Why credit insurers are the unsung heroes of the sector: a Q&A with account manager David Price
month’s edition of Xenia’s Coffee Cup Corner series, we speak to account
manager David Price, who is based in our Birmingham office, about the vital
function of credit insurance, what he enjoys about working for the company and
his famous hungover dancing.
How long have you worked at Xenia?
Thanks to TUPE I have been working here for 21 years and three months, which is far longer than it has been around, so it just goes to show how committed I am.
What this role means
I work to ensure my clients and prospects have the best policy in the market to support and expand their trade, and work during this policy period to maximise the benefit it brings so that they want to renew it the next year.
Why do you like working for Xenia?
There are lots of great things about working here - the fact we are only a credit insurance and surety brokerage means we can concentrate on our clients without the distractions caused when my division has been part of the big groups. There they try to fit trade credit insurance into a general insurance mould and the fact we need to be there for our client every day of the policy just doesn’t fit in.
Another reason why Xenia is great is that it has the enthusiasm and energy of a start-up, but with experienced staff and management. This means we don’t lose the benefits of tradition - attention to detail, customer focus and ensuring the insurer delivers on their promises - but we also move forward with innovation and initiative.
A piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Don’t be expecting to leave trade credit insurance any time soon.
What's your most commonly asked question in your job role and how would you answer it?
“Why have you cancelled my credit limit?!” Ah, if only I was the insurer as well as the broker - it always surprises me that underwriters don’t automatically agree with my excellent proposals so having the commercial pen would save a lot of time all round.
How did you get into the insurance sector?
I was working in the retail arm of Claims Direct (or Shames Direct as The Sun named it) which involved clients taking out an insurance policy to provide no win, no fee cover. When it made all the staff redundant, the insurance aspect meant I got picked up by an insurance employment agency and after a stint at Crawford and Company I was asked to attend an interview at TDF in Alpha Tower for a permanent position in trade credit insurance. I am not sure anyone else came.
What do you do at Xenia and what does your typical day look like?
Since hybrid working, there have been big changes for the team in terms of how we interact, but the basics of my role are unchanged because the focus remains the client. Post-lockdown, the priority has been getting back out to meet them in person to ensure they have what they need. But whether we do or not, the priority is always to negotiate the deals they want and solve the many issues that arise from one business offering credit to another.
One personal change I have made is to start walking to work. It is far less stressful and with so many delays on every single road into Birmingham, it isn’t any longer than the commute. Our new office in Brindley Place has a shower so I have toyed with the idea of trying to be even fitter and running to work… but given my family says I smell of zinc and sweaty rain after doing so, this may be unfair on my colleagues.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
That we are helping companies grow and succeed and, if losses do occur, we help them live to fight another day by getting their claims paid.
True, we are not an industry that has a great bank of stories to tell. At Crawford and Company I could tell you how much we paid for a celebrity’s lost earring, while with credit insurance all we have is the less exciting “we got the claim paid so they didn’t go bust”. But we save companies and jobs on a daily basis.
What's the strangest/funniest/most memorable thing you’ve had to do in your current role?
Inflicting my terrible dancing and hungover self on colleagues as part of the Strictly Come Dancing team building at the Xenia conference this year. It still makes me sweat now, but obviously not as much as the drink did on that day. Apologies to all yet again. “Take it easy on the first night,” they said. But I got too excited to see everyone and paid for it the next day.
How has the job changed since you started your career?
When I started there was still a typing pool and letters were still being dictated. The purple ink of the bander sheet was still lurking in the shadows and faxes and the telex machine were still viable options. These have all fallen by the wayside, but we have saved a fortune in postage.
Where do you see Xenia going over the next few years? Continuing to expand both in the UK and overseas. It’s exciting as I feel that instead of being the poor cousin of the general insurance lines, we have a chance to be the main point of call for all business risk for our clients.
Tell us something most people don't know about you
I was named after the last King of Pucklechurch who was killed in a hunting accident.
What job would you be doing if you weren't doing this one?
Who knows? I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.
What would you say to a young person who wants to get into insurance?
It’s a good sector to get into as trade credit insurance entry level positions are well paid in comparison to other industries, and once people have gained experience there is always a demand for good staff, so people who work hard can do well. Xenia in particular is keen on finding and retaining a new generation of staff by developing their careers so I would definitely recommend coming to work with us.
Who's your greatest hero or heroine and why?
I’m not sure I have any as a large portion of achievement seems to be based on luck. So to be heroic I think you need to be someone who carried on when others fell by the wayside. On this basis I would nominate Brian from our Glasgow office as he seemed more worse for wear than me on the Strictly team building afternoon - but he still came back after the break.
What do you do to relax?
Record buying and playing them to others whether they want to hear them or not.
To find out more about the people behind Xenia head over to last month’s Coffee Club Corner episode with our colleague, Andy Jamieson.