What makes a good underwriter
Welcome to Insurance Covered! The podcast that looks at the inner workings of the insurance industry with the help of expert guests. Our guest this week is Ben Bolton, Managing Director of Gracechurch Consulting and we will be discussing what makes a great underwriter.
We start by discussing what the key trends in the insurance market currently are according to studies and research carried out by Gracechurch. Ben explains that there are 5 key trends which are;
Consolidation: Market analysis shows a shift towards consolidation which has major impacts on the market, it ratchets up the competition amongst the largest insurers with more and more of the premiums going to the top 15 firms and less so to the smaller operators in the market., who as a result find themselves needing to find ways of surviving, many going the way of mergers or outright acquisitions.
Talent: The need to continue to develop talent internally but also the need to bring in talent from other industry backgrounds to broaden the skill pool, particularly as the industry continues to become more customer focused.
Reputation & service: "We are seeing a move to a more customer focused offering, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcome of the BI COVID-19 cases has reinforced the need to build trust with clients. What is quite a negative will ultimately, I think bring change as it brings the conversation of building trust into the boardroom"
Technology: The introduction of technology to a very traditional market will help transform the industry. The Lloyd's Blueprint's show the direction the market is going. Ben identifies trading systems as a key area that will see technology development.
Segmentation and specialisation: Due to competition and size of the insurance market, it's not feasible to be a generic all encompassing firm, you need to have areas where you can demonstrate specialism and competitive advantage in comparison to your competitors.
We then discuss specifically what makes a good underwriter, drawing on the results of a recent survey carried out by Gracechurch. Ben explains the survey collects information on underwriters on a variety of different criteria, from hard metrics such as profitability to softer intangibles like reputation in the market amongst clients and peers. Ben explains the answer to 'what makes a good underwriter' has two sides. One is the pure financial side, the underwriters that bring in the big money. The more proactive underwriters, those who refreshed their portfolios, changed things up, were the more successful. Then there is the other side which the report by Gracechurch explores, personal characteristics, such as whether they had a fixed or growth mindset, or how outgoing they are.
Finally, we discuss if these attributes are likely to change in 5-10 years or whether the characteristics coupled with the profitability is going to continue to be the formula for a top underwriter.
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