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Interim CEO Jonathan Clarke on the past, present and future of the CII

Clarke went on to become the CII’s treasurer between 2003 and 2007 and was appointed president in 2018, with his driving theme being the development of a united profession. For him, he said, the key was to be united around standards and professionalism, as well as the diversity of the activities that insurance professionals are involved with and, perhaps most importantly, the diversity of the customers they serve and their diverse needs.

“During my year as CII president, I travelled the country visiting various local institutes, attending all kinds of interesting and diverse events,” he said, “and witnessing the tremendous work our members do every day to promote the standards and professionalism of our sector. Being out here and meeting members and the customers we serve in their hometowns is a great way to both see the value of what we do and also to learn about what we might do better, or in a more helpful way.”

In his time as president, Clarke said he was continually reminded of how important it is for insurance professionals to also make time to celebrate their successes, be that through exam awards or during the Public Trust Awards, which speak to professionalism in a truly positive way. One of the dangers in taking on a position like CII president is that you’ve been involved for a while, he said, and it is easy to assume you know how things work and what members are looking for. It is those visits to local institutes that keep you grounded and aware of the importance of keeping the CII relevant, he explained.

Exploring that relevancy, Clarke highlighted that 2022 marks 125-years since local institutes came together to form the federation which would evolve into the CII, a professional body worthy of a Royal Charter to raise public trust in the profession. Reflecting on that history, and the impact of the pandemic on the profession and the public the institute serves, he said, he still sees evolution.

“The Federation’s initial aim was to produce technical papers – akin to the good practice guidance issued via the [CII]’s Societies of insurance and personal finance professionals today – and to establish examinations,” he said. “Our first president remarked: ‘The demand of the day is for technical education in every branch of skilled industry. Is, then, instruction in insurance business not to advance with the times?’

“At the start of the 20th century, CII president F.W. Pascoe Rutter noted: ‘Working together, as one united profession, we will drive confidence in the power of professional standards.’ The [CII]’s leadership recognises that we must continue to evolve to meet the needs of insurance and personal finance professionals for relevant learning and a benchmark for professional standards.”

It was this thinking that was behind the launch of the Shaping the future together consultation in 2021, he said, an initiative that encouraged members to share their views on proposals for how the CII will work. The CII will share the findings of the consultation, and how it will help shape the group’s work to ensure it continues to raise trust in the insurance profession, this year.

Read more: Applauding insurance’s New Generation

Clarke noted that Fisher’s announcement last year that she would leave the CII on March 31 was consciously timed to see through the Shaping the Future together consultation process, cover the 2021 financial year-end and ensure her permanent successor would be able to take forward the board’s refreshed strategy and the next five-year plan for the CII.

It was to ensure continuity during 2022, that he been appointed as interim CEO until the permanent CEO is in place, he said, and the recruitment process for a new CEO is well underway and being led by the CII’s chair, Dr Helen Phillips, and the CII board.

“As a past president and CII treasurer between 2003 and 2007,” he said, “I am aware of the wonderful work the institute, along with the local institute, membership society, practitioner panel and regional committee volunteers, do to raise trust in the insurance and personal finance profession. I hope to couple my deep understanding of our organisation with my expertise from working in the insurance profession, links with the personal finance profession and engagement with regulators to bring immediate benefits to the CII as a professional body and to our members.”

His role is to keep the CII looking forward and allow the new CEO, when appointed, to step into the job and develop the strategy to take the CII into the next period. The organisation has had a successful consultation with members, he said, and will want to look at what that means for the institute, and to produce a deliverable plan for the organisation and its members.

Looking to his own points of focus during his tenure as interim CEO, Clarke highlighted that he wants the insurance and personal finance profession to utilise the diversity of its skills to continue to make a positive impact on the financial resilience of society. For many years, he said, his hobby has been sailing – a sport that embodies teamwork. Teamwork is something he has always believed is incredibly important.

“In the way the CII is structured, we have a great opportunity to work together,” he said. “Working together, we can train, teach, mentor, inform and educate each other and, in the process, we can help foster the trust in our profession that we all want to see. A friend’s mother used to say ‘we are all special, we are all unique’. I believe my role is to foster that sense of inclusiveness that allows us to build the team here at CII. But we must respect that our members have individual needs while still being in so many cases part of teams delivering on the wide range of financial services we collectively offer our customers. 

“Professionalism in all we do in financial planning and advice and insurance is a key plank in public trust.”


