Introducing Ian Smedley, our Regional Development Manager for the South East

Ian Smedley Blog

At ERS we’re proudly broker-focused, and that means serving the needs of brokers wherever they’re based in the UK. To that end, we have a team of regional motor insurance experts throughout the country, making sure we give our brokers the face-to-face support they need. We recently caught up with one of the team, Ian Smedley, to hear about the latest from the Kent, Sussex, London and Essex market…

Tell us about your role as RDM at ERS?

Every day is different for me, as I’m responsible for 170 brokers in Kent, Sussex, south and south east London, east London and south Essex, as well as a number of national accounts. I technically work from home, but am actually out ‘on the road’, enjoying meeting brokers at their offices throughout the week.

I’ve worked at ERS since 2006 when I joined as Agency Manager, so that helps me deal with the complexities of agency changes in the panel of brokers. As well as the experience I’ve gained in sales here at ERS, I am also building on my previous roles with Allianz and Commercial Union. Yes, I’m that old!

What differentiates your South East market from elsewhere in the UK?

The brokers ‘south of the river’ are mostly local or regional brokers, with a few specialists and branches of national brokers. I wouldn’t say the region as a whole is significantly different in nature to others, but being close to London, brokers tend to have closer and more personal relationships with London-based insurers, so ERS is well placed to meet this demand.

I believe we deal with nearly all the brokers who require specialist motor insurance in the region, but I am always very happy to hear from brokers we don’t trade with.

Tell us about some of the major trends you’re seeing at the moment?

There is a new wave of acquisition and consolidation underway, as in all areas of the country. This is being led by major players but smaller brokers are also looking to acquire as part of their business plans. When an ERS-supporting broker buys brokers who haven’t dealt with us, there are often opportunities for us to grow.

What’s more, brokers are now fully accepting of the need to use e-trading platforms for smaller risks, and we have developed our eTrade facility for them. I can see this trend continuing to grow, but we’re also very willing to provide brokers with manually underwritten solutions rather than letting ‘the computer say yes or no’!

What are the biggest challenges in this role?

For me in my region….time! I want to ensure that my 170 brokers are properly supported, so I spend most of my time travelling and need to keep my energy levels up! Certainly the smaller brokers comment that they never see any insurers anymore, so I’m proud to ensure they get that personal service from ERS.

Is there anything that still surprises you about the industry?

The industry has destroyed so much value by spending the last 30 years teaching customers to buy on price rather than supplying the insurance they need. And it leads to other factors for example, the rise of unrated insurance capacity. Why do we put up with insurers who may or may not be around in a year’s time, and may or may not pay your claim? This negatively impacts the broker’s reputation and of course, it’s the customer that may lose their premium

What is it that makes ERS stand out in the market? What made you join us?

I joined ERS as I could see we were a dynamic smaller business than my previous employer. When we decide that something’s the right thing to do, we don’t let ourselves get bound up in red tape, we get on and do it.

ERS stands out as we follow a completely different business model to nearly all of the rest of the market, with specialist business being our focus rather than ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’. Of the other specialists, no one else has the backing of Lloyd’s, an A+ credit rating, and the depth of knowledge and experience we have. The brokers who really understand the benefits of that, can drive great results through their business.

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

We focus on specialist motor insurance and this specialist expertise is a real benefit for brokers. Ultimately, we provide their customers with the nuanced cover that those composite giants can never match. We will never chase volume with poor pricing and underwriting, or be tempted to try to be ‘all things to all men’.

What would you say is the single biggest attribute or competency brokers look for in a motor insurer?

The brokers who get the most out of ERS are looking for underwriting skill – the ability to see a risk for what it really is and set the right rate and terms, and trade vigorously to take on the right risks. Some brokers just want the cheapest price and yes/no answers; increasingly, that’s not where ERS plays.

What are your passions and pastimes outside of working hours?

I am trying as hard as I can to learn photography at the moment, which offsets the misery of being a Notts County fan!

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

I would love to be a radio presenter on a national radio station.

If you have a specialist motor quote in the South East area, contact Ian on 07825 064 081 or email ian.smedley@ers.com

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