Financial Services

Insurer plans to go on recruitment drive as MD says his business has now turned the corner

Chris Booth, Managing Director, One Life Insurance Group.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: January 22, 2021 | Updated: 23rd January 2021

A Dorset insurer is planning to quadruple the number of its advisors – from five to 20 – this year.

Christchurch-based One Life Insurance Group is also looking to take on extra support staff, including HR and marketing, as it seeks to expand its existing team.

Chris Booth, Managing Director, said that after a year which had been “as tough as it can be” his business had turned the corner.

“We’re in a very different place and I’m excited and confident about the future,” he said.

“We’re taking on two new staff in the next few weeks and I know there are a lot of good people available in Christchurch, New Milton and Highcliffe.

“There are currently ten of us but we’re planning to treble this, including support staff, to 30 by the end of 2021.”

The 38-year-old father of two launched One Life with his old school friend, and business partner, Raymond Kidd just over a year ago.

He previously worked for insurers RIAS and Castle Cover – both owned by Ageas – as well as Bournemouth-based Protect Line.

One Life got off to a rocky start after various leads failed to materialise, forcing Chris to halve his eight-strong team.

The arrival of Covid-19, and the first lockdown in March last year, caused further turmoil with One Life beset by technical issues as staff worked from home.

Data providers pulled out and the business suffered many days of downtime.

Chris, right, with his One Life team (left to right) Matthew Colson, Laurence Ainley, Katie Bryant and Amir Saghalati.

But in the last four months the insurer – which offers policies covering family, mortgage, income protection, over 50’s, funeral plans, critical illness, home and life insurance – has seen its customers more than double, from 300 to 800.

New customers are now joining at the rate of 30 a week, said Chris.

The business works closely with all the big providers including Scottish Widows, Aegon, Royal London, LV=, Aviva, Vitality and National Friendly.

One Life is also now directly authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), described as “a real milestone” by Chris.

He said: “It means our team of financial advisors are able to assist through every stage of the protection journey.

“From an initial assessment of protection needs through to completing trust deeds and making sure that every penny of cover gets to our customer’s loved ones in a timely fashion.

“As we’re now directly authorised and regulated by the FCA, we no longer belong to a network which means we can do our own advertising and put in place our own systems and processes.

“It took us eight months but marks a real milestone as we’re now masters of our own destiny with the benefit of having the ultimate badge of trust with the FCA.”

Chris, who lives in Christchurch, is married to Kayleigh, 34, and has two children, Mikey, ten, and Summer, six.

Kayleigh, pictured left, has now joined One Life as Business Manager.

After years of yearning to run his own business, Chris said the reality had come as something of a shock and was a constant learning experience.

He said: “I’d never been a Managing Director but, instead, run call centres.

“You have to make your own way as MD, sometimes stumbling from decision to decision.

“Everyone tells you they’re doing well but you never get to the real truth.

“I went from a comfortable living and salary to starting with nothing and it’s been tough.

“As with all of us, we’re living in a world that no-one has ever seen before.

“But I count my blessings and feel we’re in a good place now.

“The guys here have been amazing and we have a fantastic panel of underwriters in place.

“I’m keen to form more partnerships with partners such as accountants, estate agents and other like-minded businesses.

“I’d also like to help local charities as we become a real part of the Christchurch community.”

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