge.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

I’m based in Shropshire and my focus is on the Midlands region. It’s not a vast geographic area but it is a diverse mix of urban and rural environments, as well as having a very high concentration of brokers. My job is to expand on our existing broker relationships and forge new partnerships, making sure more brokers are aware of the full ERS product range and the added value we bring as a specialist insurer.

I’m part of a wider team, but day-to-day I work autonomously, which requires a lot of discipline and organisation. I have to plan my time carefully: who I’m going to meet and where, and how I can cover as much ground as possible while giving each broker the service they deserve. It’s fair to say that I love being exceptionally busy!

Tell us about some of the major trends you’re seeing in the industry, your region, or with customers right now?

In the mainstream motor arena, it’s very much a price-driven market – this was the case even when I left the broking industry 15 years ago. As a consequence, the internet tends to be first choice for drivers, but when they’re trying to find an ideal price for a stretched purse, they always run the risk of ending up without adequate insurance.

Brokers have had to adapt to this environment and many of them are now acquiring others or evolving their models to avoid being left behind. Of course, in my experience the aggregator model comes unstuck when customers go off-script and start making bespoke requests, so I definitely see a big opportunity for brokers that can support customers with non-standard and niche requests.

What are the biggest challenges in this role?

It’s important that I take the time to profile the region in the right way. I have many existing broker relationships and I can’t wait to have conversations with them about the full range of ERS’s offering, but there are also brokers out there that I don’t know, and so my challenge will taking the time to understand their specific needs. I live in rural Shropshire but I’m a stone’s throw from the centre of Birmingham, so catering for such a diverse client base requires careful planning.

Is there anything that still surprises you about the industry?

I’ve spent such a long time in the industry and nothing ever surprises me anymore, but that’s largely because I always keep an open mind. I think this is really important given how quickly the automotive industry continues to change. Right now Brexit is having an impact, climate change is having an impact – it pays to assume that there will always be new challenges around the corner, even if you don’t know what they are yet.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt along the way?

To remain professional at all times, with the utmost integrity and honesty.

Trust is key – if you say you’re going to do something, you need to do it. We’re working in an incredibly fast-paced environment; brokers need to know that you’re going to deliver, and they’ll always come back if you do.

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

The ERS brand is exceptionally strong, and that’s because it’s underpinned by a team of highly engaged professionals. I think insurers can become a bit complacent when their teams are literally doing the same thing each and every day. When it’s as diverse as the ERS offering, it keeps everyone interested and up for the challenge.

What’s the biggest opportunity for ERS in the year ahead?

I see plenty of opportunities around the newer, more environmentally efficient vehicles that are coming to market at pace. We need to make sure that brokers understand these and how they differ, from an insurance perspective, from what’s gone before.

Electric vehicles will, in time, be a big opportunity, especially with Government incentives behind them. Some brokers will doubtless go electric-only – it’s important we have our finger on the pulse of these trends.

What are your passions and pastimes outside of working hours?

Between work and my family there’s not always lot of downtime! My son is signed to Shrewsbury Town FC so I’m tasked with making sure he attends training and matches. I’ve grown to love football and couldn’t imagine my Sundays not being spent at the side of a muddy pitch in the pouring rain. Also, having a teenager that loves to shop is a luxury I occasionally share (if she lets me!).

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

My dream job would be working in care, perhaps helping underprivileged children. One day I hope to be able to spend more time volunteering and making a difference within the care industry.

If you have a specialist motor quote in the Midlands area, contact Pauline on 07866 139 136 or email pauline.palmer@ers.com

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