Broker Spotlight
Karl Sutcliffe

23rd February 2021

This month, we turn the spotlight on Karl Sutcliffe of Cowens Group, chartered insurance brokers and financial planners, based in Mansfield.

In a few sentences, tell us about your business?

Fiercely independent general insurance broker with a current GWP of circa £18.5m, growing rapidly and doing so by providing a service and value-led proposition across all brands in our business – always acting with honesty, integrity and attention to detail. The brands include Cowens Survival Capability, Cowens Xpress Cover, Cowens Private Clients, Cowens Barbersure, Cowens Risks Solutions and Cowens Financial Architects. I started working at Cowens aged 19 and 20 years later I am still here – I am not the only long term employee either so this tells you a lot about the culture, the owners and the management of the business.

What positives - or new ways of working - have you taken from the pandemic period?

Well, I have had to stop using paper files and go paperless…. if you said this to me 12 months ago I would have been horrified.  Zoom and remote meetings saving time and travel costs.  I am a sociable person and like face-to-face meetings, but it has helped with workloads and see it being an integral part of business trading going forward – in moderation!

What top tips can you share to stay focused and productive when working from home?

Stay in regular contact with colleagues and insurers be it via Zoom, WhatsApp or phone.

Remain engaged in changes or results happening within both the industry and your own business to re-enforce the fact that what you are doing is producing results and your productivity and input is important. Take breaks away from your work area when you feel fatigued and get some fresh air everyday which is really important. Set yourself achievable targets for the day and week, etc to keep focused.

In the past few months, what is the smallest change you have made which has had the biggest impact?

Taking time to talk to people you wouldn’t frequently or normally talk to even if it is just to say hello and have a chat. The impact on others can potentially be significant for their wellbeing as well as your own self positive outlook.

What do you enjoy most about working in insurance broking?

Building relationships with insurers and other people within the industry especially when it includes a beer or two. Winning new business by using markets and products other brokers haven’t thought of. Enhancing my knowledge on the less common insurance products and the many exposures that exist and people are unaware of.

What worries you the most about the future of insurance broking?

Lack of investment in younger talent in terms of technical / product knowledge opposed to use of quote engines and pre-loaded question sets. What are you actually insuring (or not, in a lot of cases)? Cowens pride themselves in nurturing young talent and giving them the technical knowledge to grow…. I am a product of this ethos amongst many others at Cowens.

If you could work in any other industry apart from insurance broking, what would it be and why?

Retro Arcade Games Machine tester.  I have built my own arcade machine and getting paid to try others would do me just fine.

If you could offer one piece of advice to someone just starting out in the industry, what would it be?

If you are going to do insurance, do it properly, know your stuff and continue to enhance your knowledge of available products.  

Which Blink products or services have been|are most beneficial to your business?

ABACUS and Allied World introductions have probably been our biggest success stories to date

If there’s one thing we’d like from Blink it’s …

Finding a solution for COVID-19!!

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