Why I left my investment banking associate job at Barclays to start my own insurance firm

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When Tobias Taupitz moved to London to take an investment banking job in Barclays’ FIG team, he was under no illusions that the hours and workload would be tough. However, he was at least expecting some improvement in his lifestyle after two years working for KPMG’s corporate finance team in Munich.

“I spent two years living the consultant lifestyle in Munich, but the infrastructure there is not great and I could never get my dry-cleaning done," he tells us. “I used to pack dirty shirts and then use the hotel express cleaning service. I wouldn’t say the lifestyle of working for a bank in London is better, but the infrastructure here is.”

Last month, though, Taupitz threw it all in. He quit his role as an associate in Barclays’ FIG M&A team to launch his own insurance firm – Insure A Thing. He describes this as a “bold” move to shake-up the insurance business model. Instead of premiums, the group of people who sign up to a particular policy ‘split’ the bill based on the actual number of claims – up to a cap.

The firm is essentially a fintech firm, trying to disrupt larger players in an established industry. Taupitz took a role within Barclays’ fledgling fintech M&A team in 2014, just before the sector exploded last year. The move gave him an insight into which ideas work and which operating models tend to survive.

“When I joined the Fintech M&A team at Barclays, I was one of the few dedicated analysts and there wasn't a a lot of competition to get staffed on such deals. This changed a lot since 2014 due to deal flow,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of activity as new firms launch and consolidation of the industry is inevitable. Understanding how these firms work – and how they should work – really helps if you ever want to launch a fintech firm of your own.”

If banking was such an education, why leave? Taupitz says the banking career path simply didn't appeal to him.

“I know early on when I was working in investment banking that I never wanted to become a VP and then director/managing director where it becomes more about project management and sales than the numerical analysis, even if it’s appealing from a compensation perspective,” he says.

Launching your own firm, and leaving a high-paying job, is not just about believing in your own idea, but receiving some “external validation”, he says.

“I’d worked on the idea over the weekends and evenings when I was at Barclays and was considering going down the well-trodden route of going into private equity or venture capital as an investment associate,” he says. “But one senior person who was interviewing me at a tech VC firm ripped apart my CV and said he wasn’t going to hire me because I should launch Insure A Thing.”

Taupitz has kicked off the firm with a focus on bicycle insurance. “I’m a keen cyclist, but it’s also an sector where people are willing to spent around £1,000 on their product and take good care of it. From a boot-strapping point of view, it’s also easier to reach potential customers through cycle clubs and word of mouth.”

He has been out of Barclays for less than a month and has moved from a high-paying investment bank supported by a huge infrastructure to working alone and living off his savings.

“It’s a huge step going from a hierarchical structure to being your own boss,” he says. “Right now, I’m living off my savings, which has meant making a lot of adjustments to my lifestyle. Earlier this month I was in an open plan office at Barclays. Now, I’m working rooftop terrace looking across London with a laptop. For better or worse, it’s a different life.”

Taupitz is currently in the process of working with advisers and potentially accessing funding later in the year – and maybe start hiring.

“We’re preparing to raise funds in October and right now I’m scoping out what skills we’re likely to need in the short-term,” he says. “Currently, we are looking for an experienced CTO/Co-founder who is likely a senior software developer and be very hands-on.”

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

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