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Richard Moodey is a national account manager at insurance giant Zurich. He tells workingwise.co.uk about how he completed his degree in his 50s alongside his job and how that increased his commitment to his job and to building a more diverse organisation.
Companies that invest in training and developing their workforce throughout their working lives ensure they maintain their engagement and passion. Take Richard Moodey. He began his career in retail sales before moving into financial sales, where he has stayed for over 30 years. Richard, 58, has been at Zurich Insurance for the last 18 years and before that spent 16 years in Royal Life, now RSA. He joined as regional accounts manager after being headhunted for his contacts and expertise from a similar role in Royal Life and covered a large patch including East Anglia, Essex and North London.
Now a national account manager Richard, who lives in Clacton on Sea, works with financial advisers, banks and others and on financial advice panels advising on financial protection.
He says: “I’m part of a small team looking after our Key Protection distributors such as St. James’s Place, Sesame Bankhall Group and HSBC – all of whom can sell our protection products. We look after around 80% of the IFA protection market so the team I’m in is a crucial link to the advice community. I manage the head office relationships and have day to day accountability, whilst our two sales teams look after the advisers nationwide. I also have some involvement in the propositional aspect of our products – especially since we launched the completely new Life Protection Platform in late 2018 – it is ever evolving.”
He loves the dynamic nature of the financial protection market. He says: “I enjoy meeting the personalities, innovators and love how fast the market is evolving. And my enthusiasm for the digitalisation of the market is unbounded – and Covid-19 has really speeded that up, I think.”
In the last few years, thanks to Zurich, Richard has been able to gain a slew of financial qualifications that serve to boost his standing across the industry. He was sponsored by Zurich to do his Level 4 Diploma through the Chartered Insurance Institute, which involved hundreds of hours of work. All independent financial advisers have to have a minimum of a Level 4 Diploma. One of the papers was on leadership and management and Richard enjoyed it so much that he went on to do a Level 5 Diploma. He eventually decided to do a BA Honours course at the University of Northumbria, starting his course in the same year as his oldest son began university, meaning he could help support his son with his essay writing. Richard graduated in 2014 at the age of 52, having done his studying from 10pm to 1am every night. He could have taken the time off to do it, but didn’t want to. During the course he went twice to Northumbria and the rest of his studying was done by distance learning. He says the degree gave him the confidence to talk to people across the business. “It was a very proud moment when I graduated,” he says.
Richard is passionate about leadership and, particularly, about diversity. He is involved with Zurich’s women and innovation network, their graduate programme and is a brand ambassador. He posts regularly on the internal social media and believes communication around diversity is vital. He is very aware that he fits the stereotype of a manager in insurance, being a white middle aged man, but feels strongly that he can make a difference. He says he was highly influenced by Rose St Louis, a former line manager and one of the few black women in such a senior position in the insurance industry. She encouraged him to express his views about diversity and to find an outlet for it.
Richard also mentors people inside Zurich through the Zurich Community Trust and outside through the 30% Club and says his work with the 30% Club, which campaigns for greater female representation on boards, has been “an eye opener”. His work on diversity has won him several awards, including practitioner of the year at last year’s Investment and Life Assurance Group Awards. He was also runner-up for diversity manager of the year, having been nominated by Rose. Richard was recently appointed chair of one of the practitioners groups within ILAG.
He adds that Zurich’s flexible culture has helped him throughout his time there – for instance, because he was used to working at home one day a week he has been able to make the transition to working five days from home during lockdown fairly smoothly. Flexible working also means he is able to get involved in outside pursuits. For instance, he chairs a local basketball club and is an Multi-Academy trustee and board member for two local secondary and primary schools. He says that helps balance what can be a stressful career in finance.
He has no plans to take early retirement and feels that the company’s investment in him has increased his commitment to his job. “If you treat people at work with respect you get that back,” he says.
*This is the first of a series of case studies from Zurich, highlighting the role of older workers and how an inclusive culture supports them.