Last call to join Insurance Business UK’s Fast Brokerages report

Last call to join Insurance Business UK's Fast Brokerages report

Don’t miss the chance to be featured in Insurance Business UK’s Fast Brokerages 2022 report. If your brokerage enjoyed a year of increased revenue, headcount growth, and other milestones, this showcase is the right platform for you.

Participation in this annual ranking provides a wealth of opportunity for businesses looking to build their profile in the industry. Winners will be featured on the Insurance Business UK website and gain access to exclusive marketing and promotional opportunities designed to amplify their achievement across multiple channels.

Submit your entries before the deadline this Friday, January 28.

The Fast Brokerages 2022 report will be published on the Insurance Business UK website and in an official e-report in April.

Submit a nomination form here.


CEO on the key to MGA success in 2022

The last 18 months have seen many MGAs negatively impacted by the uncertainty and upheaval of the COVID-19 crisis, with those firms operating in the travel contingency and hospitality insurance markets especially affected. Zeroing in on some of the key problem areas that he is currently seeing impact the industry, Keating highlighted that, first and foremost, all MGAs need to look after their capacity.

“That’s the first principle,” he said. “They are an agent of the insurer, they’re there to underwrite profitably so, therefore, you have to look after your capacity.”

Looking to specific segments of the economy, such as hospitality which has been shut down or limited for the bulk of two years now, clearly indicates where MGAs have displayed agility in that they have been able to shift gears and mitigate challenging market conditions. Some MGAs have been able to pivot, he said, in a bid to service and assist their clients during the lockdowns, and by negotiating with their respective insurers in terms of reduction in coverage or where they’re not operating but still need to recover assets.

Read more: Mike Keating on turning challenges into opportunities for the MGA sector

“MGAs have again been very active and proactive in terms of doing that and in looking after customers in those sectors,” Keating said.“[While, at the same time,] MGAs have been able to pivot and look at other sorts of product opportunities during that lockdown period. Again, the themes I’m sure you recognise are the nimbleness, agility and entrepreneurship of MGAs to quickly respond to customer and client needs. And that is something which is unmatched and unrivalled elsewhere in our profession.”

Find out more: Listen to some of the biggest names across the sector discuss the impact of COVID-19 on MGAs


A patient kicked me out of my own window

Among the most unusual payouts Aviva had to make, however, was for a shop owner who claimed that a misguided sheep leapt through his showroom window, shattering it into bits, before disappearing.

The insurer also revealed the 1978 case of a London hotel keeper who suffered a blow to the eye from the cork of a champagne bottle he was opening. The worker successfully claimed £25 and ten shillings, or £20,120 in today’s money.

Read more: Insurance: the weird and wonderful

“As our records show, we’ve seen the strangest and most unusual claims, which goes to show that planning for the unexpected is good business practice,” said Nick Major, managing director of commercial lines at Aviva.

But apart from the strange, the company has also paid out on some of the most infamous and tragic events in the country’s history.

In 1963, Aviva insured some of the banknotes stolen in the Great Train Robbery involving a Royal Mail train going to London. The company paid out £1,091,340 and ten shillings, or equivalent to £59 million today.

Aviva also paid for a fishmonger’s van caught in the siege at the Libyan embassy in London following the fatal shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984. The vehicle was parked nearby and could not be moved until the siege ended 11 days later. By that time, the fish the van was carrying had already rotted. 

“Aviva has played an important role helping businesses protect what’s important to them, enabling them to continue to trade through good times and bad, something we have continued to focus on through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Major said.


DWF appoints insurance partner

DWF appoints insurance partner

A global provider of integrated legal and business services has appointed a new partner to its insurance team in London.

Joining DWF’s expanding professional liability team is Lucy Tolond, a financial services expert with 15 years of experience in the professional indemnity market. She was most recently a partner at BLM, where she worked for more than a decade.

Tolond specialises in defending claims for professional negligence against accountants, tax advisers, financial advisers, insurance brokers, mortgage intermediaries, insolvency practitioners, pension professionals and trustees. She regularly advises insurers on coverage issues and manages large numbers of claims. She has also assisted clients with large-scale redress exercises arising out of S166 Skilled Person Reviews. 

Tolond “has a strong reputation as a robust litigator with vast experience of managing wide portfolios of work including taking several high value claims to trial,” said Kieran Walshe, global head of professional indemnity and commercial insurance at DWF. “Her expertise in the financial services sector expertise will complement our client offering and I am delighted that she has chosen to join DWF’s expanding professional liability team.”


