I remember my first day at the Bishop’s Stortford Branch of Pearl Assurance managed by the late Derek Poole-Adams. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed after completing a two week sales training course at Lynch Wood, Peterborough HQ in 1988. I was now a District Agent.
My first day was a Monday afternoon. I met a temporary collector who’d worked on my agency for the last few months. She gave me a large dark green leather hard-backed collection book. I recall my area was called my ‘debit’. The book was a heavy, a ledger for accounting. It was approximately A4 in size and two inches thick. The collection book was a record of all Industrial Branch (IB), General Branch (GB) and Ordinary Branch (OB) business. I was given a range of colour coded IB proposal cards which had one corner cut off.
My first evening involved walking around various estates in the centre of Harlow, Essex. Collecting cash, marking customers Premium Receipt Books (PRB) and recording it in my collection book. The book held the names of all of my customers on my debit. After being shown around my entire debit on a Monday and Friday night I was left to my own devices. I recall struggling to learn my new debit that I had never been to before now.
I also lived some twenty miles away and knew no one. Very daunting. I didn’t last very long, approximately two years. In that time I had walked many miles in all weathers collecting premiums at the beginning and end of each week and selling to clients on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. In those days there were no fact finds, we collected premiums and also paid out maturities and death claims. I also assessed GB claims. I recall one day I had to decide whether a customer had a genuine claim for his broken TV. I knew it was probably a false claim but sanctioned it. He was the same person who started a pension plan with me a few months later.
The smallest premium I collected was 1/2p per week and agreed to collect annually. I won’t ever forget the elderly woman who always had tea and cake ready for me every week. I was the only person she ever saw in her warden assisted flat and we spent half an hour every week chatting. At it’s height Pearl Assurance had over 10,000 collectors across the United Kingdom.
Many agents spent their entire working lives on one agency, becoming well know and respected members of the community. 40 years service on one agency was not uncommon.
What was your first job?