People in profile: Alan Chandler
It’s fair to say that if you work in the insurance industry, you will probably have heard of Alan Chandler. He’s one of the most popular and widely used trainers in the industry, both in the UK and in Europe.
His courses, which he’s been running since 2005, deliver some of the best pass rates for a range of professional qualifications within the insurance industry. And it’s because of his deep experience in the industry, as well as his ability to turn dry material into easy-to-understand examples, that sets him apart from the rest.
Alan worked for a number of years as an operations manager and in project management NatWest Insurance Services (which later became part of Royal Bank of Scotland).
He moved on to work at Allianz as an operations manager. “It was perfect for what I’m doing now. I ran a broking arm, a claims arm, and an underwriting arm. I even had a small period of time doing IT projects and also writing compliance manuals. Without realising it I was ticking a lot of boxes for my future career!”
After a while, he realised that what he really wanted to be doing was training. “I always loved the training side of things,” he says. “That always gave me the biggest satisfaction. Sitting down with staff and explaining how we operate. That was always the best bit of the job.”
He initially went part-time and used some of his holidays to develop his training consultancy, before eventually going full-time in 2005. “It was a leap. With anyone going self-employed this an element of risk,” says Alan.
Despite the daunting task of going it alone, it was made all the easier because Alan knew he was doing something that he loved. “I’ve always been passionate about sharing knowledge. I love presenting and the interaction with people.”
He likes to keep his classes engaging and full of real life examples, rather than regurgitating dry and technical information from textbooks. “I’ve always been very good at getting people to understand things through simple examples and connecting with people at all levels.
“I think because of the fact I worked in claims, underwriting, and broking, I always have real life examples that I can show. Because I continue to do some consultancy work, I’m still involved in the industry so I can bring that knowledge to my training.”
It’s this experience that has enabled him to understand how to explain complex subjects in a meaningful way, and Alan takes great satisfaction when one of his trainees suddenly understands what he’s explaining. “One of the biggest thrills in my job is creating the lightbulb moments for people,” he says. “It’s lovely when I get feedback from clients thanking me. It’s why I do what I do.”
Before March last year, Alan would spend his weeks travelling across Europe providing training to insurers. Because of the travel, though, he would only manage to see one client per day.
Alan was in great demand before the pandemic struck, with bookings already confirmed all the way up to February 2021. However, Covid-19 has clearly meant he hasn’t been able to travel around the country as much and meet trainees in person.
This hasn’t impacted his ability to lead his courses, however. Indeed it’s led to Alan being inundated with requests from across Europe for remote training courses. “I can see multiple people in one day and so I’m able to do consulting and training in a far wider way than before,” says Alan. “It has transformed my business model.”
He thinks that, once the world returns to some semblance of normality, around 75% of his courses will remain online as it saves clients on costs and he can reach more people. “I wish [the pandemic] hadn’t happened for obvious reasons, but purely from a business point of view it allows me to share my training techniques with so many more people.”
“I can see people in some cases never going back to face-to-face training,” he explains. “One Glasgow-based client recently said to me, ‘Alan, don’t take this the wrong way but we never want to see you here again! We love webinars: they’re less disruptive for our office, it’s much better for you, and it’s more cost effective for both of us.’”
Despite the benefits of remote-training, though, Alan can’t wait to get back on the road and meet people in person. The social aspect of visiting a client in person is something that hasn’t been possible over the last year. Networking is an important aspect that can’t be replicated online, and so there will always be an element of face-to-face. But the bulk of Alan’s work is likely to be remote in the future.
Getting back to normal
A desire for social interaction is also evident in Alan’s personal life. Outside of work, he is a keen sports fan. He’s a season ticket holder Bristol City Football Club (“for my sins”) and also follows Bristol Bears rugby union club. Not being able to attend matches over the last year has been difficult, he says, as it’s an opportunity for him to spend time with his three sons. “I like to think that we’ll appreciate the little things a bit more. I’m looking forward to going to a football stadium full of people and being able to embrace people.”
He’s also a passionate traveller and can’t wait to be able to see the world again when it’s possible. In fact, he has trips to both Lisbon and Mexico that had to be postponed because of the pandemic already lined up.
Evidently, Alan’s curiosity for the world and desire to interact with people will mean many in the insurance industry will be seeing a lot more of him – digitally and in person – in the not too distant future.
Visit our Webinars and Events page to view Alan's previous training webinars - The Perfect Storm - 7 reasons why we're going to get the hardest market in a generation (external link) and How to Maximise Opportunities in a Hard Market (external link).
If you would like to get in touch with Alan Chandler he can be reached on LinkedIn (external link).