Ascot has been one of Lloyd’s great success stories of the past 2 decades yet its CEO Andrew Brooks doesn’t have the sort of public profile that one would expect to go with the job.

After many years waiting out the soft market Ascot is now in aggressive expansion mode backed by a very patient, very deep pool of capital.

Given its cautious and prudent track record its diversification plans make for fascinating listening, particularly the thinking behind this historically short-tailed business’s controlled entry into the casualty world.

In our talk Andrew is engaging and very open and forthcoming about Ascot’s way of doing things.

Anyone looking for pointers on how to build a successful underwriting operation that is sustainable over the long term will learn a huge amount over the next half an hour or so.

We thank our naming sponsor AdvantageGo - enabling underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making:

https://www.advantagego.com/

We also thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) for their support today:

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

Alex Maloney has been running the Lancashire group of companies for six-and-a-half years.

For much of that time the business has been keeping its powder dry waiting for a moment to exploit a change in market conditions and resume growth.

That moment seemed to come in Q2 of this year, with a new equity capital raise.

In this interview I ask Alex all about his plans to deploy this renewed firepower.

I found him invigorated and looking to expand aggressively and diversify in the new year as large segments of the market come back and business flows change.

I also got to know a little more of the singular and strong character that has made this business both an outlier and an outperformer since its foundation 15 years ago.

We thank our naming sponsor AdvantageGo - enabling underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making:

https://www.advantagego.com/

We also thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) for their support today:

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

 

Mapfre Re is a top 20 global reinsurer but it probably doesn’t have the public profile that this size should command.

Given my insurance work experience in the Spanish market I thought this was a wrong that needed righting.

Mapfre Re has many peculiarities, not least that it is one of the few reinsurers to still be part of a major global insurance group decades after it became fashionable to divest and separate insurance from reinsurance.

It also looks after the reinsurance buying for its global top 20 insurer parent.

This gives it a unique perspective of the market, which I think you will find refreshing.

Mapfre Re CEO Eduardo Perez de Lema is a frank and eloquent interviewee and in this episode he gives us an unambiguous view on what he is expecting from the 1.1 renewals and the long-term sustainable partner philosophy at the heart of his firm’s strategy.

We thank our naming sponsor AdvantageGo - enabling underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making:

https://www.advantagego.com/

We also thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) for their support today:

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

I’ve known David Howden for a very long time. When I became a broker in 1992 he was the wholesale D&O specialist who looked after a big book of business for the Spanish broker I worked for.

When Aon took over that broker it was my cue to go off and become a journalist and for him it fired the starting gun on an adventure that doesn’t show any sign of stopping.

That’s why this episode is a bit special. It’s also a bit longer than usual.

A good interview is a bit like a portrait and the art of the interviewer is to coax the interviewee to reveal perhaps more of themselves than they were originally planning to.

David doesn’t really need much coaxing because he is always himself, and the most remarkable thing about him is that he hasn’t changed at all in the last 28 years.

Here we talk about everything you would expect to talk about, but a lot more. For instance this is the first interview I’ve ever done where poetry has been recited.

Today I really think you will get to see what makes David tick and understand what has driven him to be the most successful insurance entrepreneur of his generation.

We thank our naming sponsor AdvantageGo - enabling underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making:

https://www.advantagego.com/

We also thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) and Insurtech Gateway for their support today:

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

https://insurtechgateway.com/

In today’s episode we meet a strong broker of many years’ experience and with subject expertise and contacts that many would take multiple careers to accumulate. She has had a senior career at many of the top independent brokers.

Over recent times I have come to know and respect her as one of those people that always speaks their mind and comes as a breath of fresh air with their own perspective on what is happening in the marketplace.

Vanessa Macdonald Smith is a former CEO of JLT Fac and is now in a new role as Executive Director and Head of D&F at Oneglobal Broking.

She has a broad and senior view of the market but has her feet close enough on the ground to be fully in touch.

In this podcast we look at today’s hard market and OneGlobal’s plans to grow into it, the opportunity for independents as the big brokers consolidate and what it is like to be a senior woman working in a time of cultural turmoil and great change.

I always enjoy time spent with Vanessa and I think you will too.

