Premium Credit’s chief executive Tara Waite reflects on her time at the top against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic 

A “square peg in a square hole” – this was how Tara Waite initially described the job offer as she took helm as chief executive of Premium Credit in the summer of 2019 as it felt like a “natural fit”. 

From her proudest achievement to date – mobilising the business to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic climate, to the firm being reappointed as Biba’s accredited premium finance provider – her time so far has been challenging and “momentous…on so many levels”.

This summer marked her one-year anniversary leading the premium finance provider, now as she approaches almost a year and a half, Waite tells Insurance Times about Premium Credit’s ongoing ambition of becoming the “premium finance and specialist lending partner of choice” and why women should be encouraged to take up senior roles in the industry.

Room for improvement

Waite was appointed to her very first chief executive role at the age of 33.

When asked about her experiences as a female in a senior role in the insurance industry, Waite says: “It makes me feel proud to be one of those few, but it also frustrates me that the situation still needs improvement.”

The insurance industry has historically struggled attracting females into leadership roles.

“No one ever has the complete set of skills for their first chief executive role,” she added, therefore she encourages women to “positively push themselves forward”.

With the right training and opportunities, she continues: “Those of us in senior leadership positions have an obligation to create the right environment for that.”

Bright future

Premium Credit aims to become the “lending partner of choice” and the firm sees the uncertainty of the future economic landscape as an opportunity for itself and its partners.

This is because many businesses could see premium finance as a more manageable way to pay. 

Historically the Surrey-based premium finance provider has focussed on supporting individuals and businesses in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, although it recognises that there are other opportunities further afield.

Waite says: “Back home we want to retain an ongoing position as a market leader and pioneer in the sectors we operate in. We are mindful that our domestic market can be developed further, and we are always available to outline the opportunities open to brokers and insurers.

“The future is bright. If we can make our partners more successful by providing their customers with market leading premium finance and specialist lending solutions, they will deepen the relationship they have with their customers.”

Meanwhile, specialist lending is another important element of its business, which Waite explained remains a strong option in these tough economic times allowing customers to pay for major expenditures like travel and sports season tickets, memberships, FCA fees, tax bills in monthly instalments.

Prior to joining Premium Credit, Waite worked at Wonga as its group chief executive which she claims “transformed [her] capabilities in fintech”.

She also spent the longest part of her career – nearly nine years working at RSA in a series of senior roles including SME director of UK commercial and chief executive of RSA Latvia, of which she said has “helped tremendously in her role”.

“Knowing the market and how the products work, the key brokers and software houses and critically the people, have all helped me feel like I’ve come ‘back home’,” she says.

’Largely unhindered’

Prior to lockdown the firm introduced a wave of technological improvements – this included transferring its digital business operations to the cloud, updating its online self-service system.

It was this, Waite said that enabled the business to function “largely unhindered”. She says: “We’ve been around for a long time, but we operate like a fintech business as a result of all of our investment and that’s been very pleasing to see.”

Looking to the future, Waite adds: “As our partners prosper, we of course benefit too.”

Read more….The Rooney Rule: Could it improve the recruitment and retention of ethnic minorities in insurance?

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