Inez founded William Russell in 1992, so she’s been involved in all aspects of the company since the very beginning. She swapped her City of London career for start-up in an attic, in what was a niche market of arranging private healthcare for expats. Now that market is worth US$16.5bn globally each year, and William Russell is its leading independent insurance provider.
It’s now almost 30 years since I started William Russell. I began working in the attic of my tiny house in leafy Sutton Green. In fact, the attic was the bedroom of my 6-month-old son, William. He was my companion at work until I moved into the company’s first proper office.
It turns out there were quite a few expats in need of private healthcare, so the business grew quicker than I’d ever imagined possible. I took on customers in expat haunts such as Dubai and Hong Kong, where the company now has offices. My brother, James, joined me in business, and we soon built connections with customers, brokers, hospitals, and insurers around the world. I’m delighted that we maintain many of those connections today.
In the past 30 years, the world has changed unimaginably. The internet was still on the fringes of mainstream communications in the early 1990s, and we relied on the telephone, post, and fax to serve our customers. Now, we’re video calling our customers, live-streaming webinars, and issuing policy documents digitally.
I can’t quite say where the time has gone – it’s just flown by. But some things never change; our independence, our passion for treating customers with respect and fairness, and the enthusiasm of our staff, many of whom have been with the company for years.
Having started in an attic, we now have offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Dubai, and our headquarters are just outside London. We have a solid relationship with our global insurance partner, Allianz, one of the world’s largest financial services groups. My son, William, now works for the company and he’s involved in our ambitious plans for technology and digitisation.
It’s wonderful to see the business energised and thriving under a new generation, and together we’re creating a reliable service for our customers in their hour of greatest need.