The Pukka Insure founder talks culture, diversity and trebling business volumes in just 12 months
Matt Scott: It’s been two years since you launched Pukka Insure. How would you describe those first few months?
Sam White: The first two years of business have been really good. We trebled the business last year, which was phenomenal. We had the usual challenges you get with that level of growth, but we have brought onboard a lot of new people with experience who have been there, done it and got the t-shirt.
Getting the right people with the right experience is everything, but my idea of the right people is probably a lot different to other people’s idea of the right people. Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic, and my idea of diversity is hiring the right person for the job – it doesn’t matter where you are from, your sexuality or gender, just whether you are the right person for that job.
You have to have the competencies for the role, but also fit in with the culture we have here, and that is quite a different culture to the rest of insurance.
MS: And how would you describe Pukka’s culture? What makes you different from other MGAs?
SW: I believe in people bringing their whole selves to work, and we have quite a family feel to the business. People can be open and honest here, and I believe that you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is, so you can’t solve a problem if people are too scared to admit what that problem is.
Sometimes our culture can be quite loud and noisy because everyone has an opinion, but I would much rather have that than the alternative. I have been in meetings in the past where everyone is scared to talk, even if everyone in the room has the same view of the situation.
I don’t understand why people are scared to admit when things haven’t worked out the way they wanted them to. We made tons of mistakes in our first year, the important thing is we recognised what those mistakes were and we fixed them.
The problem with a lot of businesses is that once they get to a point of mediocrity they spend their entire time looking at maintaining the status quo rather than saying: “Is the right thing or is this just what got us reasonable results?”.
MS: From the start, Pukka has been about much more than just targeting reasonable results. How have you gone about achieving your ambitious growth targets?
SW: Getting the growth is not the hardest part, but that level of growth comes with a level of output and it is more about making sure the processes that sit behind that are robust as they can be, so I brought in process experts from outside of insurance to compliment my insurance people and integrate their mindsets into the claims process.
All of motor in the UK is brutal, but we identified commercial vehicle as the safest entry point, and I think we have been right with that.
We are now due to go live with private car this year, which is something I’ve been trying to do for a long time, so it is good to be getting to the end of that.
Fundamentally, you are still writing policies and managing claims, but the private car market is a lot more competitive than commercial vehicle, so you need to make sure you are fully tooled up, and we have put a number of things in place to make sure we don’t get hurt in that market.
The opportunity is great, the size of the market is so much bigger so it gives me an opportunity to go for our growth ambition plans.