As far as dates go, one could be forgiven for thinking April 27 was just another day.
Yet for millennia April 27 has featured in history as a day of breaking new ground, from Beethoven’s composition of Fur Elise in 1810 and the introduction of the computer mouse by Xerox PARC in 1981 to the very first flight of the superjumbo Airbus A380 in 2005.
It is therefore quite fitting that a business founder, imbued with entrepreneurial spirit and great hopes for a burgeoning business, would choose April 27 to establish their operations.
Enter Helena Hennelly, who, after being made redundant early in the new millennium, seized the opportunity to launch her own independent brokerage.
Established as Hennelly Financial Services Limited trading as Hennelly Finance and Mortgages 4 U 24/7 the business was first located on Galway’s Abbeygate Street, specialising in home mortgages and family insurance protection.
Showing a real flair for innovation, Helena has become known as a real trail blazer in her industry. She was the first broker in Galway to advertise mortgage services in the newspapers’ property sections back in the early 2000’s, and has kept well ahead of changes in legislation and product offerings to provide her customers with cutting edge advice to help them realise their lifestyle goals.
Change has been a constant during her years in business, Helena says, and her firm’s ability to rapidly adapt to changes in technology, legislation and the insurance landscape are among the keys to her success.
“When we first started out in 2000, we used floppy disks to update our quotations and mailed them back to the insurance partners every six months,” Helena says.
“Thanks to the internet and technology, today we can complete entire applications online.”
Quotations aren’t the only aspect of her business to be affected by technology; Helena’s clients have become far more knowledgeable thanks to the abundance of information available on the internet.
“Our clients today are much more savvy about insurance that protects their families and lifestyles for events such as serious illness,” she says.
“Back in 2000, people just weren’t aware of the prevalence of illnesses such as cancer which statistics show now affects one in every three.”
Widespread legislation changes and massive market impacts such as the recession have also changed the way Hennelly Finance does business. The introduction of the Lifetime Community Rating (LCR) brought sweeping change to health insurance with late entry loadings applied to people who take insurance over the age of 35. Another change was the EU Gender Directive which fundamentally redefined the insurance landscape, effectively prohibiting insurers from discriminating between men and women.
Embracing each change with gusto, Hennelly Finance has always been keen to share its expertise, speaking regularly on radio about changes to the market and their effects.
Hennelly Finance staff have been regulars on the speaking circuit, delivering sessions tailored for their corporate health insurance clients, information events on pensions, fitness and women’s health and a prestigious networking event at the Galway Clinic in conjunction with Aviva Health in 2015.
Even the Galway Races, family and lifestyle expos and an exclusive fashion show have featured in the company’s community engagement line-up, an essential component of remaining connected with their customers and in-tune with their changing needs.
Take the 30-something Monday Millions winner who, after purchasing his first ever lotto ticket, was dumfounded when his numbers came up. With such a life-altering windfall and little investment strategy for the long-term management of his win, he was delighted for the advice and guidance of Hennelly Finance’s expert team.
Today, with the 16th anniversary fast approaching, Helena has grown Hennelly Finance to employ six full-time staff and service more than 2000 clients. Backed by her daughter Ruth Hennelly, one of the industry’s leading financial advisors and employee benefits specialists, she has built enviable partnerships with some of the world’s top financial services providers including Zurich, Aviva, Irish Life, Friends First, New Ireland Assurance, Standard Life, BCP, BlackBee, just to mention a few.
So what in Helena’s opinion has driven her company’s outstanding success?
“It’s all down to one very simple thing – a consistent approach to the best possible customer service,” she says.
“That means changing with the times and adapting to your customers’ needs, and always being available when you’re needed.
“As we like to say, there’s no need to dial one and wait for an anonymous call centre; we always answer the phone and are here when you need us.