From Clark Thomson’s new offices at Fairways Business Park in Inverness, regional development manager Carolyn Oddy is bullish about the future. Alongside the 8,000 square feet of prime office accommodation purchased last year, the firm has also made significant investments in the latest industry IT solutions to ensure that clients receive a highly personal and responsive service delivered efficiently and cost-effectively.
In spite of competition from numerous insurance brokers and online providers, Clark Thomson’s business continues to grow, and Ben Bailey, the managing director, confirms that the recently closed 2014-15 financial year broke new ground for the company. “The key to success lies in putting the client’s needs at the centre of everything we do,” he says.
“Whether our client is looking for sophisticated international risk management and insurance advice for their business or cost-effective household insurance, we have a service proposition to meet the need. At the heart of this service lies our ability to support clients in their hour of need immediately following loss, and in many cases it is not an exaggeration to say that we are helping clients put their lives back together.”
This is shown by one Inverness client, New Start Highland. “As a busy social enterprise, we rely on efficient and timely service and information to make sure we are equipped chief executive James Dunbar. “We can always depend on this high level of service from Clark Thomson.”
Growth of the company over recent years seems to suggest the message is being heard and appreciated by both existing and potential clients. Carolyn Oddy advises that significant contributors to this success are the support from existing clients and the acquisition of new clients through word-of-mouth recommendations. “Risks are rarely straightforward and can vary enormously between customers,” she says.
“For example, many online offerings do not accommodate non-standard risks, and so the classic car, the family home which doubles as a bed and breakfast or the sole trader who has diversified into a new activity often cannot be properly catered for through this route.
“The difference that Clark Thomson offers is personal service to identify and incorporate all these risks and activities at the start of the insurance cover, rather than the client incurring delays, stress and in many cases non-payment when they are identified following loss. Of fundamental importance to building long-term relationships with our clients is that in addition to competitive premium costs, claims are agreed and paid quickly and that comes down to us ensuring you have the right insurance cover in the first instance.”
Clark Thomson was established in 1965 and is thus celebrating 50 years in business this year. The company now has nine offices across Scotland, from Glasgow to Kirkwall, and through membership of a leading international association of independent brokers is able to place business across the world. With its head office in Perth, the company employs over 200 staff in Scotland, handles in excess of £60 million in premiums annually and is proud of its chartered status.
Not all insurance brokers are chartered and this accreditation is the industry’s “gold standard” for professionalism. “Relatively few insurance brokers have achieved this standard, which is all about staff capabilities – their training, professional qualifications and integrity,” Ben Bailey says. “I believe it is essential, in today’s business environment where consumer rights are rightly at the forefront of customer experience, that our clients should be able to rely on truly independent advice which is underpinned by the highest standards of advice and service.
“The consequence of operating in this way ensures that clients get the advice needed in a timely, consistent and effective manner when they need it – and in our industry, any variance on this can have catastrophic consequences.”