Today’s guest is someone I have known for almost 30 years. That’s because I used to broker business to him back in the 1990s when I was working in the London Market.
Back then he was making a name for himself as a lead market in the international casualty class at UK composite Eagle Star.
As my career changed completely his took off and at QBE Europe he swiftly rose the ranks to become its most senior underwriting executive.
Then eight years ago he left to pursue the dream of founding a Lloyd’s business of his own.
Anyone who met Ash Bathia CEO of Probitas 1492 thirty years ago will have marked out as someone with the ambition and drive to make a real impact on the market.
And as it turned out Ash was going to need all of that drive and a lot more. Probitas had as tough a start in life as it is possible to have.
Born right at the nadir of one of the longest soft markets in history, Probitas was hit hard by the unexpected loss of its cornerstone capital provider and extremely challenging early underwriting numbers in its ramp-up years.
Almost all of its peers folded or were actively shuttered by Lloyd’s itself in its recent remediation phase.
But today Probitas is a top Lloyd’s performer and is pre-empting capacity and scaling up as market conditions continue to turn in its favour.
Interviewing Ash was just like broking to him all those years ago. He hasn’t changed much.
He is still smart, sharp and direct with great charm. And he is a great trader, problem-solver and dealmaker in the classic Lloyd’s entrepreneurial tradition.
The difference is that to those skills you can now add maturity, humility and the wisdom that comes from starting and running a business of his own.
These days Ash has one hell of a story to tell.
I’m just grateful that he let me be the first to get it out of him.
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