Tommy Ashdown: Insurance is all about relationships

A mother and baby company in Hong Kong may not seem the usual route into insurtech, but that was the starting point for DFP’s Business Development Manager Tommy Ashdown. As part of his business management degree at Sheffield Hallam University, he interned at the Hong Kong start-up for a year – nominally in sales but with exposure to marketing, operations and finance as well. 

Speaking from his home in Guildford, Tommy, 29, says he learnt a lot about the importance of collaboration and relationships during his internship and he went on to leverage his network developed in Hong Kong when getting his first full time job within Banking & Insurance recruitment in London in 2014. 

Solid foundations

After a three year spell in recruitment, Tommy transitioned into his first SAAS sales position selling a corporate responsibility platform to FTSE 500 firms. This knowledge of software combined with his business learnings from his time in recruitment and in Hong Kong proved suitable for his move to DFP in 2018. He is now backing up his sales experience with a Certificate in Insurance from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) – partly because of a serendipitous meeting with the CII’s professional standards director Melissa Collett at the Insure Tech Connect conference in Las Vegas in 2019. She talked to him about the profession– encouraging him to learn more.

“Insurance is one of the oldest, most traditional markets in the world and it’s fascinating how the foundations are still in use today. The modules selected include an in depth overview of insurance and the regulatory framework that affect it in the UK, an introduction to risk management and the fundamentals of insurance broking. The latter in particular has really helped support my knowledge when working with clients to build our latest product, Broker Profile.

Targeted data

Tommy understands that both the sales and insurance industries are relationship driven. “What we’re trying to do at DFP is enhance those relationships using data. Our focus was always around SMEs where there’s a big issue around underinsurance. What has changed is we now actively work with clients and experts to understand where that data generates most value.”

As DFP grows, with more tech and underwriting experts joining the team, Tommy is now the longest serving member. He will be integral to the success of the newly launched Broker Profile campaign. 

“Our Broker Profile tool is really exciting,” says Tommy. “We use data from over 3,000 UK brokers, segmented into data streams for brokers and MGAs. We have already supported clients in identifying new distribution partners that fit their specific needs and also in finding upsell opportunities with existing broker relationships. This real time data and insights is becoming increasingly valuable within a competitive landscape.”

“We create models around areas we know are important – for example, growth of a business, the ability to trade online, a data point we call digital savviness that is becoming increasingly important, and other key areas like turnover and compliance maturity. These are all themes clients and our insurance experts have told us are important.”

Out and about

Broker Profile’s latest improvements allow marketing teams to export this data and use it to communicate with the most suitable brokers. “It’s extremely easy to use. The filtering process means that within a couple of clicks you can pull up a list of a hundred targeted brokers that you can distribute to your teams.”

Post-pandemic, Tommy is looking forward to getting back out there and sharing all these innovations – and maybe having a pint or two. “I’m keen to get out and see everyone. Whilst Covid has obviously disrupted the market, it feels like everyone across the industry adjusted quickly and have been open to having conversations online. That said, it will be great to be back in London later in the year to meet people face to face both professionally and socially.”