Simon Smith

This week we speak to Simon Smith, Commercial Director at Industry Insights which provides business consultancy services within the automotive and motor insurance sectors.  

Their unique approach has led to the creation of a pioneering connected supply chain solution to Insurers, Fleets and Manufacturers.

How did you get to where you are today?

I have been very fortunate to work with some great thinkers throughout my career, all of whom have been passionate about their roles within the businesses they represent, that sense of pride is something I have certainly attempted to harness to the best of my ability.

Timing has also played a huge part, in 2010 I was given the opportunity to start on a brand new project within Aviva that would see the business move into the price comparison market, the exec. at the time was very entrepreneurial and encouraged some free thinking and occasional risk-taking.

In those conditions I was able to progress with some great mentors around me, which opened the door for me to move to Nationwide Crash and more recently, to team up with Steve & Sharon at Industry Insights.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your sector of the industry?

Is Brexit too much of a cliché here? I guess that there are a lot of unknowns in 2019 which is an insurer’s worst nightmare because it presents a higher level of risk. So to name a few of the risks that are out there in 2019, I would suggest parts supply chain disruption would be a considerable inconvenience to both repairers and insurers and outside of motor repair.

I believe that the regulator will have to focus attention on the way that LEI is sold to customers and the value that the policy offers once purchased.

How are you and your business dealing with this?

We are fortunate to work with many leading companies across Connected Solutions who are experts within their fields, so in the parts supply chain, we have a partnership with Advantage Parts who have a number of initiatives to support parts procurement on a global basis.

This will certainly help alleviate sourcing challenges if we are faced with a limited parts supply chain or manufacturing programme within the EU region.

In respect of the LEI, we have partnerships with both Doctors Chambers & Carpenters who are incredibly well placed to positively influence the value proposition of LEI. I genuinely believe that we will see digital healthcare solutions, such as those currently provided by Vitality being more commonplace in 2019, hopefully linked to a more innovative LEI offering.

Out of your achievements, what are you most proud of and why?

This may sound slightly banal but I guess my greatest achievement is my family, they certainly help focus the mind and are great at helping me get my priorities in the right order.

In terms of corporate achievements, slightly more difficult – during my time at Quote Me Happy Aviva we made some huge strides to deliver market-leading non-insurance income returns to the business, in tough conditions we achieved our budgeted PIF targets in 2011, 2012 and were on track when I left in 2013. That was my first real experience of overall profit & loss on a significant scale.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the claims industry?

I think about the best advice I was given when I started out and it is still the best advice I could give to anyone is patience and the ability to play the long game. People will all work at different paces and its often all too easy to become frustrated when things don’t move as quickly as you would like, so stay calm and try not to rush.

More recently, and this is certainly something that has come with getting older is taking a step back. My children have taught me that everyone should have a view and sometimes we need to take counsel from more people than perhaps we do – so have a moment a quiet reflection before committing to anything.

If you could change anything what would you do to make the insurance industry “Better Tomorrow”?

Great question, I guess my initial thoughts (having just had a step back to contemplate!) are that insurers are not charities and they are in the business they are in to make profit, and as a supply chain function, we are also in the business to make a profit, so clear dialogue on what is financially acceptable between insurers and their working partners is critical.

I think on occasions it’s all too easy to think that either party is ripping the other off – how we recover the necessary levels of trust to tackle this is another challenge altogether.

What’s your top tip for being productive?

I genuinely think if you want to be successful you need to have some clear objectives for yourself, which can either be week by week or month by month. Without having a focus point for any given project it is all too easy to become distracted away from what matters.

Once you’ve committed to your list – nail it, don’t be half-hearted and don’t make excuses.

What gadget can’t you live without?

Sadly, my phone and more specifically Twitter, I find myself now using Twitter for my daily news feed and sports updates. Everything is in one place and you get the occasional bit of craziness thrown into Twitter for good measure.

Talent or Perseverance?

Perseverance 100%. In both my early sporting life and in my business life I have been with some incredibly talented young people, but at some stage, the talent needs to be merged with perseverance.

The people who go onto be successful in our industry are normally blessed with a mixture of dogged determination and incredibly thick skin.

What do you do to switch off or escape from work?

Time with family and holidaying has become my major escape. As a family, we are trying to travel as much as possible with the children and let them see as much of the world as we can afford. My belief is that they will benefit from that as they get older and will have a greater understanding of different religions and different ways of life.

Outside of travelling, I am a keen reader and have just finished the book “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, which details the history of Nike, a great lesson itself in the art of perseverance!

Finally, anyone that knows me will be aware that I like the occasional game of golf, just no questions on what my actual handicap is these days!!

The people who go onto be successful in our industry are normally blessed with a mixture of dogged determination and incredibly thick skin.

Simon Smith


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