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Get to know…Matthew Lees, FMG

Modern Insurance Magazine sits with Matthew Lees after his recent promotion to National Sales Manager – Insurance, at FMG

Tell us about your role at your firm. What do you do, and what do you find most interesting about it?

As National Sales Manager, my remit is developing new business relationships across the insurance sector, whether that’s with insurers, brokers, MGA’s or any other insurer partner. Key responsibilities include the initial relatitonship engagement, discovery and requirement gathering, commercial and proposition development and implementation.

My role allows for involvement in the end-to-end new business process, which really brings a great level of variety to my role, which I thrive upon. One day I may be focused on prospecting and identifying potential new customers for FMG, the next I could be delivering sales presentations, negotiating contracts or leading our teams and new clients through the implementation process. That said, as a ‘sales guy’ there is no better moment than the news breaking that you’ve been successful in winning a new partnership!

When a new partnership is live and we’re able to clearly evidence the value FMG is demonstrating – minimising indemnity spend, enhancing the policyholder/claims journey and helping partners achieve their goals and objectives, the satisfaction knowing that you’ve delivered for a customer is both rewarding and motivating (to go do it all again!).

What are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?

FMG is in a really strong position as we start 2022. We’ve spent the last couple of years really focusing on enhancing both our digital and operational capabilities, delivering new enhancements over this time that really drive efficiencies and future-proof our services. This quarter will see us launch ‘FMG Connect’, a new multi-channel communication platform to provide greater ease of access to claims management services. The new web-based platform will change the way insurer partners and policyholders are able to communicate with us, providing more choice to request or share claims information instantly by tablet, phone or desktop as well as telephone.

The addition of 68 repair sites with the acquisition of the UK’s largest wholly owned repair network, FMG Repair Services – significantly increases our strategic and operational capability to support a wider number of partners requiring automotive repairs.

Of course, there are challenges too. Aside from the clear economic pressures impacting us all, the need to continue to adapt to changing industry trends and stay ahead of the competition is often front of mind.

More regularly we’re discussing increasing digitalisation throughout the claims process. Customers require bespoke solutions and we have to be able to design and deliver systems and processes to help them achieve their goals. This includes the topical ENOL, or alternative FNOL solutions, and streamlining claims and repair workflows, to improve speed, efficiency and accuracy at every stage.

In 2021 we invested heavily in API links, a digitalisation project to upgrade system integration with our partners. This has changed the way we interact and exchange data with clients, creating a faster, more robust and future-proof solution to drive the most efficient resolution of claims and vehicle repairs.

We share a joint commitment in ensuring an efficient and seamless customer experience lies at the heart of everything we do. We consider ourselves experts in designing and building truly bespoke and technically brilliant claims management services to execute our commitment, however in an ever-changing market and technological landscape, one of the biggest challenges is remaining at the forefront of this change.

If you could go back to the start of your professional career, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have had very supportive managers and senior colleagues, from which I’ve learnt a lot and they’ve helped shape my own successes.

Two key things standout: the importance of creating and developing strong relationships across the industry, regardless of whether there is an immediate opportunity or not; and ‘creativity/thinking outside the box’ – not being stagnated by what’s been done before, instead looking at things from a fresh perspective and finding ways to make the seemingly impossible, possible!

Looking back on my earlier career, in both New Business roles and within other functions, I placed a great focus on evidencing my capabilities in different areas – analysis, business proposals, problem solving, etc. I would advise my younger self that yes, those skills are important, but understanding the foundations of business is key; the basics of developing meaningful connections with as many contacts as possible, as well as not being afraid to challenge the norm and pushing boundaries.

What would be your prediction for the industry in 2022 and beyond?

I’m interested to see what impact developing in-vehicle technology has on claims processes. As in-vehicle data becomes available to identify and triage damage, it poses interesting questions as to what impact this may have on the traditional policyholder/insurer model.

It will also be interesting to see how COVID continues to impact vehicle ownership culture and driving behaviour. This will likely bring both threats and opportunities with vehicle sharing schemes and mileage-based insurance propositions already being hotly discussed within the sector.

What made you want to work in this industry?

I joined FMG on the graduate scheme in 2011 – and in all honesty, it wasn’t so much the industry that initially attracted me. At the time, we were a privately owned business that had enjoyed significant growth, but only really scratching the surface of the insurance market. The trajectory, the aspirational SME culture and the potential for growth was what attracted me. It seemed like a fantastic environment to work hard and make my mark.

Over 10 years on and following various iterations of company ownership, including achieving FTSE250 status as part of the wider group – it really has been everything I hoped it would be and has allowed me to develop a fantastic career.

Thus far, what has been your most significant or proudest achievement in your current or previous roles?

After a few years with the business – and following the loss of a close family member – I decided to look for a completely new opportunity and I applied for a role within the New Business Team.

Thankfully, FMG recognised the value of transferable skills and I went from promoting FMG to potential new recruits and negotiating employee relation matters in my then HR role, to promoting FMG’s services and negotiating with potential new clients in my new role.

Looking back, it was a difficult decision at the time – to risk ‘raising my head above the parapet’ in a role that I was progressing well in. I’m very proud to have made the bold decision and push myself out of my comfort zone. Since then, it’s provided career development opportunities and enabled many new business wins and achievements that I couldn’t have imagined.

How would you like to see the insurance industry improved next year / 5 years / by the time you retire?

A colleague recently shared internally, the changes he’d seen working at FMG for 15 years.

Back then we were smashing tv screens whilst ten pin bowling on the new Wii console, Twitter was starting to tweet, and Facebook’s new social platform had just launched. Widespread working from home and the wearing of face masks weren’t on anyone’s agenda.

Given the exponential pace of change, I wouldn’t like to predict where we will be in the next 5 years – and 20 years and beyond is truly unimaginable.  Maybe we’ll only exist within the metaverse and digital assets will be the focus of the insurance market with claims paid out in crypto currency?!

What we can control however, is how we look to identify change – always agile enough to adapt and maximise emerging opportunities (and threats if 2020 was anything to go by!). As I shared earlier, I’m very proud to be leading the sales efforts of a company that is in a great position to seize these opportunities through continuous investment and innovation.

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