The London event speakers gave the audience a generous helping of insight, advice and inspiration

Lee McQueen, Raw Talent recruitment agency

Former Apprentice winner Lee McQueen gave IT Pack delegates a riveting insight into the psychological drivers behind entrepreneurship.

McQueen won the most famous and gruelling business competition on UK TV in 2008, landing a much coveted job with Lord Alan Sugar. Two years ago, he set up his own recruitment agency, Raw Talent. “I always wanted to run my own company. The Apprentice gave me the confidence to do that,” he said.

He told delegates to remain determined. “The fundamentals of business – building relationships, gaining knowledge, putting your head above the parapet – are factors that have led me to where I am now.”

McQueen, who famously lied on his CV to get a place on The Apprentice, told delegates it was possible to get ahead without university qualifications. He said: “People who don’t have a qualification: don’t think you are behind everyone else. Knowledge is the most important thing. We can educate ourselves, so you should have knowledge of the insurance industry.”

He told the IT Packers: “Ask yourself if you know what your competitors are doing. Do you know what your clients are doing? Unless you know that, how are you going to make money?”

It’s important to set goals and strategies, he said. “Every day I achieve something. When Lord Sugar pointed the finger at me, I knew I had achieved that goal.”

Paul McManus, GB Group

ABI data shows detected insurance fraud costs the industry £730m a year, and undetected fraud an estimated £1.9bn a year.

GB Group head of fraud prevention for mobile Paul McManus said false customer details were used by a lot of motor insurance fraudsters when they made claims. To fight this fraud, his firm could check the identities of about 500 million customers worldwide using its online URU system, a joint venture with BT.

“We sit in the background and help organisations ensure the people they are doing business with are people they want to do business with,” he said.

He said insurers could use URU to check name, age, gender, credit and debit card details, date of birth and national insurance numbers over the internet. If the programme detected a potential online fraud, it would inform the insurer, who could then decide if they wanted to keep dealing with that client. “Fraudsters are a lot braver in an online process. They take bigger risks,” McManus said.

The insurance sector does not currently have the same strict mandatory requirements on checking customer details as other sectors such as banking, McManus said.

He added that insurers and brokers could still benefit from in-depth customer checks through reduced fraud, a clear audit trail, improved compliance and a faster turnaround.

Paul Heybourne, Aviva

It’s been a slow start, but insurance technology is starting to change the face of the industry.

Aviva senior project manager Paul Heybourne showed delegates two Aviva underwriting systems that have helped rate commercial risks. Hawkeye gives underwriters a bird’s eye view of an area, including the locations of Aviva’s previous risks to avoid it having too many risks in the same area.

A map displays coloured zones to show areas at risk of flooding – information Aviva shares with brokers and those with delegated underwriting authority. Other insurers are developing similar technology but, said Heybourne, Aviva is not planning to share this feature.

He also showed how Aviva could use thermal imaging to help rate risks. A handheld device could spot risky patches of heat, such as hot wires, even behind walls. Heybourne said underwriters benefited by being able to assess risk while minimising disruption to clients.

“This is the first time mobile phones and portable computers are outselling PCs,” he said. In response, Aviva is designing mobile phone apps and making its websites easier to view.

Heybourne said previously shelved plans for telematics were also being revisited. “We are watching our competitors and seeing what they are doing,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to start pricing risks again on exactly how the vehicle is being driven.”

Ellen Bennett, editor-in-chief, Insurance Times

The IT Pack, now in its third year, has built an unstoppable momentum. This was clear at the 2011 launch event, when last year’s winner Leon Walker joined me and former Young Achiever of the Year Neil Grimshaw on stage.

Walker and Grimshaw are great examples of how the publicity surrounding awards can send careers stellar. From a standing start four years ago, Grimshaw now has a successful business handling an annual gross written premium of £5m and employing 12 staff. Walker is making a name for himself at international broker JLT. Both have worked hard, displaying steely determination and ambition to get where they are today.

Grimshaw and Walker both mentioned the barriers that can stand in young people’s way in general insurance. Among them was a sense of ‘ageism’, both from clients and from the industry itself – the entrenched belief that younger people, both entrepreneurs and employees of big businesses, cannot excel like their elders.

Our two past winners provide a clear response to anyone who holds that belief. One of the best things about the IT Pack is that it shows (and doesn’t just say) that the future of the industry is in safe hands.

It was a pleasure to hear Grimshaw and Walkers’ stories, and I hope it inspired some members of the audience to try to be on that stage next year.

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