Case Study

Joseph Priestley of Zurich Insurance UK on the benefits of a UK base

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer serving customers with a wide range of property, casualty and life insurance products and services in more than 215 countries and territories. The group employs around 55,000 people globally with around 4,500 employees in the UK, one of its largest international markets. The group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872.

We spoke to Joseph Priestley, Public Affairs Manager at Zurich Insurance UK, about the opportunities in the UK market and its strong commitment to its UK-wide network of offices.

What does your company do?

Zurich is a leading, innovative and transformative leader in the financial services industry which places the customer at the heart of everything we do, meaning we are well placed to meet the evolving needs and expectations of customers.

We do everything from standard home and motor policies, life insurance and income protection through to big complex international insurance programmes for major international corporations. In the UK we supply personal, commercial and local authority insurance through a number of distribution channels, and offer a range of protection, retirement and savings policies available online and through financial intermediaries for the retail market and via employee benefit consultants for the corporate market.

Tell us about your UK and global operations.

The UK is one of the biggest international presences of Zurich. We have offices across the breadth of the UK with large sites in Swindon and Whiteley (just outside of Portsmouth) as well as London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cardiff with smaller operations in Newcastle, Manchester, Wolverhampton and Farnborough. So, we have a good spread across the UK. 

We give a key priority to creating a modern and progressive workplace for our people and one which attracts the very best talent and recently began to advertise every job vacancy as available part-time or as a job share, resulting in a 25% increase in women applying for jobs at all levels.

What are the main benefits to being based in the UK?

The UK is widely recognised as an international insurance and financial services hub which attracts global talent. This is a key advantage to being in the UK. The UK is also very much at the forefront of innovation in insurance, insurtech and fintech. We have partnered with a number of insurtech companies to offer innovative services to our customers for example a pay-by-mile motor insurance offering. Being close to the UK's vibrant fintech sector has been hugely beneficial to us as a company. We have built a powerful network of Zurich offices and insurance partner companies that gives our customers consistent, excellent service wherever they operate but having a base in the City of London and a physical presence in the UK, is often key for large multinational corporations.

The UK is widely recognised as an international insurance and financial services hub which attracts global talent. This is a key advantage to being in the UK.

Tell us about your company's growth ambitions and how the UK features in these.

Zurich has a flexible working policy called FlexWork, which a number of our employees already use. It’s an informal arrangement which allows people to choose when, where and how they work so we were able to pretty seamlessly transition into the lockdown period brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to deliver for our customers. We have found that teams are no longer so strongly bound by geography and we have seen that working from home can work for both our employees and our customers, with increased levels of customer service satisfaction.

A significant area of focus for us is small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). For that reason, we remain committed to our strong regional presence across the UK which ensures our responsiveness and service delivery for small and medium sized businesses with more complex requirements.

We are facing new business, political, and regulatory environments as well as broader societal challenges including demographic shifts, climate change, and changing customer behaviour which will come into sharper focus in a post-Brexit Britain. The insurance sector is, therefore, committed to boosting skills for all generations - from apprentices to harnessing the skills of older workers – and Zurich is committed to attracting, recruiting and retaining talent from all walks of life from across the UK which is another major rationale for our regional presence.”

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