Describing employees as the firm’s ‘biggest asset’, MGA managing director confirms he is not a believer in the value of eTrading for certain financial lines business

For financial lines specialist MGA MPR Underwriting, claiming top spot in 2022’s Five Star Rating Report: MGA market, compiled by Insurance Times, is recognition for investing is its biggest asset – its staff.

MPR Underwriting’s managing director, Neil McCarthy, tells Insurance Times that although receiving a five star service rating from broker partners is a cause for celebration, the firm has no intention of becoming complacent.

“To [be] awarded five stars [two years] in a row is a real achievement and we are naturally delighted,” he says. “Broker service was one of the main parts of our strategy when we began underwriting in October 2017.

“At [that] time, we felt that we were filling a void for a service led, technical proposition to support brokers in the regions.

“We are extremely pleased to have come top of the shop this year, but there is always room for improvement and we will not become complacent.”

McCarthy adds that MPR Underwriting’s main competition comes from the company market as a whole, rather than just MGA peers, due to the level of expertise within the business.

“As to what sets us apart, it is down to the quality of our staff,” he explains.

“The level of experience and depth of talent [at MPR Underwriting] is significant. We have staff [that] are keen to talk to our brokers and deliver solutions to their risks.

“For instance, we worked out recently that the company has 185 years’ experience in financial lines. [This] seems to be recognised and appreciated by brokers and our recruitment strategy continues to reflect our desire for talented and experienced staff to join the company.

“Our brand was created around our people - they are our biggest asset.”

Neil McCarthy

Neil McCarthy

No interest in eTrading

McCarthy adds that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted MPR Underwriting’s flexibility and responsiveness when it came to tackling the changing needs of brokers’ clients.

“We are a relatively young company, but even prior to Covid, the business was built on a hybrid work system,” he explains. “The move to homeworking was seamless and swift for the business.

“Good quality products have also helped us and we have been clear that we are not interested in moving to a system of eTrade. We do not think it is something that suits a class such as directors’ and officers’ insurance (D&O).

“We believe there are significant advantages in the underwriting relationship between the company and our brokers.”

Capacity challenge

Feedback to Insurance Times’ online survey, which informed the Five Star Rating Report: MGA market 2022, shows that brokers are concerned about capacity exiting the MGA market – McCarthy describes this as the biggest current challenge for the MGA sector as a whole.

He says: “If you look at the at past five years, the volatility in the company market has highlighted that the MGA sector is not immune to the issues around capacity.”

MPR Underwriting has managed to avoid some of this pressure, however, by signing a three-year extension to its existing capacity agreement with Axis Specialty Europe SE in August this year.

Axis has supported MPR Underwriting with capacity for eight years - McCarthy says this is “indicative of the MGA’s performance and its growing reputation”.

He explains: “You have to be unique. We are unique in what we do for our brokers and our distribution footprint in the regions is a significant bonus. We have relationships which go back 20 years.

“The most successful MGAs are those [that] can evidence the distribution differentiation and the ability to attract good quality capacity.”

The full Five Star Rating Report: MGA market 2022 will be published in November 2022.