In this edition of Meet The Team we talk to Charlotte Blick, Private Clients Account Handler at Footman James. Charlotte talks to us about what it’s like to try and buy a house in lockdown, continually losing at Monopoly - and why insurance can ruin a good view…
FJ: Hi Charlotte! How are things now you are back in the office? Are things very different?
C: It’s eerily quiet - I’m used to a busy, fast paced environment; gone are the days of doing tea rounds! It’s really lovely to see faces I haven’t seen in months, and have a catchup with the team. The move to home meant that it’s now a seamless transition when I’m in the office; other than the social distancing rules, I can’t say much else has changed!
FJ: How did COVID-19 effect your working environment?
C: It meant that I needed to work from home for 5 months… I have been back in the office for the last 2 weeks, and going forward I’ll only be in the office 2 days a week to help balance staff levels. My biggest challenge is trying to keep all my work electronic, I’m a paper person and like to physically have something in my hands. I have missed being around my colleagues and will now have those days to look forward to when I’m at HQ!
FJ: What sort of Private Client accounts do you handle?
C: I focus on high net worth clients. Typically someone will come to me with a big or an unusual risk, like an art collection, or a car collection, and then I’ll get under the skin not just of that risk but all their other insurance needs, and then package it all up and build a quote to put everything in one place. I’ve got a wide range of insurers to go to, with bespoke rates and wordings. Lots of insurers actually like to take on big portfolios because it means they can get a really good picture of a client, their behaviour, and how much they take care of and value the things they’re insuring.
FJ: Tell us about some of the things you’ve insured!
C: Oh all sorts! Every day is very different. And I’ve had to learn a lot about cars – and do a lot of training with insurers about what they’re looking out for and what they need to know. I’ve done race cars, Aston Martin collections, hyper-cars – so Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis, a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (my ultimate favourite classic car), an aeroplane engine, boats, yachts, horseboxes, wine collections, some famous paintings and some very very nice properties
FJ: How has coronavirus impacted your clients?
C: In March things got really busy, and we were taking a lot of calls, direct from clients or through solicitors, accountants and brokers, with people checking their cover and terms and looking to consolidate or save. I think people were being cautious because they didn’t know what the impact was going to be on their businesses and finances. Now things seem to have settled down and gone back to something approaching normal.
FJ: What’s the best thing about your job?
C: I get to go to lots of events, which I really enjoy. It’s brilliant to wander around and see some of these amazing vehicles and get chatting with owners and other enthusiasts. It’s a great way to meet potential clients.
Basically what I love is getting a glimpse into other people’s lives. You get to hear about some amazing cars and amazing collections. A lot of the time the amount of money you’re talking about just doesn’t feel real – one McLaren F1 can be worth tens of millions of pounds for instance. At first, it used to make me feel really nervous, but I’ve got used to it now.
FJ: Are there bits of the job you like less?
C: It can be stressful. I’ve had to learn to go into microscopic detail about each client’s risk so I’m ready to present it properly and answer any questions – and I always have a back-up plan! If I can’t get it placed first time round I’ve always got an option B in my back pocket. I think mostly it’s just that you learn what works. I actually started off in the personal lines sales team 6 and a half years ago insuring individual classic cars, and then moved to the multi-vehicle team before coming to the Private Clients team, and all that experience has set me in good stead to do what I do now.
FJ: What do your friends think you do all day?
C: They think I spend a lot of time schmoozing at big car shows or talking about big fast cars!
FJ: What do you REALLY do all day?
C: Well I DO talk about cars a lot, but actually there’s far more that goes on behind the scenes - all the calculations, number crunching, analysis, and building the pitch to underwriters. The supercars are exciting – but in reality, the job can also make me a bit boring! I was on a socially distanced walk with a friend the other day and she was admiring some fancy cottages in a valley. I told her the flood risk looked insane. She just rolled her eyes and told me I was spoiling another good view!
FJ: Apart from long walks in the country, what else have you enjoyed doing since lockdown measures have eased slightly?
C: I’ve now started renovations on my house and have been able to get contractors in after a very long wait, hopefully it’ll be finished soon! I also don’t think I’ll be the first to say I’ve enjoyed having an ice cold G&T somewhere other than my garden!