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Bill Haynes

Perhaps appropriate for someone whose early ambition was to be


Jacques Cousteau, Britannic&#39s marketing chief found himself in deep water


in his first job but now it&#39s all going swimmingly


BYLN: Tracey Boles


TEXT:


For someone who fluf fed his first sales job, Britannic Assurance sales


and marketing director Bill Haynes has come a long way.


His first potential client did not buy anything from him. But these days,


at 38, Haynes sits on the board of Britannic Assurance.


He was a key player in the recent decision to acquire a 75 per cent stake


in Britannia Asset Management and Britannia Life, a deal which took funds


under management to £20bn.


Obviously, his sales technique improved with time.


He says: “I understand what the consumer wants in a financial services


environment – good quality, good value products and an easy means of


communication.”


Over the years, he honed his craft with several financial services


companies. Apart from a stint working on Weston-super-Mare pier as a


youngster, he has always been employed in the sector.


Bristol-born Haynes started out as a financial adviser with Abbey Life in


the late 1970s. Then he set up his own IFA business, which he sold after


four years to a merchant bank.


He moved to Commercial Union where he was responsible for setting up its


direct salesforce in 1986. He was appointed a director in 1990 but two


years later moved to Sun Life as managing director of direct distribution.


While there, he is credited with dramatically increasing the performance


of the salesforce and instigating a programme of cost control which bought


the operation into profit. It got him noticed.


He was headhunted by Britannic in 1997. It saw someone financially


competent who was open to change and who could provide clear leadership in


a difficult transition period.


At Britannic, Haynes has already overseen many changes and describes the


period as one of his biggest challenges because it has involved turning the


tide on 130 years of history.


The life office no longer sees itself as just a home-service operator.


Although it will continue to be dominated by the direct salesforce, it aims


to become multi-distributional with its recently launched IFA channel and


an eye on developing the e-commerce side.


The multi-distribution strategy is one facet of the company highlighted in


Britan nic&#39s ongoing marketing campaign, which features a pair of swans


representing a partnership for life. The ads also focus on Britannic&#39s aim


to deliver “good quality needs-based advice”.


Underpinning this aim is a revamped salesforce. In the last three years,


individual productivity has improved by 170 per cent. Haynes attributes


this to training “enabling them to do the job properly rather than policing


them when they do not”. The training looks at needs analysis, completeness


of advice and good sales practice.


Each day, Haynes tries to get the best out of his teams. “I give people


the opportunity to develop their abilities and achieve what they set out to


do. I see myself in a supporting role, creating the environment to do this


and providing the right resources.


“I run a meritocracy where the best performing get the best rewards but


everyone starts off on an equal basis.


It winds me up when people do not try.”


No wonder colleagues describe him as focused and passionate. That said, he


likes to keep his working day fluid and relatively unstructured so as not


to be always rushing from one meeting to another.


He finishes around 6pm and heads for the gym in a bid to remain as fit as


possible. He also relaxes at home in Clifton, Bristol with his children,


Alexander, five, and Claudia, three.


During the course of a week, he moves between Birmingham, London and


Bristol to keep a high profile in the branches and give the salesforce the


chance to discuss any problems face to face. But confrontation is not his


style.


Surprisingly, then, one of his biggest hobbies is martial arts. He also


collects paintings – “not like Charles Saatchi” but buying what he likes.


His is currently into abstract impressionism. Yet another love is classical


history and archaeology around the time of Alexander the Great.


He also enjoys travelling. Haiti made a particularly big impression on him.


“Despite the highest infant mortality rate in the world, it has a


vibrancy,” he says.


For the end of the millennium, he is going to Jamaica. His ideal holiday


would be scuba diving in the Seychelles, perhaps a hangover from his


childhood ambition to be Jacques Cousteau.


As for the future of financial services, he sees the biggest issues as the


dichotomy between new charging structures and the customer&#39s requirement


for advice.


“Our research shows that people want advice but the proposed margins make


it hard to deliver. Our solution is to build scale and grow the business


organically. We need to write a bigger volume of business,” he says.


As a former IFA, does he have any tips to help IFAs flourish in this


environment? He suggests “an entrepreneurial flair, understanding the


customer and a commitment to giving sound advice”

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