James Elston – Client Executive, Specialist Risk Insurance Solutions

James – website crop

In the next instalment of our Guiding Growth series, we caught up with James Elston, Client Executive at  Specialist Risk Insurance Solutions (SRIS). Here, we find out more about James’ career progression at SRG, his thoughts on current market trends, and how he has been supported during his promotion from Client Manager to Client Executive.

What does your role as Client Executive entail?

I have a book of clients and it is my responsibility to manage each client’s account, from renewals and mid-term adjustments with the support of the client management team to claims reviews with the claims team. I have expertise across all classes of business including Motor, Financial Lines, Liability, and Property and it is my role to highlight any emerging risks to my clients, for example, cyber, which is an ever increasing risk to all UK businesses at the moment, along with any other exposures which are specific to my clients’ business.

How has your role developed over the last four years since Square Mile Broking was acquired by SRG?

Before Square Mile Broking was acquired by SRG, I was a Client Manager. After joining the Group, I was promoted to Client Executive, effective from December 2022. Before I officially started my new role, I did a transition year where I was learning the Client Executive side, whilst maintaining my Client Manager responsibilities which helped put me in a good stead for my new role.

The main progression in my role is that previously, I would always have the Client Executive working on the account who I could refer to if there was a difficult conversation to be had, for example to do with cover, claims, or premium costs. However, it is now my responsibility to manage these conversations with clients. It is therefore vital that I maintain good relationships and it is my goal to ensure all clients are happy with the service they receive from SRIS.

I was also on SRG’s HiPo programme. Despite it taking place over COVID lockdowns, I got a lot out of the programme, and it taught me interpersonal skills that I have been able to benefit from in my new role. The best part for me was the exposure I was given to the rest of the business and the senior leadership team. I got to meet and speak to different people and see how things work in other areas of the business. I also really benefitted from the ‘Buddy to Boss’ workshop, which helped with the transition into my new role – going from working alongside my Client Manager colleagues, to taking a step up and becoming the Client Executive and having ultimate responsibility for the account, working in conjunction with and the invaluable support from the Client Manager team. It provided me with the skills and knowledge to maintain good working relationships, which has been extremely helpful.

What do you enjoy the most about your role?

My favourite part is going out and seeing clients face to face. It is good to get in front of people and get to know them, not just about their business but get to know them as individuals and build long-lasting relationships. I am also fortunate to be surrounded by a fantastic team who are working towards the same goal. At SRIS, everyone is willing to help and support you, which is particularly helpful if there is a case where you need to pull on someone else’s area of expertise or knowledge on a particular subject.

What trends have you been seeing in the insurance market this year?

The motor market has been hit particularly hard by inflation, supply chain issues, labour shortages, and extensive repair times, all of which have led to rate increases. On Property, Casualty and Motor, we are still in a hard market. However, we are seeing Professional Indemnity (PI) and Management Liability rates begin to level out and soften in some areas.

At SRIS, we are seeing a real increase in Cyber claims, particularly over the past few weeks, where we have seen several significant incidents that have impacted our clients. Luckily, we had provided them with a robust Cyber policy which has responded, however, for clients that have chosen not to take out Cyber cover, it is becoming increasingly challenging to protect their business from the digital risks they face.

To help my clients navigate through these challenging times, I find it is best to be open and honest with them on where the market is to help manage expectations as early as possible. You don’t want to promise something you cannot deliver on! On Cyber especially, I have been sharing real-life incidents with my clients, not to scare them, but to show them what happens and how a Cyber policy responds, in particular the costs involved and how they can spiral very quickly. Many businesses do not know how much a cyber attack could cost them if they didn’t have this policy in place, so it is good to be able to provide them with the knowledge and advice to be able to make informed decisions about protecting their business.


“Everyone is willing to help and support you.”

What advice would you give to a company that operates in a high-risk sector looking for a specialist insurance broker?

SRIS have specialisms in a number of different sectors and a company would certainly want to deal with a broker that knew the industry they worked in and what insurance covers would be required, but also how the policy works and relaying that back. Furthermore, I believe it is important to ask a prospective client the service they would like to receive from their insurance broker, so that I can adapt my style accordingly. I would then present the SRIS proposition, tailored to their unique requirements. That said, I would highlight the full service proposition SRIS are able to offer – general management of the account, with regular client service reviews and full claims management before I undertake a review of their existing programme to highlight any potential gaps in cover and cover limits that may not be sufficient. I would take the time to get to know them and their business, and then explain what is going on in the market and how this may impact their insurance programme.

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

My friends! I have had the same group of friends since school, many who have done really well for themselves and over the last 23 years, we have remained a very tight knit group. We are open with each other so if I ever need any advice or inspiration, I know I can turn to them for support.

What do you do to grow professionally?

Personally, I find it helpful to watch what my peers do. I look at how different people approach certain situations such as how they are in meetings and how they speak to clients. Other than that, I keep up to date with not only what is going on in the insurance market, but also current affairs in the world. This ensures that when I speak with my clients, I know what is going on and I can have meaningful conversations with them.

Continuously learning and developing myself is important to me, particularly coming from an Account Handler background, I like to have the knowledge to answer queries when asked what policies cover and different wordings.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone gave you at the beginning of your career?

Don’t run before you can walk! Ambition is good but don’t be too eager. I think it is vital to master the role you are in before looking for your next step. To caveat that, you don’t want your role to become stagnant therefore, if there is something else you want to take on, it’s good to have an open and honest chat with your boss to highlight where else you feel you could add value.

What benefits have you experienced since being part of SRG?

Prior to joining SRG, Square Mile Broking had a team of 20-25 and the Client Executives were the Directors and owners of the business. Although they gave us great autonomy on cases and developed us as people, since being part of SRG, there has been more career opportunities, and I have definitely reaped the rewards of that.

Now the Group has over 550 employees and there are so many specialists in niche areas which has really broadened my network and in turn, benefits my clients. Also, it helps being in the City as our insurer partners are on our doorstep and I can easily meet up with them to discuss risks, whereas Square Mile Broking was based in Croydon, so we weren’t in the City as regularly and appointments would need to be made.

What 3 words would you use to describe working at SRIS and SRG?

Challenging, fun, and appreciated.


Interested in finding out more about life at SRG? Click here.