Get To Know: Neil McLarnon, Account Director, ABL Group

I’m a fairly new addition to the ABL team, having joined as an Account Director in February of this year. But I’ve been working in insurance for almost 12 years, starting in September 2011 when I joined another Insurance broker in Belfast as a Trainee Account Handler.

I was with this broker until February 2023, predominantly as a Corporate Account Handler and worked my way through the various industry qualifications, obtaining my ACII in 2022. I was keen to move into a more client-facing, Account Executive/Account Director role, so when the opportunity arose with ABL, I grabbed it with both hands.

I usually find myself in the office three days a week, which has been beneficial in getting to know the new company, team and culture. Working in close proximity also helps with learning systems and processes - it's easy to ask for help from someone sitting next to me.

Everyone has been more than happy to help since I joined. While I’ve worked in the field for a long time, joining any new firm is always a step into the unknown and there’s always more to learn.

But there’s an openness to the culture here, which makes it easy to engage with experienced colleagues and ask for advice or even just where the paper clips are!

My role also requires time out on the road, travelling to meet with clients. It’s great to break up my working week and these meetings allow us to truly understand our client’s business and of course, help strengthen our working relationships. 

As well as being an Account Director, I frequently moonlight as a dad to a young family! So the flexibility to work from home and the associated benefits can’t be overstated. 

Work-from-home days mean I can drop my 3-year-old daughter at playgroup and my 13-year-old stepson at secondary school (no points for guessing which one skips in!). I am also on hand, time permitting, to help with homework, catch up on everyone’s day and enjoy dinner as a family.

Having recently moved into a new house, my better half also likes to ensure I’m kept busy with a never-ending “to-do” list! Some day I’ll get to sit back and enjoy it!!

I like to keep fit and where I would have played football or spent my evenings in the gym pre-covid, I now enjoy a run with my Cocker Spaniel at lunch in the local park. It’s great to get away from the laptop for an hour and more often than not, I feel refreshed for the rest of the day.

The nature of the Account Director role is quite autonomous, so I enjoy the ability to structure my diary.

Variety is important, so no two days will look the same and as I deal with clients from all Industries/Sectors I get to meet a lot of people and learn more about all types of business which keeps my interest.

I do, however, like to dedicate some time to certain tasks, primarily Prospecting which is an important element of the role.

While the role requires the ability to set your own agenda and keep yourself motivated, we’re far from being isolated! There are recurring monthly team meetings for our team of Account Directors alongside Senior Management, allowing for information sharing and advice. 

ABL has one of the best-qualified and most experienced teams in the industry, so I know this will be of particular benefit to me as I’m relatively new to this role. I am also involved in our New Business Team with several other Account Directors. We meet weekly to share ideas and discuss our strategy, prospects and pipeline in addition to celebrating our colleagues’ successes. 

ABL has grown and evolved in recent years and I am proud to now be a part of that. To thrive in 2023 requires the ability to adapt and make the right decisions and ABL have certainly shown those qualities in recent years.

While I’m still at the beginning of my career at ABL, I can already see the opportunities that come with working in a company going through such significant growth and development.