Member of the Month: Kevin Cobbledick, Together Insurance Solutions
Kevin Cobbledick, Director of Together Insurance Solutions, reveals how he and his wife now run the business jointly, after he was given the opportunity to set up the brokerage from scratch; and how with the support of Compass, he has been able to set up agencies with his “famous five” insurers.
Tell us about the history of your business
Together Insurance was founded in May 2015 and was set up to compliment the already successful brand Together Financial Solutions that has provided mortgages, protection and financial advice since 2008. The plan was to offer a holistic approach to every client’s lifetime of financial needs, all under one roof.
I was offered the opportunity to create Together Insurance Solutions, as I insured the Together Financial Solutions office and property insurance policies and the Directors, Pete and Ally Whiteley, were impressed with my advice and service. They had always contemplated setting up a general insurance business, and when I was offered the role, I jumped at the chance.
Having always been employed, it was a huge leap of faith to start the business. However, I had the support of my wife Sarah, a full-time teacher at the time, without whose salary and support it would not have been possible.
How has Together Insurance grown?
The first year was mainly about setting up agencies and starting relationships, as well as quoting and winning new business. At the time, I had the luxury of simply writing new business without having to deal with any renewals.
The second year was tough, but I still managed to double the commission and fees and steadily start to grow the book of business. I would work the usual five days, Monday to Friday, and then have an admin day on Saturday, issuing policies and catching up on other paperwork. My wife Sarah would also help out from time-to-time.
In January 2018, Sarah came on board to work full-time for Together Insurance. The book of business was growing quickly, and with oversight from myself, Sarah was soon quoting Personal Lines business, and also learning SME risks too. She passed IF1 qualification and has her IF2 exam in December; she will hopefully be Cert CII by early 2020.
What have been your biggest milestones?
My biggest milestone has been obtaining what I call the famous five; with the help of Compass Networks I selected five key composite insurers that I wanted to trade with. Applying for agencies was very time consuming and there were lots of hoops to jump through. After a lot of hard work and meetings, I managed to obtain agencies with every single insurer that I had set my sights on.
The next highlight was when we recently hit 500 live policies on cover. I know it’s not linked to turnover, commission or fees, but it just made us feel good. Here’s to the next 500!
What are your key business goals for the next 12 months?
Our main goal is to grow Together Insurance and actively review our business plans and approach on a more regular basis to ensure we are meeting our objectives. As our BDM David Mumford has previously built up an insurance brokerage himself, he understands the challenges of scaling our business. Not only that, but he is also helping us focus on our strategy and business plan to move things forward in the right direction.
We’re also looking at how we increase our commission and fee income by circa 15% by the end of this year. Compass London Markets continues to be a good sounding board for us, especially for those hard to place risks. The CLM team have been instrumental in helping me place and retain one of our largest property owner’s risks. The main assistance they give is helping us to win business that the composites tend to shy away from.
From the start, Compass was instrumental in enabling us to obtain agencies with the main composite insurers. Since then, the continued support from the team has allowed us to maintain those existing agencies. They are now assisting us in exploring mutual opportunities to grow each insurer’s book of business. We are very excited for the future of Together Insurance and we know that having the support of the Compass team and our BDM David will help us to reach our goals.
What are the main benefits you gain from your Compass membership?
The main benefit for us is the opportunity to be part of a Network that truly understands and supports the independent broker. Also, it has been vital having a reliable BDM who works with us to helps us grow, so we become as successful as we possibly can be. Our BDM David has been a real shot in the arm for us and we are very lucky to have him on our side.
Another benefit has been the compliance support we have been able to tap into from RWA. They have helped us in respect of the Aviva Development Zone, as well as half-yearly and annual reviews.
The events that Compass host from the Annual Conference and Regional Forums are always well worthwhile, not only do they provide valuable networking opportunities, they help in regards to expanding our knowledge and competency.
What’s next for Together Insurance?
We are looking to recruit further members of staff in the New Year in order to help us achieve our expansion plans. Plus, our sister company has now purchased the entire freehold of the building we work in; we are fortunate to have been given what was an old lighting shop, which will now become our own general insurance office with top notch facilities and livery. It is going to be an amazing step for the business.