“My belief is that we need to understand regulation and make customer experience a positive one.
You can then allow clients to focus on business in the knowledge that they have a fit-for-purpose product.”
– Steve Hart
Our new Divisional Director, Steve Hart, was recently interviewed by the Insurance Insider’s, Insider Quarterly magazine. The Q&A session discusses the challenges for the Delegated Authority market and what opportunities Steve sees arising.
IQ: You have recently joined Shepherd Compello, but have a vast experience in the Delegated Authority market. Tell us more.
Steve Hart (SH): Yes, I am new to Shepherd Compello and I will take describing me as having ‘vast experience’ as a compliment! The opportunity to join the team was exciting for several reasons. Primarily because Shepherd Compello already has a strong book built by the current team led by Chris Hatt. I have been working closely with Chris, before he relocates with his family to the United States. That leads me onto the final and in many ways most important reason – the family culture at Shepherd Compello. I already feel part of that family and, on behalf of everyone in the business, we wish Chris every success in the future.
IQ: Regulation is a hot topic in the market. What are the issues and how should we face them?
SH: There is certainly a lot of talk in the market and for that matter around the world about high levels of regulation. For some, particularly in the broking market, it is a source of frustration as it can feel like regulators are tripping over one another in a compliance land grab. This situation can then be exacerbated by different regulation in local markets and the potential for mixed messages and misunderstandings. Personally, while I empathise, I do not share this view. I think we need to embrace regulation and create a clear, positive message for clients. Professionalism and integrity are core pillars of the Shepherd Compello proposition. I feel we need to use this to our advantage, especially if we are serious about treating customers fairly.
In the long-term everyone benefits as we can foster and develop mutually beneficial relationships. My belief is that we need to understand regulation and make the customer experience a positive one. You can then allow clients to focus on business in the knowledge that they have a fit-for-purpose product.
IQ: Disrupters, blockchain and online dealing are hot topics – what does this mean for you?
SH: We have seen how disrupters like Uber and Airbnb have revolutionised the taxi and hotel markets. So being in denial that the insurance industry is in some kind of safety bubble is short sighted at best and dangerous at worst. As for blockchain, this is already happening – this year, one consortium has just increased their insurance base to fifteen. Blockchain will ask questions of our current business model, supply chain and efficiencies. You can view this as a threat, or a driver to look at the way we work and make improvements that benefit our clients. For example, if we turn to online trading, this may be right for some, but not necessarily all. An online rating for flood risks near the coast may by default create a soft market, driving down prices that may not be sustainable. A face-to-face meeting with an underwriter can still be quick and crucially, deliver cover and a rate that is better for the customer in the long-term.
IQ: So how should we deal with these threats?
SH: There is no doubt that in every sphere, not just insurance, we are facing rapid change, but I think it was Darwin who said ‘it’s not the strongest who survive, but those most adaptable to change.’
We all need to adapt, change and add value. I see some blurred lines in the delegated authority chain which can lead to antagonism rather than collaboration. This need not be the case and it is certainly in everyone’s interests to collaborate for the benefit of the end client.
I have benefitted from working on both the underwriting and broking side, so I feel I can understand the different standpoints. If you look at the stakeholders as three points of a triangle; carrier, broker and coverholder, the tripartite arrangement should allow each to add value. The broker is the conduit to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship. If the broker considers the pressures at every point of the triangle I feel that we can mitigate them and utilize the London Market’s ability to be agile and act quickly for the end client.
IQ: One of the areas you are focussing on is High Net Worth Homeowners, what are your views on this market?
SH: I think it is a buoyant market which demands the specialist attention Shepherd Compello can provide. In terms of both cover and pricing this is a niche market where insight and knowledge are crucial. For example, the North American market is one that can benefit from the catastrophe capacity available in London.
The need for capacity is reinforced by the recent World Economic Forum Risk report which stated that extreme weather events are now the number one risk. Add to this that flooding and wind damage were the most destructive natural hazards in the USA in 2016 and you can see that these are immediate threats that require a robust approach to underwriting. For some time there have been questions about the ability of insurers based in states like Florida to provide sustainable pricing. We are now starting to see some reaction from ratings agencies. One of these, Demotech, has suspended ratings for 57 Florida based insurers because of ‘an uncertain operating environment in the state.’ For any insured this news will be alarming and I feel that the greater certainty that the London Market can offer will be of keen interest to High Value Homeowners in the region.
IQ: How would you summarise your thoughts on the future?
SH: Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It Is clear to me that anyone in the insurance market who is complacent enough to think it is fine to ‘do the same thing’ should heed Albert’s words. However, in the London Market I am confident that this is not, nor will it be the case. Our market is the oldest in the world because it has adapted, changed and improved. Yes, we face new challenges, but we have the skills and experience which mean we are uniquely placed to offer innovative insurance solutions.
Follow Steve Hart on LinkedIn.
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