Monday 5 August 2013 – Lloyd’s underwriters took all top ten slots in a recent ranking of London’s 50 leading underwriters published by Gracechurch Consulting in July. Ben Bolton, the company’s Managing Director, explains what marks the top ten out from the rest of the pack. (source: Lloyd’s of London)
All of London’s top ten underwriters are at Lloyd’s, why is this?
Lloyd’s underwriters have always enjoyed a more prominent status – Lloyd’s syndicates used to be known by the name of the active underwriter whereas underwriters in the London market were just part of wider companies – but it is also a reflection of the market. Brokers meet Lloyd’s underwriters face to face on the underwriting floor and that is appealing to brokers and helps create trust. Relationships are becoming more important, not less.
What marks these underwriters out from the rest?
These top ten leading underwriters are individuals that can develop strong relationships and demonstrate a great deal of empathy and understanding. They see brokers as their business partners, anticipating the needs of both the broker and their client, and helping them work through difficult transactions.
Do they demonstrate other notable skills?
They are all individuals but they also have good teams behind them. Best practice in the market is all about teams, not just the individuals. So team leadership is now very important. Many of these guys have excellent deputies, which helps create availability and allows them to get out and develop new business opportunities.
Why are these underwriters good at growing their business?
They are seen to be interested in new business and are proactive. They have an eye for a deal and are not just stuck at the underwriting box – they travel much more.
Are communications skills the secret of their success?
An underwriter’s technical ability will win respect from other underwriters. But these guys can also talk about relationships. They have good listening and negotiation skills – they are much stronger on the softer skills. They are also the people that front the business. They are presentable to clients and can explain complex issues without resorting to jargon.
Is the Lloyd’s market adapting to changes in global insurance environment?
What we see now is a shift to a more external mode of operation. Traditionally, the market has been inward looking and very focussed on numbers. Underwriters were not concerned with what the brokers – as a proxy for the client – were looking for. The brokers want long term relationships, solutions, and they like underwriters that can communicate their risk appetite and agree a deal quickly.
Ranking Name / Organisation
1 Mark Pepper – Ascot
2= Clive Washbourn – Beazley
2=Dominick Hoare – Watkins
2=Richard Trubshaw – MAP
5 Chris Jones – Kiln
6 Neil Chapman – Argo International
7 Nigel Tatlock – Liberty Syndicates
8= Philip Sandle – Beazley
8= Richard Golder – Catlin
8= Richard Williams – Cathedral
What about growth in emerging markets?
The leading underwriters are the market pioneers. They don’t wait for passing trade. They take their expertise out on the road – and are seen as bringing fantastic value and expertise to these markets.
How can the market learn from these underwriters?
The underwriters at the top of the list are facilitators of business. They are not people that sit in ivory towers. They get out and see what is happening out there. They are also more aligned to clients’ needs – if you can deliver that then you have relevance and can add value.
You also identified the leading insurers in London.
What are they doing right?
The top ten underwriting companies employ 69% of the top 50 underwriters, which just goes to show the importance of building a good team. Some companies also try to create a culture of building relationships across their underwriting teams. Many do not yet manage relationships across teams and they do not cross-sell opportunities as often as they could – but this is something they must do better if they are to grow the market.
Why were there no women among the top ranks, especially given current recognition of the need for a more diverse pool of talent?
One of the most frequently asked questions this year is where are the women underwriters? There are in fact only 6% of female underwriters in the whole ranking which shows a clear need for the profession to attract more women, especially because the female underwriters who do get mentioned are exceptionally well regarded.
London’s Leading Underwriters is the result of interviews with over 500 brokers and 200 underwriters in the London market. Underwriters are ranked based on the number of mentions from brokers. Mark Pepper of Ascot was ranked highest, followed by Clive Washbourn of Beazley and Dominick Hoare of Watkins Syndicate in equal second. The leading insurer was Catlin, followed by Amlin and QBE – all three operate at Lloyd’s.