Peter & Kirsti, a Husband and Wife team based in Battle. Working out of their Office in St Leonards, started the Global group 20 years ago. Here we give you the opportunity to get to know them a little bit better and find out what drives them.
When was Global started and by whom?
Global was started by Peter & Kirsti in November 1999, working from home in their front room. We had a fax machine that would go off at all times because of the time zones. We used to run down to see who had faxed us. The Global group is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Could you tell us a bit about yourselves?
K- I have been married to Peter for 27 years. We have two children Hannela and Dominic. In my spare time I am a polymer clay artist and have recently taken up pottery. I love making ocean based creatures like seahorses and whales.
P- I enjoy Golf, Skiing, Gardening, good food and drink, and I am not a bad cook! My weekends are spent travelling the U.K finding new places to explore with Kirsti and our dog in our Bongo. I have a passion for travelling and want to try and see as much of the world as possible. My two favourite places that I have visited so far are The Bahamas and Scotland.
What did you do before Global Re, What made you pick Insurance as a career?
P - At the start of my career I did a brief spell in an Estate Agency, however quickly changed to Insurance. That was 32 years ago! I think Insurance picked me, it was a choice between Insurance or Accountancy. Insurance was a 5 minute walk down the road to the office, whereas Accountancy was a 30 minute drive. For me it was an easy choice and I have never looked back.
K- I didn’t. I was on a career break having had our two children, who at the time were 3 & 4. We decided that Peter working from home was better for our family, rather than him commuting. I had worked in Receivables Financing so it became a natural step for me to take on a PA role to Peter. I knew from my work in this industry that it was admin generally that let them down when running their own companies. So I took over so that Peter could concentrate on the insurance side of things without being bogged down in admin.
What is your proudest moment since Global started?
P- For me it would have to be starting our own company and seeing it develop into what it is today.
K- I think seeing the companies ups and downs, and then developing into a well respected company with 20 years of experience behind it. We have built an amazing and loyal team around us, who really have been through it with us. I also designed our current Global logo, which I think has stood the test of time.
What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
K- To begin with it was just me and Peter. While he was very adept to his role already, I had to learn on the go. Whilst my background was accounts, I had to learn IT; HR; Web design and marketing. Whilst being Peters PA, I also had to tackle VAT returns, Compliance, Networking (which isn’t easy for a introvert), travel arrangements. Luckily over time I have been able to delegate some of these roles out to other team members.
P- Collecting money from China and Russia. In the end I jumped on a plane and went to see them! I actually ended up visiting Moscow 5 times, and Kirsti managed to come with me the final time.
What made you branch off from Re insurance into Broking?
P- A need from our clients to offer a Broker service. Other business brokers were not offering the service our commercial friends wanted or deserved.
K - The Reinsurance legacy market has been shrinking for a few years now, mainly due to regulation. With our success in clearing so much legacy business from our clients portfolios, we knew we had to be flexible enough to adapt and change in the current climate. We already had the broker and because local contacts were always contacting us about commercial insurance, it became a natural step for us to take.
What changes have you witnessed in the Insurance industry in the last 20 years, and what do you think the Insurance industry will look like in the future?
P- A greater focus on the use of technology, but thankfully what we do will always be about people, which is the part I enjoy the most.
K- Technology has certainly changed the industry and has made things more immediate. With emails taking over from fax machines, everything going into the cloud makes it easier to work from wherever you are in the world from your phone or laptop.
How do you see Global developing in the future?
P- We have great plans to grow our UK Commercial Insurance broking side of our business into the same size as our consultancy company. We are well on our way with this and that is down to the support of our clients, so Thank you!
K- We can really see the broker starting to grow now and anticipate it becoming larger as the years go on.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
P- Think very hard before taking that step. Unfortunately, most new businesses fail in the first 1-3 years. Just because you have a good idea or product and potential customers, doesn’t mean you can turn it into a successful business, that will support you and your family. We have seen so many of our competitors fail over the years. Insurance is a tough industry but so rewarding when you get it right.
K- I would make sure you have a strong network of personal support and at least one business mentor. Try to be as niche as possible but research your area thoroughly. Its easy to get competitors accounts, so get those and see how sustainable your plans are, ie are stock levels reducing and what are your overheads. Don’t try something completely new, but what you already have a background in and develop your skills. Only put into it financially what you are prepared to loose and be prepared to loose it.
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our Directors a little better. If you have any other questions you would like us to put to them, please add them to the comments.