The Commercial Underwriting Principal Accounts team is part of NFU Mutual’s 400-strong Underwriting function. Based in Bristol, York and remotely, they work very closely with the Agents in our UK-wide Agency Network. So, what goes on in their team - and what do they enjoy about working at NFU Mutual? We spoke to some of the team to find out.

What does your team do - and how do you work with the NFU Mutual Agency Network?
Based in Bristol, Tammi Cox has been part of the Principal Accounts team since moving from the Agency Network side of the business just over a year ago. There’s lots of breadth to their work, as Tammi explains. “The big focus of what we do is looking after the larger and sometimes more complex cases, and all of the policies relating to estates.” Yorkshire based Ross Grieve says. “There’s a strong element of trust between our team and the Agent, who is often the person dealing directly with the customer. There’s an expectation placed on us, and they know they can trust us.”

So, what type of customers do you work with?
Talk to anyone in the underwriting team within NFU Mutual and they’ll tell you that the businesses they work with and insure are far more varied in terms of sector than many people think. While we’re probably best known for farming and agriculture, as Tammi explains, there’s been a lot of diversification. “We don’t work with the businesses we insure directly, but with the agencies. They’ll be working with High Net Worth customers, so that could involve a mansion house, an estate, and of course farming, but in areas such as renewables, solar farms and biomass boilers.” Similarly, Ross is finding a difference in the sectors he works with. “It could be anything from the manufacturer of a niche product to someone’s jewellery collection. It can be very niche but always interesting.”

How do you work with other areas of the business - like Head Office, and the Agency Network?
The ties between the Agency network and the Principal Accounts team are strong. Jo Poole is based in York and welcomes the opportunity to work closely together. “We’re certainly not just sitting behind a desk doing renewals, we’re often out and about and visiting the agencies. When we need to, we work just as well on Teams which helps us build and maintain relationships.”

When it comes to Head Office involvement, the team stays in control of the work, as Ross explains. “In terms of interaction with Head Office, they don't take over. The work is still within your control, subject to sign off. So, ownership is retained.” This is how Tammi sees it too. “You still get to do the thinking. Head Office might get involved more to confirm you are on the right train of thought. If your idea is correct and follows how it should be underwritten, they'll encourage you to carry on and just provided their comments for you to use as part of your development.”

How do you see your potential for career development?
Ross describes the impact his line manager has had on his development. “The role I’m in now was a promotion, which I was fully supported and encouraged to apply for. I was told that if the role was something I wanted to do, I should go for it!” Jo tells a similar story. “The leadership team is very supportive towards development. I’ve just had my appraisal and we covered a number of future opportunities.

And one way we build experience is by getting delegated authority status – which is where you get exposure to the next level up in your career. So, when you do apply for a promotion, you’ve already had experience at the relevant level.” And while there is ongoing role specific training there's other training available too, as Tammi discovered. “We have access to training that can broaden your perspective, such as diversity and inclusion training or gender equity. You can also develop your skills through the technical training available.”

What do you enjoy most about the work of Principal Accounts?
For Jo and Tammi, it’s the type of work they both do. Coming from the Agency Network side of the business, Tammi always saw the Principal Accounts team as the team she aspired to join. “I think it’s because we hold some of the higher levels of authority of all the underwriters, a lot of us want to be here. I feel it’s about focusing my skill sets because of the level of work and the time we’re given.” Jo agrees and adds, “The team deals with some of the most complex, interesting cases. The work is very involved. It has real depth which I like.” Like many within NFU Mutual, Ross feels it’s the customers that make the role so rewarding. “We truly have our customers best interests at heart and, as I work so closely with them, I get to know what the policy holders need, which enables me to add great value - and that makes me feel really connected to our customers.”

So, what makes NFU Mutual a great place to work?
For Ross, one of the main draws has always been the culture. “We’re treated with respect. The leadership I've encountered has been pretty much exemplary without question. Everyone's got the interest of the company at heart. I think we all move in the same direction.” Tammi also values the integrity attached to the NFU Mutual brand. “I believe in the products I’m working with. I know what I'm doing is going to result in a good outcome for a customer when they need us. I also value the training we get in areas outside our roles, for example, I’ve become a mental health first aider. This and the career progression we have access to makes me feel very happy and settled.”

Jo values how NFU Mutual has enabled her to have an interesting career while managing her home responsibilities. “I love the job, I love the people, I love the company, I love what it stands for, but I couldn’t manage a big commute. So, the hybrid working, which still enables me to very much a part of the team, has been invaluable.”

Any career development tips for someone new to commercial underwriting?
Tammi has recently encouraged one of her old colleagues from the Agency Network to join the commercial underwriting team and shares the advice she gave. “I said to her just be a sponge, and take in as much as you can, because at NFU Mutual you're the master of your own destiny. Your team leader's going to guide you and help you to reach your goals, but you’re setting the goals. So, you can take in as much or as little as you want. Just be open to the opportunities.”

And Jo agrees, “As someone who’s fairly new to the team, I’d say do all the training that you can possibly get your hands on. The team is always there for you. I know I can get in touch with anybody at any time and they'll help me. “Ross sees the Agency Network and the customer base as a unique opportunity for learning and development at any stage of your career. “Just when you think most of your learning is done in underwriting, you join NFU Mutual, and you start learning again. That’s great for someone new coming in.”

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