MY BEST ... 'The deal with Halifax to launch Esure. When you have pounds 150 million of capital, plus customers and great branding, that's a good deal.
When I set up Direct Line, we removed the middle man; with Esure we're removing the call centre. It's a good deal because I've got a nice partner and a good company to work with. And because Halifax has a database of 21 million customers and a strong brand, our customer acquisition costs will be much lower than with Direct Line. You have to get two things right with insurance - expenses and loss ratios; and Halifax's database will help me find customers who make fewer claims. It's my seventh insurance company launch, and this is the best position I've ever started from.'
MY WORST ...
'Not borrowing pounds 20 million to found Direct Line. I did a complicated deal with Royal Bank of Scotland instead. I kept some equity, but not enough. Today I'd get at least 50%. Given that the business is now worth pounds 2 billion and that I did it all, 2.5% isn't much. I didn't know anything about investment banking then and I didn't know my options. They were just stodgy bankers who didn't realise the value of what they'd got. I don't know whether I could have borrowed the money then, but I'd be better off if I had.'