Best Advice talks to Peter Hubbard, Chair of The Exeter

Best Advice talks to Peter Hubbard, Chair of The Exeter
Best Advice talks to Peter Hubbard, Chair of The Exeter

BestAdvice fires the questions at Peter Hubbard, chair of the The Exeter. 

BestAdvice (BA): You’re a passionate advocate of mutuality, but what makes mutuals different to other businesses? 

Peter Hubbard (PH): Firstly, because mutuals don’t have shareholders, a type of stakeholder that often seeks short-term financial gain, we can often look more long-term. This allows us to focus on providing the best service to our members and reinvesting our profits in initiatives to make it happen - even if they don’t result in an immediate business gain. Something that we believe is extremely important. 

Secondly, being owned by our members means we always look to put their needs at the forefront of what we do. At times, our industry has not always covered itself in glory in terms of delivering the best customer outcomes; but our mutuality provides us with an opportunity to show that taking care of our members is about more than simply making a profit.

BA: How does The Exeter differentiate itself from its competitors? 

PH: I think we are certainly in part defined by being a mutual, meaning that we can truly embrace our ability to look long term. This has enabled us to invest more in our culture, to be different to other businesses, and in our technology to help us support customers.

We are on an exciting journey to leverage our culture and technology to provide even better outcomes for our members and advisers. Because of our size, we can react quickly to opportunities and make faster decisions, which can have a direct impact on customers.

BA: Are there any benefits to advisers in engaging with mutuals? 

PH: Culturally, because we put customers at the forefront of our business, it means that we are committed to working closely with advisers to deliver a range of solutions that meet the needs of their customers. Mutuals often offer products which complement the wider market and give advisers greater choice. When combined with the ability to underwrite individually, this means we are better able to tailor products to the end customer. From an adviser's perspective, this is an important factor in growing a book of business.

BA: What role do mutuals play in delivering satisfactory outcomes for customers? 

PH: We play the same important role as all financial services businesses; we have a responsibility to ensure we deliver the best outcomes for our members at every opportunity. This is a core focus for our business, and stands us in good stead when it comes to the changing regulatory landscape that we find ourselves working in.

The recent introduction of the Consumer Duty was another positive step towards ensuring our industry continues to act in the best interests of its customers. Whilst it was a significant change, those organisations who were highly customer focussed and delivering positive outcomes before the Duty, are likely to have found adapting to the changes less daunting.

BA: What benefits has The Exeter’s status as a mutual had on its business resilience in recent times? 

PH: Again, culture is vitally important. We enjoy a distinct culture that comes from being owned by our members. This means that we can maintain our focus on the end-users of our products rather than reacting continuously to all the twists and turns of financial markets or the economy.

Without having to focus on delivering returns to shareholders, we can reinvest our profits to benefit our members whilst building up our capital base, which gives us a solid grounding as a business. This makes us more resilient, providing a solidity that enables us to keep going through turbulent times.

BA: Since joining The Exeter, what has been the favourite part of your role? 

PH: It has to be working with the people at The Exeter. I retired some years ago and stepped down from my executive career, after six months, I felt something was massively missing in my life. After a while, I realised it was the excitement of getting to work with other people to try and do the right things.

There has been a lot of change in the company and when you’re going through that process, you can’t always see how you’re going to get to where you want to be; but that’s exciting, and that’s why I love it.

Both the businesses I have a role in now are mutuals with unique cultures, and both are at exciting parts of their story, with massive investment that will enable them to take a lead rather than be a follower.

BA: What are your aspirations for The Exeter this year?

PH: To see our hard work come to fruition over the course of 2024. By the end of the year, I think members, intermediaries and other customers will really notice where we are starting to take a lead in some of the things we do. It is an exciting time for the business.


This article was originally published in Best Advice on 12/02/2024: bestadvice.co.uk/qa-peter-hubbard-the-exeter