Synectics Solutions and Assurant are celebrating after winning a prestigious national award for successfully implementing innovative fraud prevention technology.

The Fintech, predictive analytics and data services company has worked with leading insurer Assurant in the UK to deliver the predictive analytics solution, Precision, to improve the detection of high-risk gadget claims. As a result, Synectics Solutions and Assurant received the ‘Fraud Prevention Solution of the Year’ award at the Insurance Times Claims Excellence Awards 2019, which were announced in London on Thursday 23 May.

Synectics has helped Assurant’s UK business to implement machine learning algorithms to accurately predict future behaviour based on past experience. The analytical capabilities of the solution combined with data science expertise is essential for Assurant in making fast decisions and delivering a cost-effective, predictive insight which enables the organisation to become more competitive in the marketplace.

The introduction of Precision has enabled Assurant to build an even more robust fraud detection system to protect its honest customers. The solution has also led to a 17.8 percent reduction in investigations being worked, allowing much needed and valuable investigator resource to be freed up to tackle new investigations. Assurant is a leading global provider of housing and lifestyle solutions that support, protect and connect major consumer purchases, and is committed to using sophisticated technology to build solutions that its clients and their customers can depend on.

Gavin Wright, Senior Fraud Data Analyst at Assurant in the UK, said: “We are delighted to have won this award with Synectics Solutions.

“Since the introduction of Precision Analytics 18 months ago, we have seen immediate and sustainable results. This award is an excellent achievement for both companies, as well as recognition of the incredible results that have been achieved by working in partnership to develop an innovative solution that meets our need.”

The Claims Excellence Awards are designed to recognise and reward excellence across claims – from those on the frontline who have direct contact with customers in their hour of need, to the nimble and entrepreneurial who are changing the world around us.

Oz Khurshid, Predictive Analytics Product Manager at Synectics Solutions, said: “We have been on a really exciting journey with Assurant’s UK business which started by exploring the use of Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning, to not only speed up, but identify incremental high-risk loss and theft gadget claims.  The initial proof of concept delivered great value and was followed by fantastic results within the production environment.

“The Assurant UK team has been really forward-thinking with their adoption of Precision’s machine learning capability and has optimised their business processes and reduced fraud impairment.

“We are pleased that this has been recognised by the Insurance Times Claims Awards judges.

“We are really looking forward to continuing the journey with Assurant and enhancing their use of Precision even further. A huge congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this wonderful achievement.”

Thousands of people across Staffordshire and Cheshire are enjoying a happy, affluent retirement thanks to pensions expert Richard Jacobs.

2019 sees Richard reaching 40 years as a Chartered practitioner in the pensions business, but at the age of 69, Newcastle-under-Lyme based Richard has no intention of penning his own retirement letter.

“I don’t work full time hours anymore, having gradually handed over the business management reins to my fellow company directors, Emily Small and Kate Barnard, but I still gain real fulfilment from ensuring clients get the best available advice,” said Richard.

Richard has been a pensions specialist since 1973 and achieved the gold standard as a Chartered Insurance Practitioner in 1979. He has gained a reputation as a leading expert on pensions and has authored many articles advising on pensions for national newspapers and the BBC. He founded Richard Jacobs Pensions and Trustee Services in 1992 and has presided over continuous growth, from a sole practitioner firm to a team of nine, based in modern offices at Brindley Court, Lymedale Business Park.

“I am proud to say I have retained my Chartered status for 40 years, renewing and refreshing my professional qualifications regularly. I have recently retaken the examinations again and have been confirmed as a Chartered Institute member in 2019.

“Chartered status is an important badge of confidence for our industry and is backed by a Royal Charter. The pensions industry supports people with one of the most important decisions they are likely to make; that is, how do I ensure my future in retirement? Chartered status can give clients reassurance and peace of mind.”

“I see expertise and trusted advice is as important now than at any time in my career as there’s a lot for clients to consider due to recent pension reforms, new legislation and ever-more sophisticated scams.

