Colm Tully ACII, is Managing Director at Carole Nash. Phelim Murray, Senior Associate and expert in insurance recruitment with Barden, sat down with him recently (virtually of course) to chat about his career to date, and find out more about how he navigated a career in insurance to become one of Ireland’s youngest MDs of a leading insurance intermediary and brand.
In parts one and two we focused on Colm’s early career and the journey that took him to Carole Nash.
Here in part 3 we chat to him about stepping into the role of MD with Carole Nash and what it’s like to work there.
Phelim: You’re currently MD of Carole Nash, there are many people out there wondering how you got to that position. What path did take in your insurance career, to get you where you are today?
Colm: A bit of hard work and a lot of luck basically! I Initially fell Into Insurance but once I got Into Aon, I started planning my career out and trying to make the right steps In order to reach my goals. I was lucky enough to work with and for some really good people who helped me along the way and I was never shy of a challenge or a risk, which Is how I’m here today.
While with The AA I got a phone call from a former colleague who mentioned there was an opportunity coming up in Carole Nash. I was in a good spot with The AA…I was on my 3 year path and making good progress. So initially I said no, I’m ok, to the opportunity.
Literally a couple of days later I had a 1:1 with one of the Exec where the goalposts were moved In relation to some promises made to me when I joined. I was also told that my management style wasn’t going to “get me to the top” (strangely I was encouraged that I needed to be ‘feared more’). This wasn’t my style.
The person who referred me, called again, and at that stage I said I’d meet them. I was aware that they were a very different brand to The AA, with The AA being a top 10 brand in Ireland and Carole Nash were very niche.
The interview was set up and what was supposed to be a 30 minute coffee turned into a 90 minute friendly chat (I have been known to drag out conversations). My follow up interview actually took place at a service station on the M7… by video chat of course!! I laid out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it, they were on board and really have stayed true to their word and have embraced it. I struck a great rapport with Clive Roberts, my boss and MD of Carole Nash UK at the time, so the transition was surprisingly seamless for me.
Phelim: What’s it like to work with Carole Nash? Tell us a little bit more about the company…
Colm: It’s brilliant. Carole Nash are part of the Atlanta group, which Is the Retail Segment of The Ardonagh Group,. Atlanta are ambitious, relentless and hard-working – a perfect fit for me! We just won the Personal Lines Broker award at the Insurance Times Awards last night (18th November).
Although it’s a big group, it really is like a 7,000 people family. I don’t know how they’ve managed to do it and keep that culture with such an amount of people. They have this digitally-focusedbusiness but yet it still has the ‘Cheers’ elements. The Ardonagh CEO, David Ross, Is actually a Mullingar man, so It’s great to see an Irish man running such a big group.
The Atlanta CEO, Ian Donaldson, is a CEO unlike any other I’ve worked for – lots of people say “my door is always open’ but Ian actually means it. The support I get is amazing – if I text Ian now with an urgent problem, he’d be back to me in half an hour. That level of support is phenomenal and is the level of support I aim to give to my team. They are a genuine and authentic bunch, and genuinely love the business and what they do. There are a lot of people who have worked with Ian for 15-20 years, which Is the sign of a really good leader.
We have best in class guys in terms of insurance, in terms of digital, pricing, you name It. Everyone that’s there work hard because of that family piece – people are all bought in. It’s not just talk, it’s genuine and they genuinely care, have a sense of community and trust.
In Ireland there are 40 of us and it would be very easy for us to be forgotten, however we most certainly aren’t. We are currently working through a programme of change to ensure our customers and colleagues get the benefit of the Group expertise In those areas.
The team here specialises in classic car and motorbike insurance. However if you join Carole Nash it opens up the door to the Ardonagh Group and you can gain lots of different types of experience.
This is something that’s core to what we do in the group. I see a failure is if someone moves laterally – if you leave me to step up I’m genuinely happy for you.
We work hard, but we play hard too.
Phelim: Some really great insights into Carole Nash there. We can’t not mention Covid-19…how has it impacted Carole Nash and what have been the biggest challenges so far?
Colm: On the customer side our contact strategy changed and we adopted different engagement methods, which for a business who weren’t online or digital was quite a challenge. 95% of our contact with customers is on the phone.
We also had to get everyone working remotely, which we achieved over the course of 3 weeks. Like many other businesses out there we need to be fully remote, and overall had to achieve it without causing customer disruption. It was a challenge but we got there!
The other key challenge was to do more with the people side. What was a ‘temporary’ move has now become a lot more permanent. We’ve ensured that our team is set up better for working from home. We’ve worked hard to ensure we’ve kept engaged with everyone and overall we have to be more understanding. For some WFH is great, but for others it’s tough. Where we can we do little things, for example I can’t bring someone out for lunch these days so instead we’ll send a ‘JustEat’ voucher to at least still give the goodwill.
Phelim: How do you feel the ongoing pandemic is going to impact the insurance industry in the future?
Colm: I’d like to hope it’ll have big but positive changes. Unexpected occurrences are the biggest source of Innovation opportunities, so we have to take the positive from COVID In that respect. It’s had a huge impact on the employment angle: I now have people working for me who could never have worked for me before. My team are now based all over Ireland. Your pool of talent has gone from predominantly the Dublin commuter belt, to now wherever the tax restrictions allow.
Traditionally insurers and brokers have talked about how they think people want to hear from them and designed their processes and distribution methods around this, which is a complete falsehood. This pandemic has given us all the opportunity to rethink about how the customer actually wants to hear from us and what they want to buy. Some companies will adapt and take advantage, others won’t and will fall behind. I think that’s only a good thing.
Despite the tragic loss of life and the huge impact it has had on so many people. I think it will be good from a business perspective for the Industry …disruption is the biggest driver for change.
Watch this space for part four of this blog series where Colm shares some of his best career insights and advice when it comes to navigating a career in insurance.
To read the previous editions of this blog series click on the links below.
Phelim Murray is a Senior Associate with Barden’s Financial Services Firm. He is an expert in insurance recruitment and having trained in insurance himself he brings an experienced and unique perspective to building a career in insurance.
To discuss your insurance and or underwriting career, and what directions you can take, drop Phelim an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll take it from there. Simple.