Stuart Oliver, Romero Insurance Brokers' Senior Corporate Broker
Stuart Oliver, Senior Corporate Broker at Romero Insurance Brokers, talks us through his storied history within the insurance industry. Stuart is based with our Halifax team in the Dean Clough Mill offices.
With over 33 years’ experience in insurance, little surprises Stuart. He regularly can be found working beyond 5pm when the office is a little quieter, looking forward to the next local quiz night. He talks us through his feel for the work ethic at Romero Insurance Brokers, and how he’s getting on with his hip rehabilitation.
How long have you been working at Romero Insurance Brokers?
6 years. Senior Corporate Broker is my new title and I tend to deal with our larger corporate or global clients who have more complex policies and Insurance needs.
Where were you employed before and how did you fall into insurance?
(Stuart laughs and smiles to himself) – Basically, 15 years ago, I got conned by some mates to move from an insurer into broking and I became an Account Executive for a local broker in Low Moor, Bradford.
Prior to that, nearly 34 years ago now, I’d finished my A-levels but didn’t get the grades to study law at University, so I decided to get a job. The person who interviewed me and impressed me the most was Sun Alliance. I’d had banking interviews, quantity surveying interviews, but insurance won. A certain Paul Judge started on the same day as me at Sun Alliance, we were on the induction course together.
What brought you to Romero Insurance Brokers?
I came for the interview here 6 years ago at the Halifax branch. I went into the interview unsure as to whether I’d take the job; it would have to take a lot to sway me. But the people here really impressed me and I thought Let’s go for it – looking back, I made the right decision.
We’ve got a great set of people here, a really good team spirit and work ethic. We just all get on really well. Also, working from the Halifax office is great for me because it’s only 3 miles away from where I live in Lightcliffe. Traffic can still be a pain but that’s like everywhere.
What’s the environment like at the branch?
There’s quite a lot of banter around the office, but in the most part we are very professional. On the social side, we tend to celebrate birthdays with a drink and a bite to eat and we also do quizzes – I always like to see who comes second…
I usually do well on the socials and for the Christmas do coming up The Halifax Office are going to The Arches at Dean Clough for our ‘local office bash’ and will be attending the Romero Group event in Leeds.
We used to do more but since COVID it’s slowed down and we’ve a few members of staff with new young families. We get the invites to the Leeds office socials and go when we chose to travel across.
That said – I did end up coming first in the ‘Halifax Insurance Institute Quiz’ on 27/10/2022 (well me and three colleagues). I have the trophy to prove it!
What has struck you about the working environment of today?
Because I’ve been working for so many years, I know that working environments have changed. You’ve generally got less people doing more work, but that’s the way work has gone, with technology and everything. At Sun Alliance in the early 1990’s, there were 50,000 employees worldwide, so you could hide and it wasn’t as demanding.
Nowadays it’s not like that. It’s a little more demanding and you are expected to step up to the plate – and I truly feel everybody here does. At Romero, I believe they respect my insurance experience and ability, and let me crack on.
Here, you are very well rewarded for your efforts, unlike at other companies. You are allowed and empowered, to get on with your role – always knowing you are part of a great team. Help is always available if needed, we’ve got such a great team here with a wealth of experience and knowledge.
What would you say to someone who’s just started out or has never been in the Romero offices?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it is not a weakness!
People need to remember they’ve come in to do a role and there is an expectation to hit the ground running, however we know you don’t know the procedures or computer systems. Everyone here is willing to help you so you should use our vast amounts of experience. Ask the questions to build up your knowledge and confirm your understanding, it’s the best way to get on.
If you were a biscuit, which biscuit would you be and why?
To be honest, I don’t eat biscuits. But if I was going to be a biscuit, I’d be shortbread. In honour of my mother, Euphemia – because she’s Scottish.
What is your perfect Sunday?
It depends if Leeds United are playing. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 20 odd years. If not, go off for the day with the dog and wife, have a nice meal and a bottle of wine.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve owned?
A titanium right hip. It’s a new thing, only about 9 weeks ago. Over the years I’ve played in squash leagues, played rugby league and have trained and competed at kick boxing. Probably the reason why I needed a new hip at 52.
An album or artist you know too much about?
The artist would be Skunk Anansie. They headlined Glastonbury in 1999, and Skin (the Lead Singer) has a cracking voice! She’s about 55 now and looks exactly the same as in the 90s when I used to go to their gigs. They had a slight a break during the noughties and reformed in 2009 and the last time I saw them was this year at the O2 Academy in Leeds. Alternative Rock, or Indie Rock, is probably the best way to describe their sound plus they also got an invite to play Glastonbury again this year and they didn’t disappoint.
Are you a member of any clubs?
Not since I’ve had my hip done, but I am a Leeds United season ticket holder.
What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?
Newcastle… in New South Wales.
Do you cook?
Yes, my signature dish is Moules Mariniere, or chateaubriand with bearnaise sauce.
Are there any personal projects or areas of self-growth you are working on at the moment?
Rehabilitation from my hip operation and it’s going ahead of schedule. There’s no pain anymore, but getting back to being much more active and going to the gym is what I’m most looking forward to!
If you were stranded on a desert island and could take one book, one luxury and one song, what would they be?
One Book – How to speak Italian, because I might as well learn something while I’m there.
One Luxury – Wind-up torch.
One Song – I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor by the Arctic Monkeys because its my go-to karaoke tune.
Thank you Stuart for describing your experiences and giving us a little insight into your time with us.