In the second of a new series of interviews with insurance leaders, we ask Colin Hamling, construction portfolio manager for risk solutions, RSA about his vision for the industry.
How do you see the market unfolding in two years’ time? In two years’ time? I would want to see stronger elements of the tripartite relationship (client, insurer and broker) coming back to prominence and an element of distinction by coverage/ service standards rather than just the ability to move business for price. I see new entrants continuing to join the market although this may be reined in both by the effects of credit crunch/recession producing a slowdown in new capital, and by a potential shortage of sufficient technical lead underwriting skills to populate more competition, even in the London market.
What is your vision of how the insurance sector will align to the changing business landscape? We have adapted to recession and economic downturn before and have plans in place which will enable us to cope again. The continuing move from a manufacturing society to a service/ added value one means that different insurance products are needed and I believe that innovation is one of the strengths of this industry.
What do you see as the main challenges in the market going forward? The main challenge would be a rapidly moving market that is starting to look different every year with the consolidation of many established regional brokers into organisations with serious strategic weight and negotiating power. Every insurer has a different philosophy in dealing with its suppliers and/or its direct market but over the years, we've seen the market balance flow from one side to the other and back again and these things get managed either by market forces, or by regulatory intervention if the imbalance and lack of benefit to the end customer becomes too great.
Whom do you see as the main visionaries in the market right now? I see the visionaries as those who make a new direction for others to follow or who make a stand for common sense and high standards. 15 years ago, I would have said Peter Wood had broken the mould with the launch of Direct Line and there are now many imitators of that model.
What are the key issues that the insurance leaders need to understand today to drive their businesses? We're in business to make a profit - ultimately for our shareholders - it's a complex world that changes fast and we need to have the breadth and depth of understanding as to how this will affect profitability possibly many years in the future. We can no longer do it alone - we need more researchers, more analysts and more skills in our advisors to make these strategic decisions.