26 May 2020
Tell us about your role and how long you’ve worked for FirstPort
I’m Liza Amies, and I am Head of Insurance for FirstPort Insurance Services Limited (FISL). I’ve been with the company for 11 months. FISL is unique in the group structure, we are wholly independent, we are also a regulated entity falling under the remit of the Financial Conduct Authority. Our role is to review the insurance market, working with insurers to ensure that our client and their residents have comprehensive insurance cover in place at competitive premium rates.
What do you do in the first hour after you wake up?
Mentally prepare for the day – I’m lucky in that I live across the water on the Isle of Wight, so part of my morning is spent on a boat, some days that is not such an enjoyable experience, but mostly it is lovely watching the sun come up, reflecting on the water. I use this time to prioritise my day so that once I’m in the office I can spend time with the team, checking how they are and then setting out the day’s agenda with them.
What you like most about your job?
There is so much variety in the role; insurance isn’t as boring as people think, or is it only people that work in insurance who think that? I know it’s a cliché, but the FISL team is fantastic, all very committed to what they do. The team deal with a diverse client base and it’s great to listen to their calls, especially those with the retirement residents as there is such empathy and caring in how each call is handled. I’m very lucky as I have a team that is embracing change, I only took on the role in December last year and since then we’ve embarked on a significant change journey which has reinvigorated the team and really brought us together.
What challenges do you face?
There are many challenges now, with the pandemic it is hard to keep the morale of the team up, especially when they have not worked remotely before. Our change journey has also been impacted by the pandemic so trying to keep the focus on that has been difficult in recent weeks. Our biggest challenge though is that since the end of 2019 we’ve been experiencing a ‘hard’ insurance market, this hasn’t been the case since the early 2000s and it means it’s been very difficult to get competitive insurance premiums, so we have a difficult period ahead of us for the renewals.
What led you to take this opportunity?
I’ve spent my career in general insurance working for some of the biggest insurers in the global market. It’s been refreshing dealing in a different aspect of the insurance industry and working for a client and their interests.
What is your greatest achievement?
I have many achievements that I am proud of in my career, from being headhunted to a senior role at a leading global insurer, to writing a global policy and multi-lingual training programme that over 40 countries had to comply with. But one of the most recent is seeing the FISL team embrace change and ask the question ‘why?’. I know the team got rather frustrated with me asking that question when I started with the company, particularly when I would not accept the response, ‘because that’s how we’ve always done it’. At the conference last year one of the questions posed was what will you do differently next year, and one of the team wrote down she’d ask ‘why?’. To be able to empower the team to challenge and not accept the status quo, to let them try and sometimes fail but to have their back no matter what is just so important as this is how we move forward and improve.
Who is your inspiration?
Early in my career I was very fortunate to work for Guy Munnoch, you may not know of Guy if you’ve not worked in the insurance industry but he really is remarkable individual, a great leader who doesn’t just know your name, but knows about you, your goals and your family. To this day he inspires me with all that he does, not just his extensive careers in the military and financial services but also his many endurance activities be it from climbing Everest, to walking to both ‘poles’ or more recently being part of the fastest and oldest team to row across the Atlantic – The Ancient Marines.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
My godchildren and my nieces, as well as the dog.
What personal goal have you set yourself this year?
To keep a sense of humour and my sanity in what are challenging times
What is one thing that people may not know about you?
I’m a crack shot – not so much with the clay pigeon, but great on a rifle range