LIIBA to deal with “unprecedented pace” of change in 2022

LIIBA to deal with "unprecedented pace" of change in 2022

The London & International Insurance Brokers’ Association (LIIBA) has said it aims to put London’s insurance brokers at the heart of the debate about how best to achieve net zero carbon emissions, amid huge economic and cultural changes in the UK.

In its 2022 agenda, LIIBA said that the UK government’s aim to make London a global green finance hub meant that more than just banks must be involved. According to LIIBA, brokers have a major role to play in guiding the insurance industry’s transition to net zero.

The brokers’ body said it will also work with the government via the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Insurance and Financial Services to promote the “enormous opportunities” presented by London’s emergence as a centre of excellence for managing climate change.

Another major point on LIIBA’s 2022 agenda for is working with HM Treasury on its future regulatory framework, especially with influencing the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) understanding of the lower level of risk to the public posed by the wholesale insurance market. It will also work with UK trade commissioners to open up new markets around the world alongside the continuing liaison with the FCA itself.

“2021 was probably not quite the year that we all had hoped for in terms of our emergence from the pandemic,” said Christopher Croft, CEO of LIIBA. “But, in general, it was a successful one for our market against a backdrop of wholesale change. I think we made clear progress in our mission to create the regulatory, tax and operating environments vital for our members’ business to flourish. In 2022, we want to see the unnecessary regulatory burden our clients have to bear because of the FCA’s approach eased. The government’s proposed new competitiveness objective is welcome, but it will only translate into the more proportionate regulatory approach our export-focussed market needs if there is a fundamental change in culture at FCA.”

LIIBA hailed as one of its successes the HMRC’s decision not to pursue proposals to make insurance brokers responsible for unpaid insurance premium tax. Looking back at the previous year, LIIBA said that tightening domestic markets internationally have led to more business flowing into the London market, giving London a strong reputation for “championing its clients”.


David Howden on record-breaking results and plans for 2022

“[That’s] probably twice what most of our listed peers are reporting,” he said, “and that’s really a reflection of the health of our business, in terms of winning new clients and, critically, in attracting talent into our business to win those clients. When you break it down, 30% of that 19% came from the over 500 senior colleagues that joined us around the world and are really helping us develop new products, win new business and drive the business forward. To me, that’s the big barometer of our health and the first thing I always measure.”

Exploring that talent piece further, Howden said he believes a key differential of the insurance group is that it is a real magnet for talent. Howden recalled that when Peter Blanc [Aston Lark CEO] decided to bring Aston Lark into the group, he highlighted that he was looking for a “forever home” for the broking business. That’s a feeling that resonates within the market at the moment, he said, as a lot of people in the industry are becoming a bit disillusioned with some of the other models available and are open to exploring more long-term solutions.

Over 2,000 of Howden’s employees are shareholders in the business, which is proof of purchase of its long-term orientation, and Howden noted that being part of a business built for the long haul is an attractive proposition for many insurance professionals. It is attracting the interest of strong industry talent, he said, as they are drawn to a people-first business model that believes that attracting and retaining talent is the key to providing great client service. Short-term gain doesn’t interest Howden, rather the focus is on finding the longer-term opportunities available to the insurance market, and investing time and energy into those areas.

Where organic growth, as facilitated by a talent focus, is the first measurement of success for Howden, the second looks through an acquisitive lens. 2021 made for pleasant viewing, given the key strategic acquisitions completed last year which have taken the group into a prime position in the UK market. Howden now has 160 offices in the UK, with over 5,000 people looking after around 1.7 million policyholders and controlling about $8 billion of GWP in the UK market.

2021 saw Howden acquire both A-Plan Insurance and Aston Lark – and the combined businesses aim to offer the insurance market a new broking powerhouse. Craig noted that while the Aston Lark deal is still waiting for regulatory approval, it is expecting to complete the acquisition by March 31.

Read more: Aston Lark-Howden – a merger, a rebrand and what’s next?

“Peter, Carl [Shuker, A-Plan CEO] and I are very active already, working out exactly how we will bring these [businesses] together,” Howden said. “What we want to create in the UK, and beyond, is a very client-focused business. We’re looking at our clients and asking how we can show that – from an individual wanting a car insurance policy in Yeovil right through to the very largest financial institutions in the UK – we are relevant to them.

“[We’re asking] how we can build a business that provides all that expertise and all those products. All of our regional expertise is really going to be looking at clients’ needs, because it’s one thing insuring what clients need today but much more interesting is what the needs of our clients will be in the future. How can we listen to them and work out where insurance will be relevant? I think creating this new powerhouse is a very exciting opportunity. And certainly, Peter and Carl and lots of people in the group, have got a lot of work ahead of them as well as a lot of opportunities.”

