Portsmouth based insurance brokers Philip Gibbs join Shaping

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It is with the greatest of pleasure that we welcome Philip Gibbs, a Portsmouth based Insurance Broker, as a Shaping Portsmouth Associate Sponsor.

Shaping Director Stef Nienaltowski met with Lisa Gibbs, their New Business Executive, and discussed the Company and why they want to partner with Shaping Portsmouth.

They have been in Portsmouth for many years and have built up their business based on a world class service and a very high level of experience.

A family owned and employee valued business, one that Portsmouth should be proud of, and with whom we are looking forward to working with in the coming years.

Stef Nienaltowski: Good morning, I'm sat with Lisa Gibbs, the New Business Executive of the firm Philip Gibbs Insurance Brokers. Good morning Lisa.

Lisa Gibbs: Morning Stef.

SN: Lisa, welcome to the partnership, and I wonder if you can start by telling me a bit about Philip Gibbs Insurance Brokers, how it got started, and what are the main offers you offer to the market?

LG: Ok, well, it started over 30 years ago with my dad Phil working at another brokerage, and my mum Sally working at General Accident in Portsmouth. They wanted to start their own business, and the brokerage dad was working for at the time decided they didn't want to keep their commercial book of business anymore, so they sold it to him. So, my parents went and started their own brokerage, and they've continued ever since. Then I joined the business a couple of years ago. So, we arrange commercial insurance for businesses large and small, from start-ups to larger SMEs with £50m turnovers, and we have very good relationships with a wide range of A-rated insurers. We can be really flexible, insuring sailing clubs, factories, offices, fleets of vehicles, you name it we've probably done it over the years. We can even insure the weird and wonderful, like the giant dinosaur sculpture on Southsea Common in 2010...

SN: really?

LG: Yeah, or a submarine hatch travelling to the Naval Base, or big public events like Navy days.

SN: Wow! Wow, wow, wow. I've had the pleasure now of meeting you for the fourth time, and this is the second visit here to the company. From what I see, it's very much a family company. Is that true, and how does that benefit you, and your employees, and your clients?

LG: Yes, we're very much a family business. There's 6 of us, and if you include Archie the office dog that's 7! He's very much part of the team, and he has his own area of the office. I think being family run gives the business stability. We can talk openly and honestly about our policies and goals, and generally we're on the same page about what we want to achieve, so I think this helps us move forward and get things done. For our employees, we're a close team, we know each other really well, and spend time together on days out, and at the Chartered Insurance Institute events like the annual dinner and the quiz. We have quite a strong moral compass in our family, and I think this reflects in our business practises. So, we look after our employees and our clients as if they were one of our own. We would never recommend or arrange an insurance product that we wouldn't want for ourselves.

SN: And you do get that impression here, including Archie who I did stroke just now, so hopefully I'm in his good books. So, interestingly, because if we move from that sort of family question, it is a business, and it has to be a business that is successful, so what would you say separates you from other companies in your space?

LG: Well, this year the most noticeable thing that separates us is our new business support services which we've just launched, and are really excited about. It's a portal that our clients can log in to, and access over 2,000 resources that will help them run their business. So, all kinds of things are in there like policy templates for health & safety and data protection, there's a really comprehensive driver handbook, there's a business continuity planning and guide, disaster recovery plans, data breach response plans, also lots of guides for start-up businesses, so how to manage their cash flow, and write their own business plans, and there's also loads of employee training material, so there are ready made PowerPoint presentations for business owners to train their staff in health & safety.

There's also posters for them to put up in their workshops, their offices, their factories for their staff, and there's also training materials for cyber risks, training staff how to recognise phishing emails and scams online, and there's also plenty of training manuals for health & safety that are specific to their industry. The content is really impressive, and there'll be more information about that on our website very soon. The reason we've introduced it, is because we know how long business owners spend searching for these kinds of resources online, and they quite often end up paying a small fortune for all the policy templates and procedures that they need. Or, they don't have risk assessments, and business plans, and policies for those reasons. Also, the added value services are really important to us, and to business owners as well. We want our clients to feel looked after, and comfortable with the insurance arrangements they've made.

