Gaining Momentum: Sentio Insurance.
With more than 150 years’ combined experience in insurance and risk management, Sentio Insurance Brokers is made up of professionals who have held senior roles in major global brokers.
Founded by Richard Waltier and Caroline Fairclough, the business now has offices in Birmingham, Worcestershire, and Dudley
Name: Richard Waltier
Title: Director of Sentio Insurance Brokers
What attracted you to becoming an insurance broker?
Firstly, it was a natural progression for me because for the past 30 years I’ve been working at a corporate level in the area of risk and insurance, so I developed a knowledge of the industry.
Secondly, in terms of why we set up Sentio Insurance Brokers, we saw there was a gap in the market.
Many SME brokers understand insurance but not always the wider context of risk. We saw the opportunity to bring corporate expertise with the management of risk and insurance into the SME sector.
Why did you choose to partner with Momentum?
This was an easy choice. Partnering with Momentum enables us to do what’s most important and that’s to focus on and support our clients. Momentum provides a framework for us to achieve this and they provide key functions such as broking support, compliance, client money handling and marketing.
What was the biggest challenge in your first year?
Enough hours in the day – creating awareness of the company on a local level and generating income. Also, from an operational point of view, managing cash flow and the usual day-to-day business issues.
What advice would you give to anybody who is thinking about starting a brokerage?
Believe in yourself. It is possible so go for it, but at the same time, get the fundamentals right. You need to plan and prepare. It’s very hard at the start and requires staying power and determination.
What’s the best thing about being a Momentum Partner Broker?
The support you get and being part of a team. Always remember that the team is better than the individual!
What do you think makes you successful?
It’s a combination of factors. The meaning of Sentio is ‘to understand’ and that’s what we do with our clients. We understand them, their businesses, the sectors that they specialise in and the environment in which they work. By achieving this, we get a good understanding of the exposures they face and we know how to mitigate them.
Coupled with this we have a great team, Without them, we would be nowhere.
If you could start again, what would you change?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I have learnt many lessons. However, one important consideration is relationships and trust. If you go into business with somebody else, it’s absolutely vital to make sure that you trust them (and they you) and they operate in a complimentary way and share the same values as you. In Caroline I have a great business partner, however, in a former business, I worked with somebody who didn’t live by those same values and learnt a hard lesson.
Where do you see you and your company in five years’ time?
I expect Sentio and Ability Drive to have developed significantly across a number of areas. If I had to put some numbers to that, I would expect us to have achieved £10 million of GWP with a headcount of more than 30 staff across a number of areas and locations.
I would also hope that Ability Drive is a nationally recognised business in five years’ time within its sector.
What is Ability Drive?
Ability Drive is a company that provides bespoke motor insurance for disabled drivers.
Why did we you set up Ability Drive?
It’s an area that I’m personally passionate about, having a son with a disability, and the challenges he and those with disability face, which many able-bodied people take for granted and don’t understand.
I have colleagues with similar first-hand experience of disability, so we developed a relationship with a company called Specialist Vehicle Rental who provide adapted vehicles for those with disabilities and they are equally passionate about providing support. It seemed a good partnership for us and therefore we collaborated and set up Ability Drive.
As the business grows we also hope, as an equal opportunities employer, to provide those with a disability the chance to come and work with us within the sector.
Why should disabled drivers consider using Ability Drive to help them with their insurance?
We have a bespoke motor insurance policy designed to meet the needs of the disabled driver, which is far superior to a standard motor policy.
A couple of examples of this are the policy will provide cover for wheelchairs and mobility aids within the vehicle or the repair and replacement of adaptions to the vehicle are damaged, which a standard motor insurance policy will not.
Who is your inspiration and why?
First and foremost, my own son, Jacob. He has a disability and does not let it get him down, an example to many.
In terms of someone famous, well, there are many well-known names I could say, but here is one many people won’t have heard of – Nando Parrado. He was an Uruguayan rugby player who back in 1972 crashed in the Andes along with his team. After being trapped at the crash site for over two months, and by this stage it was obvious that no help was going to come, he exemplified true survival instinct and single-handedly (along with Roberto Canessa) scaled the Andes to get help to save the surviving group. He showed true determination to overcome disaster and he never gave up.