There are two things I’ve always loved about the insurance business. One is that it’s all about managing risk, which I find fascinating. The other is that insurance influences and enables every major industry in the world. For me that’s what makes it really exciting – and has done throughout my 30 plus years in this business.
I started my career at Lloyd’s in 1978 as an underwriting assistant and worked my way up to deputy underwriter and then director of underwriting for a syndicate that was then consolidated into ACE. I had the chance to specialise first in financial lines and really got to grips with the risks that my clients needed insuring. I was then given a fantastic opportunity, when I was posted to Bermuda for a year to run ACE’s operations in what was then our HQ. In 2004 I was appointed President of ACE European Group, which spans 28 countries and has over 2,500 employees. I have responsibility for our Lloyd’s operations globally as well as our retail operations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The great thing in underwriting, is that you do have this unique chance to specialise and really understand the risks of your clients. You’re the one taking responsibility for the risk so you really have to know what’s involved. For example, if you’re a property specialist, you have to understand the likelihood of an office block burning down or being struck by lightning or explosion, versus the very different risks a munitions factory faces, for example. And that means understanding everything from how different buildings are constructed and protected to the risk of natural catastrophe in different parts of the world.
The influence that insurance has on all global industries – whether it’s manufacturing, processing, technology, energy, pharmaceutical, or something else – is instrumental. They all buy insurance and the market is deeply connected to all of them in terms of the products it offers. For someone working in the Lloyd’s market, that means you have exposure to all of these incredible industries that make up the whole fabric of the commercial world. There aren’t many other professions that give you that scope of opportunity.
What’s unique about the Lloyd’s marketplace is its ability to underwrite the world’s most complex risks. And that means you get to work on some of the biggest, most exciting and interesting clients. I said to myself when I first started, I’d give this three years and if I didn't enjoy it I would move on… and now it’s more than 30 years later and I’ve loved every day and that’s the truth of it.