Our CEO, John Shepherd, was recently interviewed by the Insurance Insider’s, Insider Quarterly magazine. The Q&A session discusses a number of topics, including why the London market needs to face up to change.

Below is the article, which can also be found online here.

Insider Quarterly (IQ): Why are you launching Shepherd Compello?

John Shepherd: In short, because I believe in the need to drive forward. Throughout my career in the insurance world I have believed in seeking new opportunities and ventures. In a way the name Shepherd Compello encapsulates this.
It draws upon two elements. Shepherd reflects the history and being part of one flock. Second, we are opening an exciting new chapter and Compello is Latin, meaning to drive forward.

IQ: What do clients think about your new venture?

John Shepherd: The response from clients has been overwhelming. We had in excess of 250 guests at the launch party and it was refreshing to feel the buzz and anticipation. It reaffirmed my belief that there is a need for something new for both clients and markets.
At the launch I referenced Darwin, who said it is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Our clients and markets see this need for change. They want creativity and the fact that we question and challenge in a positive way.

IQ: Does the London market need an evolution or revolution?

John Shepherd: I have been in this market a long time and I have seen huge changes. I read with interest the joint London Market Group (LMG) and Boston Consulting Group report on the challenges the £60bn London market faces. They fear that without change, London could become irrelevant.

I hear their point and it is a wake-up call that just because London has been the centre of the insurance universe for over 300 years it does not mean we should take that for granted. The world moves on. There are new markets and new clients, which is why I drew the analogy with Darwin. It is not about evolution or revolution, it is about responding to change, not having it imposed upon us.

Yet, Shepherd Compello is based at the heart of the London market for a reason and that is because London is a driving force.

IQ: So what changes do you see?

John Shepherd: I reinforce what Inga Beale said at a recent event about the opportunities the London market needs to grasp. In many ways she echoed the LMG report. She talked about turning challenges into opportunities, especially in emerging markets. As I recall she stated that there has only been about 0.5 percent growth in emerging markets business placed in London over the last few years.

So, on the one hand that is not a good statistic, but if we grasp it, it is a huge opportunity. That resonates with me and helps explain why we have set up Shepherd Compello. We want to look out at where those business opportunities are and bring our experience and creative ideas to clients so that they receive a better solution than they can expect locally. So for me the big change is in mindset. We can’t afford to be complacent, but we need to reflect on the value of London and adapting to meet client needs.

IQ: What are you doing to respond to change?

John Shepherd: We are in a global economy, which moves at an ever increasing pace. One only has to note recent Lloyd’s major ventures to appreciate that challenges can become opportunities.

At Shepherd Compello, we work across all five continents and to do this we have invested in the latest technology and systems. Also, those systems need to be supported by people who can work on a global platform. So, as an example, our service teams are multilingual. In addition, we see it as essential that we regularly visit our clients to understand their needs in their territory, yet at the same time explain to them why we can give them better solutions than they can achieve locally.

IQ: So is the future bright?

John Shepherd: Of course it is. You know, John F Kennedy once said: “Some men see things as they are and say why? But I dream things that never were and I say, why not?” I like that attitude and so do our clients. As I said earlier, they like the fact that we challenge and question in a positive way. Yes of course the world economy has been through a seismic change that frankly very few predicted – whatever they said after the event. Even Alan Greenspan admitted he never saw the crash of 2008 coming. Yet I have seen many market cycles, insurance and economic, and we have come through them.

The answer is not taking a Mr Micawber “something will turn up” approach. The answer is having the right people, the right attitude and a belief that you control your own destiny. We have a new team and a great balance of dynamism and experience. As an example, Holly Shepherd was named young broker of the year as well as receiving the International Women’s Day Award. I am very proud of her and the rest of the team, as they provide tangible evidence of why the future is bright.

IQ: What happens next?

John Shepherd: We will continue to adapt and grow, there are new markets and new people joining Shepherd Compello.

I believe that with the right attitude, willingness to adapt and desire to embrace new markets, the London market will continue to lead the insurance world.

London is a centre of insurance excellence, it needs to remember that, but at the same time constantly ask how it can drive forward. I for one support that, not least as it reflects the Shepherd Compello philosophy.

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