Coffee Cup Corner: Q&A with Adam Smith, Business Development Executive
In this month’s edition of Xenia’s Coffee Cup Corner series, we hear from one of our Business Development Executive Adam Smith, who originally wanted to be the Prime Minister. Government’s loss is Xenia’s gain!
How long have you worked at Xenia?
I have just finished my first year at Xenia and have really enjoyed it.
What is your role?
I work as a Business Development Executive. The role is simply to help grow Xenia by creating and closing new business opportunities through a number of different methods. These are all about building relationships through, introducers, partnerships and my own self sourcing.
What do you like about Xenia/Why do you like working for Xenia?
The company is full of great people, a lot of experience and talent. It’s really helped with my start in credit insurance as I have colleagues I can learn off and support me to succeed in my role. I also really enjoy working in an ambitious environment that’s driven to grow and exceed business goals and objectives. That’s what motivates me to perform at the best level I can and to see if I am able to learn new things at a higher level. Xenia definitely fits that bill!
A piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Behave yourself, life will be a lot easier!
What's your most commonly asked question in your job role and how would you answer it?
The conversation I have a lot is that companies are not ready/or don’t think they need a product like credit insurance. This is generally because they haven’t yet been affected by bad debt/default large enough to have negative effect on the company. The problem is when that does happen it’s too late and it often can lead to challenges in areas like cash flow that the company cannot overcome. The message I try to consistently get across is credit insurance is a proactive measure you put in place not a reactive measure. It not just enables you to transfer your receivables risk to the insurer, it also gives you intelligence led approach to how you operate your business. Ultimately this allows you to concentrate on the growth of your company rather than the risk to it.
How did you get into the insurance sector?
I think like most I fell into it after an opportunity presented itself. I’ve always worked in the industry of helping companies protect themselves against credit risk. For the last 12 years I have worked for a credit data/reference solutions agency therefore have found it to be a great base to start my career in the insurance side of the industry as the conversations and objectives are the same, just the solutions are different.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I think most people who work in new business will tell you the same, it’s the hunt! You take a lot of rejection, a lot of banging your head against a brick wall with performance pressure always present as you have targets that need to be hit. I think it takes a certain type of personality to be able to enjoy that. The reward is when you do manage to close a deal there is no better feeling and I still feel the same after being in sales for the last 13 years.
What does your typical day look like?
No two days are the same. One day I could be trying to build new relationships with potential introducers or clients, the next I could be calling around insurers trying to find a key credit limit required for a client’s funding solution that needs to complete 24 hours later. The challenges and variation is what makes it enjoyable.
What's the strangest / funniest / most memorable thing you’ve had to do in your current role?
Unfortunately, I’m not one for dancing. I’m very much one of the men who drinks a pint on the side of the dance floor, but it was very entertaining watching Xenia colleagues learning some ballroom dance moves at the last Xenia Away Day.
How has the job changed since you started your career ?
I can’t comment a lot on the job role due to my infancy in the role. But in terms of the market it’s been interesting to see how it reacts in the worsening economic climate. You can see that insurers are still maintaining a really good level of risk appetite even with an increasing level of claims. Premium rates are still very competitive although we are starting to see a slight hardening of the market compared to when I joined last year. Potential clients are becoming more receptive to the concept of credit insurance if they haven’t used it before in comparison to when I started. It will be interesting to see how the rest of 2023 plays out.
Where do you see Xenia going over the next few years
With the talent the business and ambition it has I can only see Xenia continue to cement its market position as the largest specialist credit insurance broker in the UK and continue to increase its market share. It’s a very exciting time to be part of the company.
What job would you be doing if you weren't doing this one?
I always thought I would make a good Prime Minster, looking at the performance and number of Prime Ministers over the last couple of years I think I would have a pretty good shot at it as well.
What would you say to a young person who wants to get into insurance?
Do it! I can only speak from my experience in the credit insurance industry, but it’s a great industry full of talented people and presents a lot of opportunities in terms of a career. I’ve been told since I started “once your in, your in for life”
Who's your greatest hero or heroine and why?
I don’t have one in particular although I admire a number of CEO & founders of companies. Ive read a lot of biographies over the years and find it very motivating looking at the journeys these founders have gone on. When you look at Jeff Bezos for example, a person who seen the opportunity to sell rare books via the new innovation at the time – the world wide web - he turned that idea from his garage into the largest global online retailer. It shows you the true power and opportunity of entrepreneurship and business, but also the characteristic and mindset you need to succeed in whatever you choose to do.
Tell us something most people don't know about you/what's your hidden talent?
I like to think I’m a bit of a chef in the kitchen, enjoy trying new and more complicated dishes but I would say my specialities are definitely Italian dishes like a classic Alfredo pasta or chicken Milanese.
What do you do to relax?
Until this year it would have been playing rugby - it’s a great outlet after a busy week. But I have recently learnt that my body no longer feels the same about that so now it would be taking my two old English sheepdogs out which is a great way to switch off. Although that often feels like I’m the one being walked not the other way around.
To find out more about the people behind Xenia head over to the last Coffee Cup Corner episode with our colleague Linda Scott MCICM.