For 110 years, NFU Mutual has put the interests of our members at the heart of everything we do. Today, that century old commitment remains, with a firm focus on how we can help make life better for people, today and in the years to come. We caught up with Ade Harrison, to hear about his role as Head of Pricing Development, his career background and how balancing accuracy with values is essential to Pricing. We also find out what he’s looking for in any Pricing professionals looking to join his growing team.
Can you tell us a bit about you, your career journey so far?
When I left University, I wanted to change the world and I’ve always known that I wanted to help people. Back then, I worked in biomedical science, for a prosthetics company who were using cool, innovative technology to create their prosthetics. The company was eventually bought out and I was made redundant. So, I joined a graduate scheme working in Pricing with a large high street bank and got into insurance from there.
Over the years I’ve undertaken several roles, heading up the Pricing function in the online aggregator space for corporate firms. It can be a cutthroat world, and all about managing huge data sets and tight margins. The 'race to the bottom on price' approach of that world just didn’t sit well with me morally. I found the true, member-focused approach of NFU Mutual massively refreshing.
What is Pricing and Pricing Development?
Pricing is essentially predicting the fortunes of the business. We make assessments about the costs of claims, and balance that with the types of people we want to do business with and the costs of running the business. My role is to bring my practical experience working in the online, aggregator space and some of that Pricing sophistication into developing what we do at the Mutual. So that we can increase accuracy and deliver fair prices to our members, old and new.
It’s all about applying technology and statistical methodology in the right way, while constantly looking to improve, so we have an infrastructure that works quickly and helps analysts get to the right answer. As a society we’re living in difficult economic times, and it’s arguably more important now than ever to help our members however we can, whenever we can. Fair Pricing is key to that.
How is Pricing evolving?
Being a mutual is much more about what insurance started out to be in the beginning. Done correctly, it’s about pooling resources for the equitable benefit to all. Technology and data advancements help us with accuracy, and is absolutely needed to enhance our customer experience, but it’ll never replace the person here.
An excellent Pricing person will be able to take data and paint a picture of what that data means, but it then it takes an equally excellent operator with lived human experience to complete that picture. For example, our equine insurance underwriting team, which has over a decade of experience, can look at a photo of a horse and tell you exactly which breed of horse it is, it’s age, height – everything you need to know to make an accurate judgement.
We’ve been doing machine learning to understand our products better, but you can’t exploit the benefits of machine learning without ten years’ human experience. This is a great opportunity to use technology to enhance what we already do well and continuously improve now and in the future.
Domain expertise within our Agency Network and regional underwriting teams allow for our pricing to be continuously improved, and as we develop towards new segments in the commercial market the need to balance the science with the expertise on the ground, you cannot succeed without collaboration.
How important are NFU Mutual’s values to Pricing?
Our values are central to every decision. It sounds clichéd, but everything we do every day has the customer at the heart. Our Pricing makes a fundamental difference to people’s lives and livelihoods, so we need to balance fair and accurate Pricing with value, and be honest about what's possible. We may not be the cheapest, but we don’t overspend, and we always go further to provide a true and personal service. And we’re fortunate at NFU Mutual to have high member loyalty, so we know that staying true to our values and principles works.
What are your aspirations for the future?
Looking forward, we need to ensure that we continue to meet our customers’ needs and provide accessible online tools to connect with us and access our services digitally. And from an infrastructure point of view, we need to make our business as efficient as possible. Accuracy and efficiency mean that we know we’re spending membership money in the right way. It’s about doing the right thing, every time we make a payment, arrange a purchase order, or send out an invoice. And investing the right way in the future, in technology, our people and our members for mutual benefit.
What kind of people would you like to join you in Pricing?
We need values driven people who are open, honest, and passionate about doing the right thing by others. Good Pricing people are also endlessly curious and love solving problems. We invest heavily in technology, but also in developing our people. So if you have the right values, we can support you to gain the right skills. We encourage people to design their own personal development plan based on their individual goals. There are so many opportunities for progression, from apprenticeships in Data Science to professional qualifications to become an actuary. It really is down to the individual to share with us where you want to go, and we’ll support you to get there.
What would you say to someone thinking of applying?
It’s an exciting time to join NFU Mutual, as the Pricing team grows, and we develop the infrastructures to help keep our business fit for the future. There’s a huge focus on personal development, and we offer hybrid working, with an expectation of one day in the office per week, so there’s a great work life balance. Culturally, this is such a supportive environment and it’s the opportunity to be part of a purpose driven organisation with care for people at its heart.