The ’key focus area for us in the coming year will be the UK market’, says chief executive 

Having started out as an analyst for capital markets and then spending more than 20 years working at technology startups, Robin Gilthorpe’s start at Earnix has the feel of a natural progression.

His stint in startup land saw him specialise in digital transformation for financial services, leading him into his new role as chief executive at insurtech firm Earnix, which he began in January 2023. 

Earnix is an artificial intelligence (AI) innovation Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for insurers and other financial services that is now planning to expand in the UK under Gilthorpe’s leadership. 

Back in September this year, Earnix unveiled a new London office and told Insurance Times that it saw the UK as playing a “critical role” in the future of global insurance.

Currently, Earnix boasts more than 100 commercial customers, operates across 35 countries and has a range of products – including those built for property and casualty, personal and commercial lines, as well as for life insurance.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Gilthorpe says: “Commercial and specialty lines in the UK market are super interesting. 

”We have significant opportunity to expand in Europe, but the key focus area for us in the coming year will be the UK market.

“Our ambition is to change an industry and to show a short path. We believe that approach is going to allow us to continue to deliver projects, where the impacts are huge – that’s the scale of our ambition.

“We have a chance to get the insurance industry the name that it deserves”.

The notion of change was the key theme of the firm’s Excelerate Summit, hosted in September 2023, which Gilthorpe is keen to present as an industry summit, rather than an Earnix event.

However, the form that change takes is vital.

In the Earnix Insurance Operations in a Changing Industry report, published earlier this month (11 October 2023), it was revealed that only 13% of respondents were focused on growth, while 48% were prioritising profitability. 

Earnix’s report, surveyed 400 global insurance executives from Europe, Australia, Canada and the US in June 2023, 

For Gilthorpe, positive change for its customers involved growing profitably as “key in a highly regulated and competitive market”.

He adds: “Our aim is to help our customers launch new products to optimise the way that they underwrite and tune their pricing to monitor the performance of those products to optimise in real time market.

“Unlike traditional approaches, our approach is very focused on time to value, this is a rapid deployment model. Our platform is a single platform and it’s configured – not coded – to address the needs of different customers, markets and situations.”

Staying agile

When delivering projects, however, Gilthorpe believes success is about “delivering value at much shorter mile posts”. 

Having worked for various technology startups that focused on work with insurers, Gilthorpe says he is well aware of the importance of “staying agile” in the insurance market.

He says that the pirmary concern here is “culture and people”, but is adamant that “there are plenty of ideas in the market”.

“What I do agree with, however, is that there is a problem with getting those ideas to market,” he says.

“A lot of that is bound up in systems, processes and issues, while some of it is being prepared to get in the game.”

Having also worked at companies of various sizes, Gilthorpe says he believes there are commonalities.

He explains: “One of the key things that I learned about small companies, when starting up an insurance company, entrepreneurs are very good at two things – they know how to get started today with partial information, which sounds inherently risky, but they’re very good at managing risks.”

Building portfolios from the offset is one way of manging risk, but he advises that firms should pick three areas rather than a single target. That way, if one doesn’t work out, there are two more shots.

Gilthorpe adds: “You also must be prepared to kill off some of these things early if they are going way of track.

“That’s the cultural mindset issue for insurance [firms], they need to encourage some part of their organisations to be a little further out on the risk, but also understand when to rein that in, if it all goes wrong.”