We don't want to be just a tool that they use every year to arrange their insurance, we want to be more valuable to them and build a relationship. Even before adding the client portal this year, we've always tried to go the extra mile by being more involved and supportive of our clients' claims. We do all the required reporting to the insurer on the clients behalf. If there's been a serious fire or flood for example, we go and see the client to offer our support. I know from personal experience that these events can be really stressful. You spend the first few hours running around in a state of panic. Our clients know they can call us, and we will get down there to support them and tell them what they need to do next.

SN: I made the observation just now, that goes way beyond my branding of an insurance company, and that's possibly my naiveté, but that's an incredible set of value-adds, and they must be very welcomed by your client set.

LG: Yes.

SN: Yeah, not surprised, and actually just to pick up on one thing there. We've talked about the family company, we've talked about these added values, if you don't mind me quoting from your website, it says you offer "face-to-face meetings. You can feel confident our services will meet your every requirement". Now, that must be pretty unique in today's world, of the virtual world of 'click' and the faceless organisation that go through. So, how is that face-to-face working?

LG: Really well. People are usually quite surprised when we ask to meet them, and come and visit them, they're quite surprised, but that's another benefit of being a local broker and why we like to have local clients, so we can actually go and see them. People are so used to dealing with a voice at the end of the phone, and it can be a different person each time, whereas our clients deal with the same account handler here. Like you said, it could just be 'click click click' but we like to have that face-to-face value. So, some clients are pleasantly surprised when we ask to come and visit, but others are so busy, they just want to get their insurance done and dusted, over the phone or online, which is fine if it's suitable to their situation. But quite often, we want to go and see the premises, see their processes, see the stock they hold, and see their equipment. It saves us asking a hundred questions over the phone, and then ending up frustrating the client.

And it protects them, because on our visit, we might see something that the client might forget about on the phone, or not realise it's something we need to know about. They might have a wood-burner on the premises for example, which is something the insurance company needs to know, because the rules are different for commercial insurance. It's actually up to the business to present all the material facts to the insurer, whereas the consumer products like your house or your car, it's down to the insurance company to ask the right questions and obtain the information they want. So, we pay real attention to detail when we're putting a client's presentation together.

SN: And, in listening to you, and observing what we've talked about in terms of family company, I bet you've got a great retention of staff here as well, haven't you?

LG: Yes, yes our staff have been here for years and years and years. They've all got tonnes of experience between them. My parents have been in the business for over 30 years, we've got another lady here who's had over 40 years’ experience, another lady who again is 30 years’ experience, so we all know what we're doing.

SN: There's no substitute for that is there, and it's obvious, and the passion is great. So, listen, the time's almost run out, but there is one more question I'd like to ask, because we have just welcomed you as an Associate Partner of Shaping, I am delighted that you've come on board as that, and I'm looking forward to it. What would you, and therefore Philip Gibbs Insurance Brokers, like to get out of the new partnership?

LG: Well, first Shaping Portsmouth runs great programmes which will benefit the City enormously, so if we can support that, then that's wonderful. Also, we want to build up our network, to talk to more businesses about their cyber-risks in particular, and the cyber-insurance that's available to protect them. It's a relatively new insurance product, and lots of businesses still haven't heard of it, or don't really know what it covers. We think it's an insurance that SMEs shouldn't be without. It's so important, particularly if they have a cyber event that involves a data breach, the costs can go into hundreds of thousands, and some businesses just can't recover from that. So, we're collaborating with a local IT company at the moment, who run a series of seminars for SMEs called 'The Actual Cost of a Cyber Attack', and we'll be explaining the costs involved with real examples, so look out for that on Eventbrite. There's something else we hope to do more of is collaborating with other businesses. We also want to keep things local; the aim of commercial insurance is to protect businesses, and help them recover if the worst should happen, so as it's our home town, Portsmouth, we'd much rather be protecting businesses here than businesses across the country somewhere.

SN: Fantastic! Lisa, thank you again, great to catch up with you again, and we look forward to working with you this year.

LG: Thank you Stef.

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