Hiscox people: Ross Dingwall
Reflecting on a career dedicated to the insurance industry, Ross Dingwall, Managing Director of Hiscox UK and Ireland Broker channel, explains what success looks like, whether good decision making is all about instinct and how he wants to work with smaller agencies.
Time in insurance: I’ve worked in insurance all my life. I got my first job in the industry aged 17, so 27 years now. Interestingly, I have never had another job other than in insurance – not even a paper round or Saturday job!
Background: I worked for General Accident as it was then called (now Aviva) for 11 and a half years in various different roles and then joined Hiscox in 2000, starting as a high-net-worth underwriter in Scotland. I then moved to Colchester where I was regional manager before becoming Sales Operations Manager, followed by Sales Director and now Managing Director.
Insurance speciality: I’m best known as a good sales person.
Last book read: I recently finished ‘Legacy’, which was all about what you can learn on leadership from the All Blacks of New Zealand – it was a great read.
Describe your management style: Collaborative and supportive. I like letting people get on with it and not micro-managing.
What motivates and inspires you? I like to win, so hitting numbers and making sure we are delivering on the day job is really important to me. I’m also inspired by making a difference, so setting a target and achieving it.
What does success look like? Success is two things: in the short term it’s about delivering the numbers and everybody delivering in their day job, whether you’re a front-line underwriter or in back office operations. Longer term, we have a strategy for 2020 and that is to grow the business to £550 million. I think underpinning all of this is to be recognised as the most successful specialist niche insurer in the marketplace.
Are your best decisions based on instinct or information? If it’s a very big decision, the best ones are based on instinct. You will never have 100% of the information you need, so there is always an element of instinct required.
Best advice ever given to you? You spend the vast majority of your life in work so do something you enjoy and can do your best at. There is nothing worse than people moaning about their job all the time.
What is your greatest extravagance? My greatest extravagance is probably my bike. I have a number of bikes, but last year I bought a road bike that cost me £13,000 – I have it insured with a good insurance company!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? From a professional point of view, becoming the Managing Director of the business. When I joined Hiscox 17 years ago, I never thought I would be the MD. I am also hoping to achieve a sub three-hour marathon in Manchester in April, so hopefully I can put that down as one of my greatest achievements, too!
What do you think sets Hiscox apart from the competition? First of all, the people. I genuinely believe that we employ the best people in the marketplace. Secondly, we are a specialist, niche insurer, which is really important to us. From a brokers’ perspective, this means we bring a different offering in the areas we do business in.
We have a very consistent strategy and a long history in the products we offer. We’ve been in the private client, high value household insurance business for 25 years and are the market leader. When you look at our products and our pricing, they are consistent year-on-year.
What Hiscox products and service opportunities are you most excited about this year? The work we’re doing with the smaller brokers, which is called Hiscox Reach, is really quite exciting for us. I think we’ve probably not been able to service those brokers as well as we would have liked in the past, so we’re putting resource and focus into that and I’m excited to see how we can jointly grow our accounts together.
Hiscox Reach is geared towards small agencies that generally have around £100,000 of business with us. We are looking to work with them in a new, efficient way that allows them to trade with us through out e-trading platform. This system was piloted last year and it has been officially launched to all brokers this year.
What do you enjoy most about working for Hiscox? The ability to make a difference. I have been here for 17 years and I have seen quite a lot change in the business, with most of that change coming from people within. We have a relatively flat structure, so if someone’s got an idea and they want to pursue it and move it through the business, there’s an opportunity to do that.
In a lot of other larger organisations, you are a tiny cog in a massive wheel, so it’s impossible to make any change. At Hiscox, whether you have been here six months or six years, everybody has got a chance to make a change to the business. I genuinely believe that’s what keeps us at the top of our game.