RSA’s commercial lines managing director explains how the insurer’s three-pronged approach aims to improve broker service and encourage ‘growth mode’

RSA’s managing director for commercial lines, Lee Mooney, plans to make “some big, wholesale change” to his area of operation, implementing a three-pronged strategy to fire up the insurer’s “growth mode” and ensure brokers “see a tangible difference” in RSA’s service during the first half of 2022.

Although Mooney has more than 24 years of service at RSA under his belt, he only stepped up to lead the insurer’s UK commercial lines business in December 2021, following a stint as regions managing director.

In his new role, Mooney oversees RSA’s delegated authority arrangements, SME business, relationships with regional brokers, as well as the overall sales, development and underwriting of RSA’s commercial lines products, which produce more than £1bn of premium.

Fresh out of the starting blocks in his new position, Mooney is keen to build on the internal remediation work RSA has undertaken over the last three years to now “move into growth mode” and “grow sustainably as we move forward”.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Mooney explains: “We’ve come out of affairs of remediation and we are changing gear to move into growth mode.

“This is built on the very premise that I want to bring to the business, which is all about listening - listening to our partners, listening to our customers, listening to our teams and listening to our people.

“One of the things we had to do as a business [was] correct our expense base. By doing that, we have cut certain areas of the business too thin, [which has not] enabled us to create a foundation of growth.”

Mooney adds that following “three years [of] hard graft”, RSA has “basically got the foundations” for business growth in place now, meaning that his three-pronged strategy is ready to ramp up.

Lee Mooney - High Res

Lee Mooney

Three strategic pillars

Mooney’s revitalisation of RSA’s commercial lines business centres around three key facets – distribution, service and proposition.

On distribution, Mooney says RSA has “closed the doors to far too many partners” in the past.

“We haven’t welcomed new partners over the past few years and actually, some of the relationships we’ve got require refreshing,” he explains. “We have to understand who our customers are and what our customers want from us.”

RSA has already been working to rectify this – Mooney notes that RSA has added 100 new broker partners to its books over the last year. The insurer now has relationships with around 350 UK-based brokers in total.

The second pillar of Mooney’s approach is “a service mechanism that has resilience, stability and the customer at the heart of it”.

This is particularly important considering some tough decisions RSA had to action in 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mooney adds.

“We had to make strategic decisions to turn off our SME phone lines,” he says. “At [that] moment in time, it was all we could do because of the resilience and unprecedented nature of the environment we were facing and the fact that we are so reliant in certain parts of our business on saturated pools of resource, [for example in] India, Bangalore, for our internal infrastructure.

“We had to cut our cloth accordingly, but we cannot be in a position where we let our customers down in a period where everybody requires everybody to step up.”

Remedying this service downturn means remastering the “basics”, Mooney explains. This includes “having a quick, prompt turnaround with [a] hunger on new business” and “being very clear about what our appetite is so our customers can trust us, but can also have a quick and prompt yes or no [answer]”.

Mooney additionally believes in providing “a pure culture of no surprises” for brokers.

He explains: “We will not be the partner that turns around two to three weeks before renewal to say ‘we’re reducing capacity, we haven’t got the appetite for a risk, the performance of the risk is not in line with our expectations’.

“In my view, that’s quite an arrogant transposition of our business onto our customers. We need to walk forward with [brokers] and partner with them in a very transparent and clear way.

“The one thing from a service agenda we want to remove is friction in our engagement and we want our brokers to spend more time with their customers and not having to navigate the inner corridors of RSA or the inner corridors of any corporate machine.”

Mooney’s final area of focus is RSA’s commercial lines proposition. Here, Mooney wants RSA to concentrate on writing “business in a way in which the broker wants to transact”, addressing issues such as the “huge gap between etrading and manual” underwriting.

“I want to give brokers the option and ability to broke business properly into us, so they can access what our traditional values are - that is expertise and simplicity in trading,” he says.

Changes afoot

For Mooney, these strategic steps are vital because “we are nothing without our broker partners and vice versa” – therefore, brokers should expect to see changes to RSA’s service as early as H1 this year.

He explains: “In H1, we will be coming through to the market with the revised proposition.

“H1 you’ll see some strong messages in the market. H2 will be the execution of that service and distribution model and then, when we move into 2023, we will start to refine the other areas of the business, which will be our SME propositions.

“Our delegated authority growth agenda will start again in 2023, which will be built on niche and specialised facilities instead of volume players, where we’ve very much been in the past.

“It’s very much a two-year [implementation] window, but I expect brokers to see a tangible difference in the first half of the year.”

Backed by RSA’s new chief executive of UK and international, Ken Norgrove, Mooney thinks “a lot of people are going to wake up and think RSA [is] a different beast” as a result of his three pillar approach.

In his mind, RSA is set to become “a more prominent player [that is] definitely listening” to UK brokers.