“The good news is that more people are now saving for their pension than ever before, largely due to the success of auto-enrolment. This means that employers have to enrol staff in a workplace scheme and this has revolutionised the way we save in the UK.

“Workers have to make a contribution, but this is supplemented by the company they work for and the benefits are clear. As people live longer, retirement can last for decades and saving for retirement is becoming ever more important. But than 10 million people are now auto-enrolled and have more security for later life.”

The Richard Jacobs team work with many companies in Staffordshire and Cheshire on auto enrolment, with clients from micro-businesses to large companies.

Said Richard: “Typically, we will provide a service to a company and the directors and senior managers may then also ask us to support their personal pension plans.”




A Stoke-on-Trent retirement village has been awarded Gold in a national award for the quality of its accommodation.

West End Village, ran by Staffordshire Housing Association, scooped the award at the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) National Awards, which celebrates the best specialist housing providers for older people across the UK.

The older people’s housing scheme, which provides independent living from over 55’s, was up against 300 other providers from across the UK and won one of the 9 gold awards awarded on the night.

Both residents and staff attended the awards and were delighted when they won as resident Elaine explains: “Winning the award is brilliant, we know it’s a lovely place, we know it’s the best!”

West End Village’s Scheme Manager Gina Cooper said: “It means the world to win the National Gold Award and it’s so nice to see that the hard work we put in is paying off. We love to have fun here at West End Village and it’s that which makes people feel so welcome. We’re so happy we’re going to celebrate with a party!”

John Galvin, EAC’s Chief Executive, explains the importance of the awards: “Specialist housing for older people plays an enormously significant role in helping them stay independent for longer. The security, support and great communities have a positive impact on individuals and reduce the need for NHS services.”

Earlier this year, West End Village won gold in the EAC regional award, where residents and visitors also voted. As well as accommodation, the scheme also provides communal facilities such as a gym, hairdressers and restaurant and hosts social events for both residents and the local community.

Experts are lining up to showcase two significant business growth opportunities available to Staffordshire businesses at Let’s Do Business, held at Uttoxeter Racecourse on Thursday 27th June 2019.   According to the Chamber of Commerce, exporting and securing funding are two of the best ways to create exponential growth and experts from the Department of International Trade and Chamber of Commerce will be revealing how at the event.

The region’s largest business exhibition, jointly organised by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, offers the perfect opportunity for visitors to meet a number of experts for FREE to discuss funding and exporting opportunities that are available to offer fresh solutions for business growth.

Robert Lawley, Head of International Trade for Staffordshire, at the Department of International Trade said: “Even with Brexit negotiations still ongoing, we believe it is a very good time to be exporting goods and services while the playing field is still level for the UK and sterling is low. We are currently in the busiest period ever in the Chamber securing export deals, with North Staffordshire alone having processed £250million worth of export invoices in 2018. The UK has an enviable reputation around the world for high quality products and services; we can help businesses in Staffordshire and across the Midlands, steer a course through their plans with confidence!

“Let’s Do Business is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to access free advice from my team, who will be on hand to share their wealth of knowledge and experience on creating and implementing export strategies whether they create ceramics, manufacture auto parts or offer a professional service.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming people on to the Department of International Trade truck where we can share detailed information about exporting. And for businesses who want to look into exporting further, we can meet up after the event and help to create and implement a strategy.”

Chris Plant, Director at Greater Birmingham Chambers spoke about the opportunities: “Our Let’s Do Business expo has grown year on year attracting the best businesses in the region with top class speakers, business growth experts, networking sessions and exhibition halls.

“With over £25m new government funding now available and a range of exporting channels to explore, we want visitors to make new contacts and seek out opportunities to grow their businesses. While Brexit remains a daunting prospect, it could also provide lots of opportunities for many businesses to grow and expand and we want to encourage people to have a positive outlook. Attending Let’s Do Business is the perfect opportunity to gather new ideas and make new contacts to make good things happen!”