After the launch of BN London Markets, we caught up with Paul Longhurst, Broking and Distribution Director at Bishopsgate, to talk about the thrill of building from the ground up, how he’s bringing Speed Dating into the office (it’s not what you think) and what makes the BNLM facility exclusive.
Paul Longhurst most certainly isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. With the option of an easy life beckoning, he instead decided to take on a brand new quest in the shape of creating something fresh and new to replace the old Towergate London Markets. Now, Broker Network London Markets: Powered by Bishopsgate has been unveiled to the world – and the team have their sights set on turning the London Market industry on its head.
A fresh approach
It was February of 2016 when Paul was approached by Des O’Connor, Neil Pearce and David Ross to come on board with what was then Towergate London Markets. “It was a chance to do something different and build something brand new, which was quite exciting,” says Paul.
At Bishopsgate Paul is the ‘captain of the ship’, so to speak, steering the team and keeping a lookout for opportunities for growth. “I have responsibility for the UK proposition for Broker Network whether it’s Professional Indemnity, Motor, Property, Liability, Personal Accident, or Jeweller’s Block,” says Paul. “At my last job the team were very successful at growing the business, almost to the point where we had reached saturation and had nowhere else to go, so it’s great to build this from the bottom up where we have all the possibilities laid out in front of us. For Bishopsgate and Broker Network it’s all about growth.”
Paul adds that the decision to work with Broker Network came very early on. “From the beginning it was all designed with Broker Network very much in mind. Broker Network offered a huge opportunity for us and we want to be the dedicated London broking partner for Broker Network Members. My department heads have always been huge supporters of this initiative and the collective enthusiasm has been a massive driver. David Gerrish as Head of Motor in particular has been especially helpful as we shaped our proposition with Broker Network and its Members.”
But what makes BN London Markets different? And how is the facility exclusive? Paul explains that the Bishopsgate and Broker Network teams worked closely together to look at what Members were asking for, and deliver a new propoition that ticks those critical boxes. “Broking houses can give you a million and one reasons to use them, but we’ve identified that there are four main elements that are truly crucial to Members – superior service; the best people to offer that service; exclusive schemes for tough trades or emerging risks; and wide access to the market,” explains Paul. “BN London Markets is exclusive because it combines these factors with a dedicated team that the Member can build a close relationship with.”
“Service is first and foremost,” says Paul. “London Market wholesale brokers typically have a poor reputation for not responding quickly, but giving a response on time, every time, is vital for us. Most of the team have worked in London Markets for years so we’re able to offer a fantastic level of experience, and we want to make sure that not only are we going back to brokers within one or two days, but also that we’re able to discuss strategy with them and properly manage their expectations so that they get a better level of service,” Paul explains.
Access all areas
Paul points out that Members also need to know that the team have access to not just some, but most of the markets that might be able to help (taking Motor as an example, the team have access to around 17 markets) and that they’ve developed strong relationships with the best London Market underwriters. “I don’t want to talk the competition down, but others in the industry work with so many brokers that they can never really form any connection or relationship, ” Paul comments. “Bishopsgate and Broker Network are owned by the same investors and work closely together, and I think that having those personal relationships counts for a lot – we’re determined not to just be some faceless entity.”
Paul goes on to drive home how the focus is not only on having access to many markets, but having access to markets where people actively want to trade with the team. “We’ve got a lot of clout in the market, and because we’re only dealing with a select number of brokers the market know that when we go and present then they recognise the strength of our relationship with the Network and their Members” says Paul. “We are focused in our marketing so when we meet with underwriters with a case from a Broker Network Member they feel they have a good chance of winning the business. It’s a less scattergun approach, and it works.”
A different kind of speed dating…
“We’re constantly trying to get in front of as many Members as possible,” says Paul. “We want to meet up with people, have a chat and explain why our service is different from the rest.” Paul goes on to describe the new ‘Speed Dating’ events (don’t worry – they’re completely professional!) where Members are taken for a tour around Lloyd’s and small groups chat with each of the various teams for 10-15 minutes. “We have a day arranged with some southern-based Members and are confident it will work well, having used a similar format with the Network’s BDMs” says Paul. “It’s all part and parcel of trying to get the message out. We’re looking at running some additional events in January; if any Members would like to join us they’re more than welcome!”
Paul is supported by a team of around 30, some of whom attended the Regional Meetings. We asked him to tell us something we didn’t already know about some of the key players… “David Gerrish who ‘drives’ our motor proposition has formed quite a unique relationship with Charlie Browne (Head of PI) and in both ‘Chaz and Dave’ we have well respected market figures who are experts in their respective fields with a great track record in the London Market,” says Paul. “We have Tim Simpson-Lee who heads up our excellent Commercial team, he’s a new dad to a five-month-old baby so doesn’t have much time for sleep! Then there’s Nick McCayna,one of the market leaders in Jeweller’s Block insurance. We have also recently added Claire Feakins from CBC to the team, who specialises in the placement of Binding Authorities; and Dan Dunlop from Aon to head our Sport, PA and Contingency division.”
Paul’s final thought is that the future looks bright for the connection between Broker Network and Bishopsgate: “We have the strength in depth across the team and look forward expanding our relationship with Broker Network Members with our new Broker Network London Market brand.”
Members – if you’d like to register your interest for a ‘Speed Dating’ day, please contact your BDM, and to find out more about BN London Markets, please click here or visit www.bishopsgateinsurance.co.uk