After the success of last year, Craig noted that the group’s ambition for 2022 is “to grow at least as much as we grew last year”. Initial indications at the end of the first quarter are looking very promising, he said, and Howden is performing well ahead of where its budgets lie and so is expecting another very good year.

For David Howden, there are three key areas of focus for 2022. Firstly, he said, he wants to deliver the message to those in the insurance industry looking for a new home that in Howden they will find a long-term player with an eye fixed on the future. That people and talent piece is critical and goes to the very heart of Howden as a business. Already over 2,000 people in Howden are shareholders, he said, but he’d love to see at least 30% of staff become shareholders and enjoy being owners in the business they are helping to shape.  

“Secondly, I think relevance [is key],” he said, “We believe there’s room for a European powerhouse, we’ve already taken that position in the UK. And an interesting stat is that we are now, by most metrics, bigger than JLT was when it sold to Marsh. They had 10,000 staff, we’ve got 10,500, their EBITDA was around £320 million, ours is around £440 million including Aston Lark. So, [our question now] is how can we be as powerful and as relevant in continental Europe, as we have to become with Aston Lark and A-Plan in the UK.”

Read more: DUAL CEO sheds light on major transaction

The third string to Howden’s bow in 2022 will focus on redefining underwriting, which its international MGA arm DUAL is now well on the way to doing. That means providing thought leadership to the market and discovering what they want and how it can be achieved via investments in digital and data, in a bid to move the needle of how the market thinks about risks. It comes back to his earlier point, Howden said, about the long-term mindset of Howden and the way it continually explores how to be relevant for clients in a fast-changing world.


Tesco Bank announces leadership overhaul

Tesco Bank has also revealed that Michael Mustard, legal director and company secretary, who has been with the business for seven years, will be departing the organisation in February to take on a role in a different sector.

Fiona Burden, who is currently head of legal, has been selected to replace Mustard and will take up the role when he steps down. Burden has been with Tesco for eight years and previously served as head of legal at Tesco Bank. Before that, she led its commercial legal team and has recently acted as interim head of supplier management. Prior to joining Tesco Bank, she spent time in roles at Aviva and Standard Life.

Additionally, Jacqui Mallin, director of colleague experience, will leave the business after five years in the role to allow her and her family to spend more time living abroad. The search for her successor is underway and an announcement can be expected in due course.

Commenting on the leadership changes, Gerry Mallon, chief executive of Tesco Bank, said he was delighted to confirm the above appointments and noted that they demonstrate the strength of the group’s succession planning and its commitment to an effective gender balance in its executive team.

“Having joined us on an interim basis, Gary helped transition Tesco Underwriting to being a wholly owned subsidiary of Tesco Bank and is joining the team on a permanent basis at an exciting time for the business,” he said. “Michael and Jacqui will leave with our best wishes and thanks for their contribution to Tesco Bank, and I now look forward to working with Debbie, Gary, Fiona and the rest of the executive team as we continue to help Tesco shoppers manage their money a little better every day.”


CEO discusses recent acquisition and future plans

Read more: GRP’s Alan & Thomas makes first acquisition of the year

“We’ve been on quite a journey with them for a period of time,” he said. “I’d known Malcolm Hicks and the family-run business for many years, actually since I first started working as a broker back in 1984. So, I’d known Malcolm for a long time and there has always been a mutual respect between our two firms, even though we’ve been in close combat at times. And I think as a result of that professionalism and respect, we grew to act as a bit of a sounding board for each other in those early days.”

Later on, Malcolm Hick’s sons – Jason and Paul – joined the BIG family business, he said and he got to know them quite well as they all served in the same community. Each business continued doing its own thing and evolving their structures over time but, culturally, an alignment between the firms became quite clear. That culture is an essential element of what A&T considers carefully whenever it looks at acquisition opportunities.

A few years ago, BIG reached out to A&T to explore their options, Boughton said, as they had picked up a variety of strong commercial accounts but were looking for more assistance in areas around the changing regulatory landscape, technology and evolving insurance market relationships. The team at BIG run their business very well, he emphasised, and are true insurance brokers in the best way but it is those additional pieces that can be time and resource consuming. As it stands, those are the same pieces that being part of GRP makes so much more accessible.

“When we went on our own expansion journey back in 2017, [GRP] was the standout opportunity for us in terms of its model, because it’s so unique,” he said. “We really did our due diligence because we tend to be quite cautious people at the best of times so we explored our options with a fine-tooth comb, as you’d expect us to… And we’re delighted with the decision we made.”

