Our regional underwriting support teams are the ones who make sure our underwriters have all the skills and support they need to ensure we provide the excellent customer service we’re known for. We spoke to some of them about the different services they provide, the importance of what they do and what makes their work so enjoyable.

It sounds like there are various support teams. So, how do you all support the underwriters?
“In the Operational Support team, we work with all the other departments,” says Dave Leat, a Regional Team Leader who manages the teams in Bristol and York. “We’re a highly responsive national team who provide vital support to the underwriters by covering everything from admin and receptionist duties to health and safety and facilities. We also do some of the renewal preparation work, which the underwriters traditionally did themselves. Our role is all about keeping everything running smoothly so that as a business, we can provide a great service and keep our customers happy.”

Alex Baker, a Policy Validation Officer in our Bristol office, explains how his team works: “We’re the gatekeepers. We’re responsible for identifying, assessing and making decisions about whether there is any fraud associated with a policy held with us. We receive information from either the Underwriters, or via an alert on our system to let us know if there’s a concern about activity on a policy or with information provided by a client. Investigation skills are key as we assess whether the activity is a simple mistake or fraudulent activity and make recommendations on what action to take. This ranges from no need to anything to cancelling the policy.”

“As the Quality Assurance (QA) team, we’re responsible for ensuring we meet the high standards our customers expect,” says Meg Rowarth, a QA underwriter. “We’re a national team of 14 people, who maintain standards across all parts of the business by providing insight and feedback to our Underwriters. We drive consistency across the business and the NFU Mutual Agency Network by reviewing complex, information, looking at trends in the teams and making any corrections to Underwriter’s work where necessary. As a manager, I support my team to provide coaching for Underwriters and build strong relationships with our colleagues across the business and the Agency Network.”

That’s quite a variety of work! What do you enjoy most about it?
“In Operational Support, we’re involved in so many different roles that every day’s different,” says Dave Leat. “And this variety enables the team to gain momentum and learn new skills. The team’s very supportive, too. They might be working on a tough project, but when it comes to fruition, it’s more rewarding because they achieved a positive outcome as a team. As a leader, I share in the glory of seeing the team succeed.”

“I really enjoy the investigative side of my work. When you find something after really going into the detail, it’s very rewarding,” says Alex, adding: “I’ve never considered a career in law, but I imagine it’s very similar.” He also says it’s about the people in his team. “We’re in regional teams – seven in Bristol, nine in York and one in Glasgow. But we work hard and are always helping each other.” Dave Reed, a Regional Team Leader in Policy Validation, agrees: “The high point for me is working with such wonderful people, developing them, and bringing things together with other teams. We work as a group and have regular catchups with different teams. So, we’re one coherent group, even though we’re spread across the country. And it’s always rewarding when you get something over the line.”

“For me, it’s the opportunities I have in different areas,” says Meg. “Working in QA has given me the chance to work with Head Office and the technical underwriter managers, as well as the underwriters themselves. And when you see underwriters actually start to trust you and understand that you can help them out, that’s very rewarding.” She adds that it’s a nice team to join, too: “It’s the most positive team I’ve ever worked in, and we have a great laugh with each other.”

It seems like a very positive work culture – is it?
Meg says there’s a very honest and open culture in the QA team. “It’s a very close-knit and supportive team,” she explains. “We work together to make this a great place to work.”

Dave Reed explains his team is the same: “Our team culture is very open, with no blame. We all learn from any mistakes, so we encourage people to talk about where things may not have gone to plan, because we always aim to improve. We’re always looking at ways to do things better, so there are lots of positive changes. And the team get on and support each other, which is just the culture at NFU Mutual.

Alex agrees, citing the team’s openness about issues such as mental health. “We’ve looked at the different ways people work best. Some might prefer to be quiet and methodical, with everything written down. While others – like me – are louder and prefer to take everything in at once. So, we try to accommodate every approach. There’s a good team spirit.” Dave Leat describes his team as “professional but relaxed in the right areas. NFU Mutual brings out the best in you because you’re encouraged to look at things with fresh eyes. There’s nothing hierarchical about the business. There are no separate offices, so you can go and talk to anyone, which enables you to build relationships and develop strong interactions. That helps us all come together as one strong team. As a leadership team, we get together too, so you get a feel for what other work is taking place.”

It sounds like a great place to work.
“It is,” says Meg. “And that’s a lot to do with the people. I was on the leadership programme last year and people were always happy to help. And the company really drives your development. For example, if you’re interested in working in another department, you’re encouraged to spend time there to see what it’s like. Talking to my friends outside of work, I get the impression it’s not the same in other organisations.”

“Yes, it’s a diverse group of people and you’re just accepted for who you are,” adds Alex. “You don’t feel judged at all. We all just accept each other. I know that if I’ve got a question, I can just turn to any of my colleagues, and they’ll help me out if they can. And because of those relationships, you get introduced to different people across the business, which is always a help if you decide to make a career change.”

Dave Reed says the quality of the people is down to the way NFU Mutual recruits. “We look for people who are aligned to us,” he says. “And being a mutual matter a lot, too, so we look for people who understand the difference that makes. When I interview people, it definitely does attract some of them – they see it as being more ethical.”

Dave Leat agrees: “I’ve been here 15 years and I think being a mutual gives it a professional, but more relaxed atmosphere. There’s nothing worse than being micromanaged and you’re not here, because you’re trusted to do the job. It gives you a real sense of personal pride.”

What next? It’s up to you.
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