The London Market in a changing landscape: A Q&A with Steven Watson and Mandy Hunt

Steven Watson, Director of London Market at RSA and Mandy Hunt, Chief Underwriting Officer, give their views on the London Market, why it’s important to have a robust and resilient London Market presence and how it can be used to benefit our broker and customer relationships.

What is RSA’s reach into the London Market and how are we performing?

We continue to have a balanced portfolio across the London Market, with clients ranging from marine, property, power, engineering, renewables and  real estate.

It’s a challenging market but one that also brings opportunity. We’re confident and performing well. And what I really mean by performing well is not just that the book is in good shape, but that we have continued to serve our customers and have maintained contact throughout the year so far.

Looking forward, we’re helping customers to really utilise our risk management capabilities so we can help them navigate and overcome the uncertainties that so many businesses are currently facing.

 

The London Market has been heavily hit by Covid-19, how have RSA reacted to this?

This isn’t just a London Market issue, the entire insurance industry has been impacted by Covid-19 and as a result we’ve all had to adapt, be flexible, and explore new ways of working, whilst continuing to serve our customers.

However, the most important thing and something we can’t lose sight of, is that there are businesses out there that really need our support. We need to be there for them and that’s something we’ve worked hard on ever since lockdown started and Covid-19 took hold.

We’ve put in place a number of different things to try and keep brokers and customers informed, such as working with them to continually update a broad set of FAQs on our website. We’ve also offered risk management support and guidance where required, which is vital in helping certain clients and businesses get back on their feet, wherever their operations are located globally.

 

In your opinion what are the opportunities for RSA and how can we take advantage of these?

RSA wants to be a consistent player across any of the portfolios we’re in. We want to be partners with customers and brokers for the long term, and that means ensuring we are delivering consistently in our London market teams. We’ve invested in capability and risk consulting to make sure we have a full proposition for customers who have unique requirements and want to talk to experts. Whilst growth is important, looking after all customers is at the heart of what we do and that knowledge enables us to work to win more than one policy per customer and ensuring we complement our strategic plan.

One way of capitalising on these opportunities is by leveraging our risk consulting capabilities. We have experts in a whole host of fields, ranging from chemical to rail to automotive risk management experts who can talk the same language as our customers. The added value a customer can achieve from talking to someone who truly understands the complexities and considerations of their specific sector is invaluable, especially when uncertainty is still so prevalent.

 

Why is it important to have a robust and resilient London Market presence?

The London Market remains one of the most important insurance markets in the world. All essential company markets are represented and of course everyone knows Lloyds of London and what it offers.

To be a key global player means we have to have a strong London Market presence. For us that means a consistent approach to our portfolios, so we’re here for the long term and able to serve our customers in that way.

 

How does this benefit our broker and customer relationships?

The benefit is that brokers want solutions for all of their customers, both large and small, and we’re happy to play in both of these areas. On the flip side, the areas we don’t operate in, we need to be clear about, not play around the edges and unintentionally confuse brokers.

Our current commercial lines structure has been created to make it really clear to brokers where we operate and where we don’t. We want to make it easy for brokers to place business with us, especially the business that fits in with our appetite.

 

How do you see a hardening market affect the insurance marketplace and how will this impact on us and London Market in general?

The insurance market has cycles of hard and soft markets.  When I started my career there were lots of variants in that. In the last 15 years we’ve traded in a very soft market, which always puts pressure on pricing and returns and we have had less investment opportunity considering the global economic environment.

There is no doubt that markets are hardening, in part spurred on by Covid-19, but some hardening was already taking place. It’s important to continue to work with our customers to build stronger, sustainable relationships despite a market that may bring about higher rates and pressure on capacity.

 

Do you see technology as an opportunity or threat to London Market operations?

Technology absolutely has a part to play, but data can only tell you so much.  It gives us insight that we would never be able to do ourselves, but we still need people to understand, analyse and take that personal view on how we apply it. We should be using technology where we think it can enhance work we’re already doing to be the best that we can be.