GRP’s model has allowed A&T to keep its name above the door, and to exercise real autonomy while availing of support around everything from technology, HR, regulation and market negotiations. It is a model that allows broking firms to get on with what they do best and focus on their clients to achieve what is best for them, Boughton said, and that focus on high-quality broking is what has enabled A&T to win several sizeable accounts, including the first and second-largest customers in their history.

“We treat every customer with respect to the fact that their business is their world,” he said. “Whether they’re a self-employed painter and decorator or a multinational global company, we will provide that high level of service. But interestingly, we have been able, with all the new tools at our disposal, to pick up two significant accounts over the last couple of years, and that is a testament to the fact that even in the sales arena, we can punch above our weight and compete against the bigger national names.

“[…] I think a lot of that is down to the fact that we draw on this national scale but local and very targeted and focused delivery, from a team that’s very capable of doing it within our own business. That resonates with customers particularly well and has definitely stood us out from the competition.”

Read more: Alan & Thomas CEO: “Insurance broking was the obvious choice for me”

A&T is excited about the future, Boughton said, and passionate about continuing to do what it does best – getting out there and serving the interests of its customer base. Looking at the firm’s key areas of focus for 2022, he noted that the business has been encouraged by the easing of restrictions and is reflecting on the changes it made during COVID. The pandemic has been a great opportunity for the broker to galvanise its team and align itself with its customers even more, he said, and now it is looking to build on that platform going forward,

“Acquisition, of course, plays its part,” he said. “We’re hoping to land a couple more this year, but it’s not acquisitions at all costs for us, it never has been. We’ve always looked at it from the point of view of whether it’s going to add value for us and, importantly, whether we’re going to add value to that business. It’s an investment for us, so if we can’t reconcile that element at the outset, then we don’t tend to sort of progress things too much. And the people involved are a key ingredient of that.”

A&T has been in business planning mode for a while now, he said, which involves exploring input from business partners and considering elements like rate strength and index linking across the market over the next 12 months. The broking business now finds itself in an optimistic place and can see the potential for solid organic growth, rooted in caring for existing clients and advising them on the areas where they are not insured as well as identifying where they are covered.

That gap analysis is something the business already does well, he said, but it’s not about driving sales but rather establishing a unique proposition that sets A&T apart from its competitors. The business is also embarking on its insurer roadshow at the end of this week, which will see it spend valuable time with its key insurer partners and unveiling some of its plans for 2022 to further evolve those relationships. Those insurer partnerships are critical to the success of the business, he said, and the ongoing support from A&T’s insurer partners is immensely valued.

“So, organically we’ll grow well,” he said. “New client wins will feature significantly and, along with the reducing service levels we seem to be seeing from our competitors to clients in our geographic area, it hopefully bodes well for the future. And if we can top that off with a couple of acquisitions, wonderful.”


Is Lloyd’s considering relocating from its iconic headquarters?

Is Lloyd's considering relocating from its iconic headquarters?

As a landmark, the Lloyd’s of London building is distinctly iconic and has played host to a number of momentous moments for the insurance industry, both positive and negative. However, today the Financial Times (the FT) has reported that Lloyd’s is exploring a move away from the Richard Rogers-designed building.

The FT noted that the news on the Lloyd’s building, which was first reported by the property trade publication React, is a blunt reminder of the impact COVID-19 has had on the office market. Lloyd’s is reported to be “considering a range of options around our workspace strategy and the future leasing arrangements for Lloyd’s”.

This could mean that the oldest insurance market in the world will potentially depart its City of London headquarters, which it has occupied since it opened in 1986. Lloyd’s is one of the City’s last face-to-face financial markets and sees underwriters sitting at desks called ‘boxes’ while brokers line up to see them and discuss coverage options. Since the COVID work from home order, however, thousands of insurance underwriters and brokers have been forced to do business online, only recently returning to the HQ.

The FT reported that Lloyd’s has a lease on the office tower, which is owned by Chinese insurance group Ping An, until 2031, with a break clause in 2026 and noted that Lloyd’s CEO John Neal has previously discussed reorganising the famous underwriting room to turn it into a less formal space. Lloyd’s is now thought to be considering a more significant change.

Commenting on that consideration, Lloyd’s said, “As we adapt to new structures and flexible ways of working, we are continuing to carefully think about the future requirements for the spaces and services our marketplace needs.”

More detailed plans are being drawn up and could be shared later this year, The FT reported. It is the latest news to come from Lloyd’s which earlier in January entered a joint venture with DXC Technology and IUA to enable the market’s digital transformation.


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