Category: Insight | Date: 02/11/2022

Why credit insurance is more important than a burglar alarm: a Q&A with business development executive Andy Jamieson

In this month’s edition of Xenia’s Coffee Cup Corner series, we speak to business development executive Andy Jamieson, who is based in our Northampton office about the question he is most commonly asked, what he enjoys about working for the company and... model train sets.

How long have you worked at Xenia?
Coming up to a year.

What this role means:
I basically sell new credit insurance policies but also manage a large portfolio of existing clients, some I have looked after for over 25 years.

Why do you like working for Xenia?
Sounds like a cliche but it's just one big happy family. From the top down, all the people are genuinely good folk, we have the same ethic towards clients that I've held as a smaller credit broker.

A piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Buy less cars and eat less chocolate.

What's your most commonly asked question in your job role and how would you answer it?
"Why do I need credit insurance when I've never had a bad debt?”

What I say to that is you may know your customers very well, even play golf with some of them, but it's highly unlikely you'll know your customer’s customers.

Also, when you get burgled the first thing you're likely to do is fit a burglar alarm. A credit insurance policy is far better than a burglar alarm for your business!

How did you get into the insurance sector?
By sheer chance and good luck. I started out as a marine loss adjuster in the late ‘70s, then as a banker in the mid ‘80s. Somewhat disillusioned by the late 80s, I sought a new challenge and by a lucky twist of fate found myself as an account executive at Trade Indemnity (now Allianz Trade) in 1989.

Four years later, I was headhunted by a general broker to establish a new credit division. Ten years on, now as a shareholder, we sold the business to a very large general broker. Three years later we managed to buy it back and along with my long standing business partners set up Peter Hill Credit. Roll forward another 15 years and we were acquired by Xenia Broking. Now I find myself working with many good old friends in the industry and many newer young ones too.

What do you do at Xenia and what does your typical day look like?
My typical day starts early: getting on top of my emails, renewals and new business cases, negotiating with underwriters… and a lot of telephone calls. Meetings with clients are now thankfully more face-to-face but sometimes with the convenience of Teams if needed.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The great relationship with my clients and good folk of our industry built up over a third of a century. I can learn something new every day and still find time to talk about electric cars!

What's the strangest/funniest/most memorable thing you’ve had to do in your current role?
Many years ago I learnt the skill of “frames of reference”. This is learning a little about nearly every subject you can think of no matter how obscure and then, through open-ended discussion, establish a common frame of reference with the other party you're talking to in and out of work. So I can usually quickly discover a common interest in most subjects.

Then, a few years back I came across a very introverted CFO. After many encounters he managed to defeat these skills. Finally I said: "I give up, what on earth do you do outside work?” He told me about a large model train set in his attic. And what followed was an hour's meander on the joys of 00 gauge, Bullied, A4 Pacifics, Schools, Battle of Britains, Deltics, 440s, 462s, 020s, Black Fives and Barry Islands etc - much to his delight.

How has the job changed since you started your career?
When I started years before emails, internet, faxes and even mobile phones, the only way to keep in touch was stopping at a telephone box with a pocket of loose change, calling the office for messages and calling clients back from there. Tell the millennials that and they won't believe you!

Where do you see Xenia going over the next few years?
Becoming the UK's largest independent specialist credit and bond broker and an academy where newcomers can join from outside the industry, bringing skills with them to learn a new career.

Tell us something most people don't know about you?
I was briefly a photographic model (no, not that type) in my youth.

What job would you be doing if you weren't doing this one?
Probably selling electric cars and renewable energy solutions.

What would you say to a young person who wants to get into insurance?
Credit insurance is a niche sector, there’s never a dull moment and it’s a great career. It's a steep learning curve but the rewards are high.

Who's your greatest hero or heroine and why?
That’s a tie between Mozart and Beethoven who both achieved perfection in their field. They are an instant antidote to a stressful day.

What do you do to relax?
I love to tinker and restore classic cars, especially American muscle cars. I like travel - especially in Italy - and classical music, food and wine. And there’s never a dull moment with 19 children and grandchildren.

To find out more about the people behind Xenia head over to last month’s Coffee Club Corner episode with our colleague, Roberto Simone.