Emma Peterson, Director FinTech Awards Wales & Finance Awards Wales Meets:
Chief Financial Officer,
Continuing this new 11 part series of ‘Emma Meets’, Emma Peterson, Director of Recruit 121 Finance & Accounting Solutions, finds out more about the sponsors of the up and coming Finance Awards Wales 2022. Finance Awards Wales is designed to recognise, attract and invest in the talented finance professionals working in Wales, showcasing the best of the best in the finance industry. In this edition, Emma meets Geraint Jones, Chief Financial Officer at Admiral Group.
Tell me about yourself and career to date?
I’m Geraint Jones, married with two kids who are going through their GCSEs and A Levels shortly (eek!), and two very handsome cockapoos. I’m a big Liverpool FC fan so loving football right now, and my main hobby is a mid-life crisis related attempt to do triathlons! I currently live in Cardiff but I grew up in Nelson and went to university in Aberystwyth. I spent the early part of my career as an Auditor at EY and KPMG, then joined Admiral’s finance team in June 2002 and became Group Chief Financial Officer in 2014.
Can you give me an overview of your company and what you do?
We are a FTSE100 Financial Services company with businesses around the world. In the UK, you’ll know us through our Admiral brand but we also have Elephant, Diamond and Bell, Gladiator for commercial vehicles and Veygo for temporary and learner driver insurance.
We also have insurance businesses in Spain, Italy and France, an insurer and price comparison business in the US, and offices in Canada, India and Gibraltar too. We are an agile and innovative organisation, never afraid to test new ideas. Our aim is to give great service and value for money to as many people as possible.
Although we started life as an insurance provider, we’ve expanded into new products such as personal finance through Admiral Money and legal services through Admiral Law. Most recently we set up Admiral Pioneer which is an exciting new venture tasked with exploring and investing in new businesses and emerging consumer needs.
What has been the biggest challenge the company has faced and how have you responded?
That’s an interesting question. Many firms have suffered hugely during the pandemic and I’m massively sympathetic, though our business, by its nature, has been resilient. Converting our various operations from being almost entirely office based to being fully remote was a major challenge of 2020, and now in 2022 we’re in the process of embedding hybrid working, where our colleagues will start coming back into our offices at least part of the time. It’s been genuinely great to see the offices start to fill up and having some atmosphere again!
Another challenge we have, like many firms right now, is with recruitment and retention of colleagues – the market is so hot and it’s definitely a candidate rather than employer’s market. Being able to work virtually is a blessing and curse from that point of view. Our culture remains really strong, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue to hold onto our great people and our reputation as a great place to work will help recruit new people too.
And finally, like every other company, we’re seeing some inflation in our cost base, not all of which will get passed through to customers in higher prices, so that probably means our margins will be under some pressure this year.
How do you feel the Welsh economy will fare over the next 12 months?
Tough question! Others are much better qualified than me to answer that, especially in light of all the uncertainty around right now – inflation, uncertainty in financial markets, potential demand squeeze from the cost of living crisis to name a few… who’d be an economist!
We’re focused on running and growing our businesses, which are still heavily based in South Wales, and hopefully continuing to increase the number of people we employ here.
What plans do you have for your business in 2022?
As I mentioned, one of our main priorities for the year is to embed hybrid working, and our excellent teams across the business have been working extremely hard to make that happen. We’re seeing really positive momentum right now and here’s hoping the impacts of the pandemic start to fade.
More generally, we’re always looking to grow and improve all our businesses in the UK and beyond, and you might also see a couple of new products launched during the year which is always very exciting.
Why did you choose to sponsor the Finance Awards Wales 2022?
We were very keen to sponsor Finance Awards Wales 2022, and in particular the Rising Star award, as we want to recognise and celebrate the breadth of emerging talent in Welsh finance. The impact that the next generation are making on our industry is palpable and it’s important we shout about this. We’re always seeing the rising stars in finance at Admiral use their talent (both in our finance teams but also in roles beyond finance) to drive us forward as a business, so we’re really excited to sponsor this award and show that Wales really is a hub for excellent finance professionals.