However, head of M&A says that ’one of the challenges is pure remote working’

Howden is looking to “exploit” the opportunities it can provide brokers up and down the country through the use of regional offices.

That was according to Peter Blanc, head of M&A at Howden, who told Insurance Times that the business wanted to give firms outside of London further opportunities to “join forces with a global broker”.

Blanc explained that the London market can be a “barrier” for brokers who are outside of the city but still “want to get experience in a big insurance market”.

He said the insurance industry “should be able to provide opportunities up and down the land” and that networks did not need to be “London-centric”.

“We’ve got this big network of 200 or more branches up and down the country,” Blanc said.

“One of the areas that we’re going to exploit is the fact that it’s now possible for brokers in far flung parts of the country, who may be quite a way away from any big city centres, can join forces with a global broker to access our markets and capabilities.”

Remote working

This came after Aston Lark, which was acquired by Howden in 2021, announced it had boosted its regional presence by opening new offices across the UK.

Earlier this year (28 June 2023), the firm said it had opened new offices in Reading, Norwich and South Wales.

Blanc explained that while Howden was looking to take on staff in different parts of the country – he admitted that “one of the challenges is pure remote working”.

A recent survey of 260 insurance professionals working in the London market, published by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) New Generation group earlier this year (2 June 2023), found that 86% of the sector were now attending the office three times a week or less, with less than 5% now attending the office five days per week. 

In comparison, pre-pandemic findings show that 73% of staff attended the office five days a week, with another 17% attending four times. 

It was also highlighted that 41% of broker and underwriter respondents found their access to mentors negatively impacted, while nearly 60% of junior underwriters and brokers reported that their on the job learning had been negatively impacted.

Blanc said that remote working was “fine in the short term”, but wanted the majority of staff to come into its offices as it looks to train up juniors.

“We want to be ambivalent about where people work, but we want to create environments where our youngsters can actually learn from more experienced staff,” said Blanc.