---------

We thank our naming sponsor AdvantageGo - enabling underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making:

https://www.advantagego.com/

We also thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) for their support today:

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

Today’s guest is someone with a long history of implementing technology into the Insurance Market.

Bart Patrick, Managing Director, Europe for Duck Creek really understands the demands of the industry and the sometimes fractious and strained relationship with technology that it has had over the years.

Well all of that is changing and this discussion is all about how that is going to come about.

With the advent of cloud computing the industry finally has an opportunity to leave technology to the experts and simply get on with doing what it does best – market, transact and execute innovative insurance deals.

In this brave new world, the software and systems we use are becoming simply a utility that we can avail ourselves of and don’t have to own and maintain anymore.

What’s more the best platforms can now allow us to configure them in the way we want to work and let us plug in any of the tools we want to use to help us do our jobs better and compete in the marketplace. This is what people are describing as an ecosystem.

But transitioning away from legacy systems that are in fact many systems all bolted together is not easy, particularly if we have limited budgets and the massively important requirement that nothing falls over while we are making the switch to the new way of working.

Technical debt is the difference between what you should be spending on innovation and the amount of money you are spending on just keeping the old inefficient systems running.

This talk explains how to get out of this debt.

My role in this discussion is to be the layman with insurance knowledge and make sure Patrick doesn’t get bogged down in technical jargon.

Luckily Patrick is a great explainer who knows how to talk to insurance people.

I recommend this podcast to anyone wanting to gain a broad understanding of what our legacy industry tech problems are, where the future lies and more importantly, how we are going to get there.

Many thanks to Duck Creek Technologies for their support today.

Find out more at: https://www.duckcreek.com/

 

I’ve got to know the interviewees in today’s episode quite well over the last few years.

That means I have been able to follow closely their remarkable journey from small subsidiary of the Hyperion Group to an independent employee-owned MGA writing over 500 million dollars of premium in 2020 and still projecting organic growth of 20% in 2021.

So how have David Walsh and Graeme Newman of CFC Underwriting done it?

I think one of the most striking things is what a partnership these two entrepreneurs make and how their characters compliment each other.

It is hard to think of one without the other and of CFC without either of them.

They’re also a notch below the average age of many among their peers and I think this translates to a slightly more progressive feel for the business.

But you should listen for yourself and make up your own mind.

In this episode we talk a lot about CFC’s core line of cyber insurance and building a long-term comparative advantage, its response to the Covid pandemic, what David and Graeme’s long-term plans are for CFC and how the firm is trying to distil its entrepreneurial culture as it begins to grow beyond its core London roots.

It’s a great discussion and one which I would highly recommend to any budding entrepreneurs out there looking for pointers to see how it’s done.

We thank our naming sponsor AdvantageGo - enabling underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making:

https://www.advantagego.com/

We also thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) and Insurtech Gateway for their support today.

Here are links to their websites:

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

https://insurtechgateway.com/

Welcome to the Voice of Insurance in association with Advantage Go -

enabling Underwriters to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making.

It was great experience recording today’s episode because it was the first time since the Covid 19 crisis began that I was able to do an interview face to face instead of a video call.

And it seemed even more poignant that this first face to face interview should be at Lloyd’s – the only physical marketplace where insurance is traded by multiple counterparties all in the same room.

Technology has been a saviour for all of us in these difficult times, but I think this interview shows that there are some elements of genuine human social interaction that it can never replace.

Tasked with turning the market’s performance around and driving through a revolutionary programme of reform, John Neal has needed all his charm and skills of communication to convince the market to change the way it does almost everything.

Here you can see his skills to great effect.

He is incredibly personable, approachable and down to earth and certainly doesn’t get angered by any of my more provocative questions. Or at least if he does he doesn’t show it.

Instead the main weapon he deploys is a stark honesty and candidness that is refreshing and endearing.

In our time together we discuss the Lloyd’s 2021 business planning process and whether Lloyd’s is striking the right balance between performance and growth, the coming revolution from the imminent Blueprint 2 reform plans, what makes a good underwriter, personal conduct and the impact of the culture survey, climate change and the insurance of fossil fuels, the potential impact of the Aon-Willis merger on the market and John’s personal feelings about his role.

