In the second edition of our column introducing the brightest talents beginning their career in the industry, Isabelle Bertram Lax, tele-interviewer at LifeSearch, speaks to Health & Protection about challenging insurers’ underwriting processes on behalf of clients and completing an insurance application while her client was in labour.
How did you get your start in the sector?
In 2017, I was studying sociology at university and funded my course by working part time as a tele-interviewer at LifeSearch.
After graduating and reflecting on hearing so many personal stories about clients who had benefitted from the right advice, I decided I wanted to explore how I could continue my career in the industry.
By using the knowledge I had gained during my time at university, I began to focus on what I could do to influence the client journeys that we complete every day to ensure that we’re keeping up with the ever changing ways of the world around us.
My recent promotion during this past year has allowed me to expand my professional reach as I now have direct relations with individuals at each of the insurance companies so we can make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
Developing people, I am a big advocate of personal development and so I enjoy making sure my team are holding themselves accountable and ensure that they’re doing what they can to get the most out of their job role.
Externally I also find that challenging insurers on the underwriting process with the intention to improve the client journey, is equally rewarding as at the end of the day we should all be putting the client at the forefront of the journey so it’s key we keep them in mind when adjusting the process. I’d highlight Scottish Widows and L&G, to name just a couple of who have listened to us on this issue recently.
Who is your role model – in life or in work?
Emmeline Pankhurst – who organised the UK suffragette movement and helped women win the right to vote.
She founded and became involved with the Women’s Franchise League, which advocated suffrage for both married and unmarried women. She’s well known for organising hunger strikes during prison as a form of activism to gain better conditions for those inside as well.
Even during the first world war Emmeline organised and led a massive procession called the Women’s Right to Serve demonstration to illustrate women’s contribution to the war effort.
In my opinion she is one of the biggest figures in women’s rights, and I believe if it wasn’t for her sometimes extreme actions the world would be a very different place.
Who has been your most important mentor in your career so far and why?
LifeSearch’s chief customer officer, who just so happens to be my mum. I can swear no favouritism has ever been given.
She worked her way up through the ranks, while being a young mum with no qualifications to now one of LifeSearch’s chiefs. Her determination to not let her career go stagnant while looking after a baby is enviable as previously women had to choose between the two.
She showed me that with the right attitude and work ethic, you can achieve anything. Plus it’s always nice to actually understand what your parents are talking about when they’re on about their job, so it helps to be in the same industry.
What advice would you give to people thinking about a career in the sector?
Don’t be scared if you don’t think you have enough life experience, if you truly care about getting the right outcomes for people and making a difference to their lives, that’s all you need.
What has been your biggest setback and how did you overcome it?
Going from being one of the team to then leading them this recent year. I’ve had to learn on the job how to balance friendship and leadership, and although it did affect my confidence initially, the support from my leader and our excellence leadership development programme I feel that I am now getting the balance right.
Laugh or cry – what did your most memorable client or case make you want to do and why?
A bit of both. One of my first ever clients was in labour while I completed their insurance application; she was determined to get it all in place before the baby arrived. It took me by surprise when she answered the phone and had to apologise in advance for the sound she was making but she was doing the best for her baby at the time. She did let me know afterwards that it was a healthy baby girl.
What’s your ultimate goal for your career?
To encourage more women to get involved in the sector, and not just the administration side of it. Although LifeSearch are constantly working on the diversity of the advice section, it would be wonderful if one day we could say that the insurance industry is completely equal.
How would your boss describe you?
Bright, cheerful and funny but also thoughtful and analytical to identify areas that we might need to consider as a leadership group when looking to implement anything new. Someone who takes personal responsibility and doesn’t over react or take things personally whenever a set of stats or results are challenged or require a little more detail.
What’s your biggest talent away from work?
I’m very proud that me and my partner were able to save up and buy our own house at the age of 21, so I’d say because of that my talent is cooking a brilliant Sunday roast, or at least that’s what my partner tells me at least.
What mantra do you live by?
The world is wide – I want to make some memories.
What song would you regard as your theme tune?
Dancing Queen by Abba or any other Abba song, I’m not picky.