60 seconds with Tangy Morgan

American Tangy Morgan has spent nine years in London, most recently as Deputy Head of Underwriting Performance at Lloyd’s in a role that has taken her from the coalface of underwriting to a position of oversight within the market. Her varied career has given her the opportunity to indulge her big love for travel as she sets her sights on her only continent left to explore: Antarctica.

Tell me a bit about your experience to date and what it is that excites you about the industry?

My prior position just before I was headhunted into Lloyd’s in early 2008 was as senior vice president of casualty in an AIG subsidiary called AIG Cat Excess, formerly Starr Excess International. I managed a worldwide portfolio from here in our London office. Coming into the business on the commercial side and having always dealt with multinational clients such as pharmaceuticals, integrated oil companies, chemical manufacturers etc I always found it very intriguing because you got to understand a little bit about a lot of different industries in order to best understand the exposures.

When I met risk managers I would ask them, “What keeps you up at night?” Getting to know the insured and understanding what their concerns are helps you to come up with bespoke products for complex risks – it’s about being able to understand the actual exposures the clients have and trying to address that with the insurance product. Personally, my career has afforded me a lot of interesting opportunities. I’ve been to underground coalmines in South Africa, viewed a one-of-a-kind facility in the Barents Sea and visited Shell’s facilities in mainland China.

Tell me a bit about your role as Deputy Head of Underwriting Performance

This role has given me a much broader understanding of the running of insurance syndicates, not just from the underwriting piece. It’s an oversight role – we’re similar to non-executive directors in that we look at the business and hope to help the business along. We are the group that reviews and approves the business plans for all the syndicates that operate in the market.

During the course of the year on a monthly and quarterly basis we analyse the various returns that come in from the market, looking on their performance versus the current year’s plan and versus the three open years’ accounting periods. We do the full gamut of looking at the businesses and at movement in loss patterns and making sure they’re keeping on track. If in some lines of business the results are going in the wrong direction we do go in and work with the management agents to address the issue. It is a soft market and we do have tough conversations with people when appropriate, but we do work with them to address underperformance issues.

What is it like being a senior woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry?

I’ve always worked in industries that were very male-dominated. Out of university I worked in the petroleum industry and in my first six months I went through an offshore training programme which meant I was on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico and in a lot of cases was the only woman on the rig! At the end of the day, if you can come in to work and you’re confident and get on with doing your job to the best of your ability, that’s what matters and you will win respect from anyone. It’s been an exciting and rewarding career for me. I live in another country and have travelled all over the world so it’s done well by me and I would encourage young women to consider insurance as a career.

Is underwriting an art or a science in your estimation – and are standards improving?

Whether you’re writing in the Lloyd’s market or if you’re working on the company market side it’s the combination of art and science – you have hard facts data to be analysed – you know the claims activity, you know the litigious environment you’re working in and the product and who you’re selling it to. And then it takes a certain amount of experience and being aware of the markets that you’re writing in – writing in Singapore is very different from writing a book of business in the US, or Australia or Europe – and the industry you’re writing products for. With storms like Katrina and Ike we’ve seen the models weren’t necessarily 100% right all the time. So while to a certain extent it’s about looking at the hard technical facts, it’s also about understanding the environment you’re in and the product you’re selling.

What do you enjoy doing when your blackberry is switched off?

I have a real passion for travelling and living here in London for almost nine years I have taken advantage of being close to Europe, had several trips over to Asia and Africa. My personal goal is to go to every continent and I have been to every continent except for Antarctica and I plan to go within the next year. I have flown the Concorde three times (when it was still going) so I have flown at twice the speed of sound. I’ve seen the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, travelled on the Blue Train in South Africa – so I’ve had some pretty fantastic experiences through my travels.

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