Royal & SunAlliance UK commercial director Brendan McManus told almost 300 brokers last week that the insurer's woes are firmly behind it. Michelle Hannen reports.

The new R&SA - prioritiesBuild world class underwriting and claims

  • Become the clear market leader in bottom line performance
  • Grow sustainably
  • Keep sharpening customer propositions
  • Build an uncompromising performance culture across the organisation
  • Build an unbeatable broker proposition.
  • Just after taking over as UK commercial director at Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) earlier this year, Brendan McManus told Insurance Times that the area the company needed to improve the most was the way it told its story. "Probably some of our competitors have a weaker story than us but have told it better," he said.This week, it was McManus' turn to do the telling - and the selling. In two days of presentations to almost 300 brokers, McManus described what he termed "a new R&SA, a confident R&SA, a forward thinking R&SA"."I felt I needed to do it," McManus says of the broker roadshow. "What I wanted to do was draw a line." In McManus' mind, that line, under the past 18 months which has seen R&SA beset by restructuring and selling businesses in the name of raising enough capital to ensure its long term future has been firmly drawn. "We're back and from now on you'll never hear me or any of my team again harp back to those days," he promised brokers. So what exactly does the future hold for R&SA? McManus says the aim is to become the UK's "premier broker branded insurer" and an organisation that is "good to do business with". Rhetoric aside, in the commercial business which represents 34% of the group's volume and more than 50% of its profits, this will translate into a differentiated business that aims to be the number one, two or three player in each of its market segments. But while McManus promised more new product launches in 2005 than for the past 10 years, he says R&SA will not be a "jack of all trades".Launches scheduled for 2005 include a professional classes product for IT professionals, theft mapping technology to improve property underwriting and a widening of its property owners' proposition to target smaller property owners.The business is also building a team of eight marine risk management specialists. It also has a plan to reinvigorate its Enterprise small business proposition, with more focus on building an overall relationship rather than the case management approach taken to date.R&SA is also making a "significant investment" in claims over the next three years with a new claims system being implemented by consultants Accenture, the first phase of which is on schedule to be in place by the end of November. McManus says that under the new system, the company aims to settle first party claims "quickly and fairly" while being tough on third party claims and fraud. Of market conditions, McManus says that while there is "undoubtedly pressure on rates", R&SA "knows for certain" that its rates across all lines of business it writes are adequate. "You won't see silly underwriting from R&SA," he says. "We aim to lead the market to remain firm." But he says the business is also looking for top line growth to recapture some of the market share it sacrificed while repairing the business.Does all of this signal a stronger company? The city thinks so. Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) revised its outlook for R&SA from negative to stable on 12 October, after a presentation from senior executives the day before. The timing - just a day before the first of his broker presentations - is not lost on McManus. "It was a gift," he says. But, as ever, there is a new goal - to lift the company's S&P financial strength rating from A- to a "strong A rating". Will McManus succeed? It all depends on how well he tells - and sells - the story. IT