A leading broker has taken a long-standing insurance firm to new heights with a fresh approach to business.
Since joining Credent Commercial Insurance in 2016, Niel Jones has increased turnover and staff numbers at the Colwyn Bay firm.
He has big plans for the future, but none bigger than further enhancing Credent’s reputation for high-quality outcomes and customer care, rare traits in one of the most competitive and aggressive finance arenas.
A former head of insurance for the sports and entertainment divisions of a global broking specialist – covering everything from major world music tours to festivals, pop stars, promoters and sports governing bodies – Niel has a 20-year career in the industry.
The 45 year-old is enjoying life as the Managing Director of Credent, one of the most respected organisations in the region, and has installed an ethos of relentless compassion and integrity to ensure the best possible outcome for clients.
That coupled with significant investment in technology and training – and a staggering 161 years of combined experience among his nine-strong team – makes them one of North Wales’ most forward-thinking companies.
“I had previously worked in marketing before joining this sector and rising to head-up the sports and entertainment sides of a large insurance firm, looking after the interests of everyone from the biggest grossing artists in the world through to non-league football,” said Niel, who lives in Hawarden with wife Linda and children Kate, Holly and Ben.
“When that business was sold I decided that was the end of my journey with them, it was time for a fresh start and for me to take the next step and lead my own company.
“After years of travel and long hours I also wanted to spend more time with my family and try to find a better work-life balance, as master of my own destiny.”
Formerly Rhos Insurance, Credent has a long-standing and loyal client base built up by Harry Lloyd Jones, and Susan and Gordon Crabb prior to that.
This was a strong foundation on which to explore new avenues, but Niel quickly found North Wales had vast layers of untapped potential and refocused his approach.
“I wanted to concentrate on niche sectors that I had operated in historically, and emerging areas relating to the digital and knowledge economies.” said Niel.
“In reality – having never worked in North Wales, where I grew up – I think I underestimated how rewarding it was to work with the local business community, and how diverse and innovative it had become.”
“Credent is very much still about general commercial insurance, which is everything from hi-tech specialists pioneering artificial intelligence technologies through to some of the high-risk sectors in contracting, transportation, social welfare and more.
“We work with all industries and try to combine compassion with hard-nosed tenacity. We never give up, we do the best for our customers and it can never be simply about the bottom line, it’s about doing the best job we possibly can.”
This transparent approach has seen Credent forge ties with many of the area’s leading organisations, including Alpine Coaches, Halen Mon, Wirral-based Electricity Solutions, and Pentraeth Motors.
Most importantly, whatever the size of the company, for Niel and his trusted workforce it’s about navigating difficult waters when it comes to making a claim and valuations.
A new app has improved the client experience, but ultimately the personal touch goes further than any innovative advance.
“Insurance broker isn’t a title that really does justice to what we’re doing,” said Niel.
“Yes, we negotiate with insurers to get the best possible deal, and that is an important part of it, but our job is to tailor an insurance programme that’s fit for purpose at the most equitable cost with a reputable insurer.
“You’ve got to be hard-nosed but it’s about trust, they need to know and have the confidence in you that you’ll do that and give the proper advice.
“Again, that comes with experience, sitting down and spending time with the client, understanding their business, the market it operates in and caring about what they care about.”
“Very often we don’t talk about insurance, we talk about the things that keep them awake at night, what their relationships are with their suppliers and their customers, what’s happening in the industry and what the exposures are.
“There is that natural tension when people are looking at their budgets when they are making decisions on what to insure against and you have to have some honest conversations so they get it right. I tell them to put me to task if we don’t deliver on the numbers.
“Insurance policies are big old weighty documents not necessarily designed for easy reading, and if you don’t comply with the terms and conditions there could be problems with claims – it’s our role to make sure they get paid out.”
A graduate of the University of Central Lancashire, Niel has seen many changes over the last two decades, but one thing remains constant, his desire to be among the best, not the biggest.
“It is incredible, the advances that have been made in this industry, and in other industries,” he said.
“Ten years or so years ago, specific policies for digital risks, ransomware, liabilities rising from GDPR, financial crime, intellectual property and so on were virtually unheard of. You have to be at the forefront and anticipate these things where possible.”
“I think I’m relatively ambitious, but I’m not interested in us being the biggest company in the world – you’re looking at life in the wrong way if you think like that.
“I do care about sitting back when I hang up my insurance boots and reflecting on how we did the best we possibly could for our clients.
“We do want to grow and will continue to do so, but not at the expense of what we stand for.”