MGAA Next Gen's Introduction to Insurance

Members detailed their first encounter with the Insurance market, what they experienced and how that has come to impact their careers.

Katherine Snedden - DUAL Group
Having spent four years working in the cosmetics industry in Paris within a female-dominated environment, walking into Lloyd’s for the first time was a bit of a shock to the senses. Being suddenly immersed in a sea of mostly men milling around the desks in dark suits, carrying leather binders and chatting politely to each other was completely alien to me. I remember walking onto the main floor near the Lutine bell and being amazed at seeing quill pens being used to write up the losses for that day and then seeing the Titanic loss on the older ledgers. And the Adams room on the top floor with its cornicing and gold leaf was something of true mind-blowing beauty. It was so strange to see the contrast of the modern so directly next to the old.  
But that in my view is what this industry still represents above all others. The traditions of the past merging with the innovation of the present and future. And fifteen years on, my outlook certainly hasn’t changed.  The people I have met have become firm friends and I have been lucky enough to have worked on so much more than just the motor, home or travel insurance products that I thought this industry produced. Insuring space shuttles, an actor’s hands, nuclear power stations that need whole villages to be built and even ‘air’! 
They call it a ‘people business’ for a reason and I do believe that the weight of someone’s word is still considered their bond. If broken, they are exiled and blacklisted from the market, as we take these things very seriously in our little square mile. So if you want to know what this industry is all about come and join us, we won’t disappoint.

Matthew Bestwick - UK General

Welcome all who happen to have stumbled across this chaotic reassemble of memories of my introduction to the world of insurance. Hopefully there will be something in here for the seasoned veterans as well as those fresh minds who are still daunted by the jargon, the “grey suits” (I write this bearing russet trousers…) and the relentless drive.
I joined insurance in 2011, my first leap into industry after 3 years training with a small independent local firm of chartered accountants. The recession of 2007 onward was well underway and the jobs market not great. However, here was a newly formed insurance group, full of ambition, and a host of technical minds who would have a lot to offer me as I developed my career. All I knew about insurance prior to 2011 was that car insurance for young persons was extortionate, there were several brokers on the high street that I never frequented, and that Norwich Union must be the biggest insurance company in the world – having studied at York university and marvelled as the size of the new building on the river Ouse. This accolade actually belongs to China’s Ping An Insurance Group, accordingly Forbes 2017 report with revenue of $106.6 billion.
Moving from a world of counting tangible assets (my favourite being a stock take in a massive freezer at -24 degrees Celsius where the ink in your pen freezes) to a wholly intangible asset was a shock to the system, and this was before people started discussing ULR’s, OSLR and IBNR, For the uninitiated: ULR is ultimate loss ratio, that is, premium divided by claims (the lower the better for performance but too low and this isn’t good value for the consumer and other competitors are likely to price you out of the market); OSLR is the outstanding loss reserve, that is, known claims yet to pay out; and IBNR stands for incurred but not yet reported, that is, the forecast unknown claims based on historical data and any known impacts to latest outturn.  
My view from the outside was vastly different to my view from the inside. Insurance is a changing industry, and it needs to, with the digital agenda driving new ideas and ways of working. I continue to learn every day and watch eagerly as insurance takes shape to serve the risks of the modern human-being.

Charlotte Dartford - BLM

My experience in the insurance market spans both the insurer side and legal supplier side. Having embarked on a legal career supporting a heavyweight finance practice, I gained valuable knowledge of banking and capital markets, structured finance and derivatives, asset finance, project finance and real estate finance. 
The economic struggles of 2008 presented an opportunity to look at alternative sectors more agile in weathering the financial storm. It was at this time I accepted a position at a leading international insurer – a role that gave me management of a full range of marketing activity with a particular emphasis on broker development. I worked closely with underwriting teams writing a diverse range of products, from SME professional indemnity, to huge energy and contingency risks. I worked alongside claims teams to bridge the gap between underwriting and claims handling reputation, and with operational teams to improve efficiency and process. Before this time I had no appreciation as to the size, complexity and importance of the London Market. In my four years working with an insurer, I learned a great deal about the Market and have not looked back.
I have since ventured back into the legal world working with insurance specialist lawyers both in the Middle East, and more recently back in London, with BLM. The Market is continuously evolving, through consolidation, new and emerging risks, technology and regulation, all at a time of political and economic uncertainty. I choose to expect the unexpected, embrace development, and look forward to working with lawyers and clients in shaping the future of insurance.  

Alexia Eliades - AXA XL

Welcome to those of you who have found your way to our Next Gen camp! You are joining the wave of troopers in our bid to make insurance more attractive and desirable to the next generation of young leaders. I joined the insurance sector back in 2012 when I qualified as a lawyer and began my journey working at a leading insurance law practice in London. However, as my career has progressed I have worked at a Lloyd's Syndicate and the leading MGA with the London Market.  I now work for the AXA XL Reinsurance arm as a Senior Claims Adjuster. 
However, it’s time to face facts (and for those wanting a good piece of humble-pie) it will come as no surprise that no one really chooses insurance as a career. Insurance chooses you. That is because, more often than not, not many young graduates know what working in the insurance market entails or how to enter the market. Indeed, I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked if I work for Lloyds bank.  All that most people know about insurance is that car insurance takes a huge chunk out of their bank balance each year and, of course, the common misconception that insurers are only out to prevent you from receiving compensation that is (more often than not) so fully deserved. 
It was only when I began my career in insurance that I realised what a huge world I had tapped in to. The insurance industry can really take you in any direction and into any area of the business world.  Whether you chose to be an Underwriter,  Broker or Claims Adjuster; you can really explore the world! I have chosen to specialise in Healthcare insurance, which is unfortunately an area that will affect everyone at some point in their lives.  In particular, I have specialised in handling the defence of large loss medical malpractice claims within the US and Canada, as well as high profile sensitive cases within the UK. Whilst these cases can be very emotional at times, they are also very rewarding. 

My view of what insurance was, has become vastly different to my view from the inside. Insurance is changing.  It is changing for the better and with the introduction of MGAA Next Gen, it will continue to change for years to come. We hope to develop the insurance industry, so that it attracts the best people for the future. 

Billy Johnstone - DUAL Group

My first experience in the Insurance Sector saw me join a Graduate programme in 2013. The scheme covered a range of areas including Claims, Underwriting, Accounts and more over a two-year period. I was so pleased to have got a place on the programme, as I felt it would really set me up well for a good career in insurance. 

I had an idea from the outset that I wanted to get into underwriting, but this programme allowed me to pick up valuable experiences in other areas. I felt some initial nervousness and apprehension, but across the various rotations I was very fortunate to meet and work alongside some really great people. Amongst all the technical experience I gained, that was one key thing I took from the experience. That even with knowledge and hard work, being friendly and working well with others puts you in great stead for enjoying and progressing through your career. 

You spend most of your life in work, a positive attitude and friendly approach goes a long way to making the most of it!