I didn’t cut anything out because it’s all too good to miss.

I also didn’t over edit it, because I wanted you to be able feel that you too are inside number 1 Lime street on the 11th floor, sitting in with John and I as the recorders are switched on and the discussion gets going.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

LINKS

We thank our supporters today.

Our naming sponsor AdvantageGo
https://www.advantagego.com/

Claims Direct Access
https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

Bolton Associates
https://www.bolton-associates.co.uk/

and WCL
https://webconnectivityltd.com/

The seeds for today’s episode were sown at a meeting in Chicago in the early Spring of 2019.

I had been chairing a conference there and was making the most of the trip by visiting as many of the insurance people with their offices in the Windy City.

So it was that I met today’s guest for the first time over breakfast in the centre of town.

It was a great meeting – my host was full of energy and incredibly excited over the prospects for the Excess and Surplus lines (E&S) market.

He was a real broker’s broker and someone who leads from the front. I remember he had to break off our breakfast chat briefly to take a call relating to a placement that he was personally involved in.

We had been waiting for the market to harden for over fifteen years and this was the first time a well-placed senior executive was sitting in front of me telling me it was finally starting.

He explained that his organisation was gearing up for what he described as "the dump" that was on its way.

The dump is when admitted lines carriers have had enough of losses and non-renew or dump their most unprofitable business en masse. This flow then finds its way into the only other available channel open to it - the E&S market.

Tim Turner is the T in RT Specialty - one of the largest and probably soon to be the largest wholesale broker in the biggest wholesale insurance market in the world.

Given the size and scale of RT Specialty and the wider RSG Group his view of the market can’t be bettered.

18 months after that meeting and all of Tim’s predictions have come to pass and that is why I was really happy to be able to get a follow-up with him for the Voice of insurance.

With billions of dollars of deals running through his organisation he is one of a very select band of people with a feel for how long the hardening market might last and how deep it will hit.

As a major producer his view also matters a huge amount to the major overflow wholesale markets of Bermuda and London.

He’s also great company and buzzing with energy. I highly recommend a listen to what he has to say.

LINK:

We thank Claims Direct Access (CDA) for their support today.

https://www.claimsdirectaccess.com/

We all know about the protection gap and financial sustainability and resilience goals for the developing world set by global bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations.

We also know about the massive growth potential of many emerging economies and the role the insurance industry can play in enabling and accelerating its development.

This episode goes into the detail of how to approach this major opportunity and answers some common questions and upends many common misconceptions.

How much is insurance understood in developing nations? Is it seen simply as aid? Also how well are its strengths understood by donor nations? Should this kind of insurance be aiming for profit from day one, or should it be more patient?

How do we overcome modelling gaps and potentially crippling distribution costs in some of these nations?

Will the realities of harder international markets and Covid 19 put development goals on the back burner?

To answer these questions it was a great privilege to be joined by Dame Inga Beale and Lesley NdLovu of the African Risk Capacity Group (ARC).

Both have pioneered work in this field and give a strong and practical flavour to this podcast. I highly recommend a listen.

It might convince you that far from being just corporate social responsibility and the right thing to do, this is actually one of the brightest long-term opportunities in the global insurance market.

Today’s special episode has been organised by the Commonwealth Insurance Forum – the CIF and kindly sponsored by the ARC.

Set up in September 2019 the Forum was co-founded and is chaired by London market veteran Francis de Zulueta of Alpine Risk

Alpine Risk currently manages the CIF.

Co founded with Robert Lyle, co-founder of specialist London broker BPL, this not-for-profit organisation is seeking to ignite and accelerate insurance collaboration at all levels between the members of the 54-nation Commonwealth with the added support of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.

The Commonwealth Insurance Forum has been formed as the UK is deepening and rapidly accelerating global trade links within the Commonwealth after leaving the European Union and will seek to build insurance co-operation, education and networking based on the common legal and cultural ties that bind the global Commonwealth of Nations together for the mutual benefit of all members.

LINKS

African Risk Capacity:

https://www.africanriskcapacity.org

The Forum can be contacted on Cif@alpineriskservices.com  or directly via Francis de Zulueta on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/alpine1/

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