Despite being ‘a relatively young business in the UK’, the global insurer and its staff want ‘to be seen as experts in what we do’, says chief underwriting officer

Global insurer Sompo is homing in on the UK as part of its overarching ambition to grow its commercial lines book, according to Mike Reid, chief underwriting officer for UK commercial lines and head of casualty at Sompo.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Reid confirms that Sompo is keen to expand its UK footprint.

“Sompo is a big organisation globally and it has been established for some time,” he explains. “We have a strategy in place to grow our commercial lines operations globally and that includes a focus on the UK.

“We want to grow sensibly and [we] have a long-term view of success. We are in the market for the long term and our strategy reflects that commitment.”

Reid describes Sompo as being in “growth mode” – it plans to launch two new products in the coming months which will target specific market sectors.

Alongside the introduction of new products, Reid believes the growth Sompo is targeting is also heavily relationship driven and hinges on building bridges with both brokers and end customers.

To this end, the insurer aims to engage with brokers and clients in the year ahead to deliver the products that best fit their needs.

He continues: “We are already a fairly significant commercial lines provider. We want to be in a position where we are using technology to free our underwriters to use their skills where they are best needed.

“Yes, you have your underwriting and risk models and you have technology in various parts of the process, but at the heart of the business it is still very relationship led.

“Fundamentally, we want brokers and clients to enjoy working with us.

“We want to be seen as experts in what we do. There is always an ease when you work with experts, there is a confidence.

“We want to be a business [that] people are keen to work with and work for.”

Focus on talent

Reid says that Sompo’s strategy in the UK includes the need to ensure that the insurer has talented individuals in place to help deliver its aspirations.

“We want to be in the top 10 in commercial lines and to do that, the first item we needed to address was the question of talent,” he observes.

“We have to remember [that] we are a relatively young business in the UK and we need to establish the brand and become a business that brokers and clients want to deal with.”

Reid notes that acquiring the right talent comes down to having the “three Cs”.

He explains: “The first is competence, the second is character. If the character is right and we are doing things in the right way, then we can create the right culture [which is the third C].

“The team needs to trust each other and we have to build a team that brokers and clients can trust.”

Providing better service

For Reid, the perennial industry issue of obtaining the right talent has had a knock-on effect when it comes to broker service.

Explaining his perspective, Reid notes: “What we recognise is that [brokers] are looking for better levels of service [from insurers].

“There have been some problems around service levels in the industry and I can understand why. When you look at the market pre-covid, it saw 10 to 12 years of softening conditions and there was a change in the relationship between brokers and insurers.

“I think it created a talent gap. We had a period where we were not investing in good young underwriting and broking talent, as the only thing we could control was costs. That created the gap and that gap or bubble is now moving up the industry.

“[Around] 10 years ago, the bubble was around staff in their 20s and now it has moved to those in their 30s, which has left the industry with a struggle to recruit to certain seniority levels.

“Brokers and clients want their insurers to be staffed properly.”

Reid adds that the definition of “good service” at Sompo is that “100% of quotes should be issued with 24 hours” when “all the information is there”.