Robert Bates, 61, is an Account Executive at Allied Insurance Services and has been with the company since it first launched in 2001. Robert was born in Manchester and moved to Wigan 31 years ago, he is an active member of the community and a big part of the Allied team.
Robert is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII) and a Chartered Insurance Practitioner.
Why did you decide to work in insurance?
My 1st job out of school was in insurance. I hadn’t planned to go into it and just wanted a job as soon as I left school to pay my way in the family. I applied for two jobs, one was working for the NatWest bank and one was for a local insurance company; National Motor Insurance. National Motor Insurance offered me the position and at the age of just 16 I started out in my career, working in insurance.
What does your job entail?
I deal with commercial clients and many of them have been my clients for years. I also actively seek out new business. Once I bring on a new client, that client stays with me and I continue to account manage that client. This is a big difference with Allied Insurance in that the Account Executive that starts working with a new client continues to work with the client and they don’t get passed on. In larger Insurance Brokers, there would be a specific new business team and once a client comes on board they no longer deal with their initial contact and are passed on. I really appreciate that this doesn’t happen here, as do my clients.
What is your typical day?
As an Insurance Broker, there really isn’t a ‘typical’ day. I have such a varied and diverse client base and deal with so many different types of insurance packages, that it keeps my job interesting and every day is different.
Do you have a routine?
No, I really can’t have a set routine, as depending on who needs their insurance renewed on that day, which potential new clients may call up or call in to the office or if I have any pre-arranged meetings I need to attend, this means that any routine would quickly go out the window. So, instead, I approach each day with the same positive attitude and I deal with everything that comes my way in a professional and friendly manner. There is also a seasonality to the job, for example, in September and October four of my largest clients need their insurance policies renewing so this takes up a lot of my time and I’m rarely in the office during this period as I spend a lot of time visiting the clients. A totally different routine to the rest of the year!
Do you have a favourite business sector?
My clients come from a variety of commercial sectors and the size of businesses I look after range from one-man bands through to clients with a multimillion pound turnover and I enjoy working with them all as they all bring with them different challenges and approaches.
I do enjoy working with charities and the social welfare sector as it gives me great job satisfaction to ensure that these worthwhile businesses and causes have the right insurance in place to keep them covered.
My biggest client is the charity Making Spaces and we have worked together for 20 years now. I also work with a secure mental health institution for young offenders and work with the Queens Hall Action on Poverty. Allied insurance Services also work with the Mental Health Providers Forum and we really understand the needs of this sector and how to ensure that they all get the best insurance packages for their businesses.
I would like to work with even more businesses within this sector.
Why should a young person look for a career in insurance?
A career in insurance is varied, it’s never boring and every day is different. I think that as an insurance broker you need to be able to provide the personal touch, so if a young person doesn’t want to spend every day on a computer and wants to interact with people then this could be the career for them. It can also be well paid and there is plenty of scope for career progression and career development, through insurance accreditations and ongoing training opportunities.
What personality traits suit a career in insurance?
To succeed in insurance, you need to have a certain level of business understanding and acumen, as you need to be able to understand a range of businesses and the potential risk within a business. Only when you can understand that can you advise them on the cover they need. This can of course be learnt through training, but if someone already has an interest in business and is personable and adaptable then they should consider a career in insurance.
How do you see the insurance industry changing?
The advances in technology are bringing many changes to the industry and with this ever-changing landscape, there are many new risks. The main ones facing businesses today are the increase of cyber-attacks and unfortunately many businesses are slow to realise that they need to ensure that they are covered against any potential cyber-attacks.
We now have specific cyber insurance and data protection insurance and can provide this cover for businesses, but it’s really a case of raising awareness and ensuring that businesses realise that this is needed and its needed now.
We are also seeing increases in claims arising from employment law issues, employment discrimination and unfair dismissal, where until more recently most employee liability claims would be due to accidents from slips and trips.
How do you think your colleagues would describe you?
I would like to think that my colleague would describe me as reasonably fun, kind hearted and with a young outlook for a 61-year-old!
What do you do on your days off?
I am involved in my local church and sing in the Wigan community choir. I love my sports and enjoy watching cricket, tennis and football and am a huge Manchester United fan and have been since 1963 when I first saw George Best Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton play. I am also a member of Wigan Rotary Club.
My favourite thing to do with my time off though, is to look after our first grandson Noah, who we love to spend as much time with as we can!
What do you like most about Wigan?
I like that Wigan still retains the small town feel although it is a growing borough and every year we see new investment and development coming to the town. The people are friendly and we are fortunate that within a 5-minute drive we can reach beautiful countryside.