“We work on all areas of the insurance lifecycle, so it is rapid, diverse, and at times challenging”

9th May 2024

As Head of Business Development for Insurance Services, Gemma Grainger explains why confidence remains key, and that the combination of Davies and Asta has created an organisation that can truly meet the needs of clients of all sizes.

Tell us about your role as Head of Business Development for Davies Insurance Services.

I collaborate with each of the core business executives in our Insurance Services division to assist and coordinate efforts across our primary service offerings. Whether it’s our Intermediary Services partnering with businesses looking to start new MGA or Broking platforms, our Market Services providing insurance operations and consulting solutions for start-up, live, and legacy partners, our top ten ranked captive management business, or our Lloyd’s business, Asta, the leading third-party managing agent, launching syndicates in the UK and overseas, we work in tandem throughout our Insurance Service offering to ensure that the services we provide remains at the forefront of the market.

It is a busy position that focuses on increasing our offering to clients and partners across the Insurance Services landscape, which includes a diverse portfolio of solutions, each tailored to the intermediaries, captives, markets, and Lloyd’s businesses with which we collaborate on a global scale.

But ultimately, it boils down to helping our clients in continuing to win and thrive in their various markets, as well as finding new portfolios to support, carriers aligned with our appetite for risk, or putting together bespoke solutions for those looking to leverage our scale and technical expertise to combat a specific operational or strategic challenge.

We work on all areas of the insurance lifecycle, so it is rapid, diverse, and at times challenging, but we have established an exceptional record of having the bandwidth and knowledge to bring complex risks to market while simultaneously assisting customers in navigating an ever-changing environment.

As you might expect, the duties of the position include project management of strategic initiatives, setting marketing and commercial objectives, product development, and market research, as well as creating and maintaining contacts with current clients and, of course, attending market events.

But, at its heart, I’d like to think that we all focus on getting things right. The better service we offer, the more we help, and the more we contribute, the more our clients gain from it, and we prosper as well.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry and what that could mean for Davies Insurance Services over the next 12 months?

The insurance sector has encountered a number of challenges in recent years; nevertheless, our Insurance Services portfolio has an established track record of supporting our clients in leveraging such obstacles into opportunities, and I am confident that we will continue to operate in such a way in next year.

Davies continues to work aggressively to make certain that we remain at the forefront of the marketplace and provide significant benefits to our clients. The field of insurance is experiencing rapid change, owing to new and expanding risks, unique distribution and service methods, wealth and income disparities, and a dynamic technology landscape, including artificial intelligence. A difficult economy, the reality of climate change, and geopolitical uncertainty have all made insurers increasingly concerned with income.

Our size allows us to combine capabilities and expertise from across the organisation, including our Consulting & Technology and Legal & Claims divisions, to leverage a collective client pool to build relationships and understand service appetites, as well as capitalise on market opportunities or gaps to create new, innovative, and cost-effective solutions for our clients.

Our clients’ rising desire for access to numerous jurisdictions has also coincided nicely with our development into key worldwide markets such as Europe, Bermuda, America, Asia, Dubai, and Guernsey. And who knows where else we will be in 12 months’ time.

Tell us more about the recent launch of Davies Broking Europe

It is an exciting development and key milestone for Davies! I was delighted to be assigned as project manager for what has been a major strategic initiative and large new operation for Insurance Services and our present clients.

Davies Broking Europe (DBE) is headquartered in Brussels, meaning that we can now help European brokers gain access to the London market as well as assist UK customers seeking to expand into Europe. Acting as a strategic partner, DBE can facilitate effective EEA broking presence for both Lloyd’s and non-Lloyd’s businesses as well as providing scalable support and expertise for back-office operations. This is building upon our reputation and expertise as an established broker in the London and Lloyd’s market for nearly 20 years.

DBE also expands our broker incubation platform, so we provide the regulatory licenses and infrastructure to our UK broker clients to allow them to operate in the single market via a warehousing solution, until such point that our client decides to build their own European presence. Setting up a broking company in Brussels also complements our current Brussel’s based MGA platform, Asta Europe. Thus, Davies offers a comprehensive European solution for start-up UK intermediaries.

How has the acquisition of Asta changed the Davies offering?

Having begun my insurance career at Asta, the deal was very much a welcome return to work with a wonderful group of colleagues. It has enhanced the Davies Insurance Services offering, and the synergy between the two businesses has added a complimentary layer to our start-up and incubation models. We have been able to create a market-leading combined platform focused on lifecycle solutions for underwriters and intermediaries.

In the UK, underwriters starting as an MGA can benefit from multiple options within our range of services. Ranging from a streamlined AR model, to a more risk intensive model encompassing conduct risk exposure and Lloyd’s coverholder status, they can also rely on us as a strategic partner to grow their businesses whether that is gaining their own UK intermediary authorisations, setting up a captive, launching a Syndicate-in-a-box (SIAB), evolving into a syndicate, or graduating to their own Lloyd’s Managing Agency.

The combined opportunities for Davies and Asta in the future is incredibly exciting from a business development perspective especially given how the market continues to innovate at pace.

Davies also offers Market services. Tell us more about that side of the business.

Our Market Services team specialise in supporting and resolving a broad range of operational concerns for our clients in the Lloyd’s and London markets, as well as farther afield, given Davies’ continuing global expansion. Our services help businesses work more effectively and manage scalability, and they are an essential part of the Davies package provided when you establish your firm on one of our MGA or Broker platforms.

We are recognised as a leader in premium credit control for the Lloyd’s, domestic, legacy, direct settlement and MGA markets, with over two decades of experience that enables us to be at the forefront of market changes (Blueprint 2) to thereafter collaborate with the market, and engage with brokers to drive these efficiencies and add value for clients.

Our delegated authority management and bordereau validation services are also witnessing a significant increase in demand as markets strive for more rigorous data standards and carriers want more accurate and consistent data outputs. Recent improvements in bordereaux management have offered a chance for businesses to now address loss fund monitoring. Over the last decade, Davies has helped customers reclaim over £150 million in loss funds, which is a stunning sum. Although the introduction of Faster Claims Payment (FCP) should alleviate legacy difficulties in the future, we can and do assist customers with the development and delivery of reconciliation controls due to our expertise in this area.

Davies Market Services and BPO support provides a complete customer-centric solution for all administrative in-house processes across the full business lifecycle, resulting in better underwriting, actuarial, and compliance governance for our clients.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

We have all experienced several significant events, particularly in the past few years. One major one was Brexit, which had a significant impact on both our clients and the London market. However, I believe that the COVID epidemic has had a lasting impact on business development.

We transitioned from a full-time office setting to working alone, and we are currently embracing the new standard of hybrid working. Since insurance is primarily a face-to-face industry, particularly in the London market, switching to solely depending on technology to do business was a big shift for everyone involved. Working in business development, you are aware of the value of interpersonal and communication skills from a sales standpoint, but at that time, everyone agreed on the importance of human connection.

As Head of Business Development, I know how important it is to boost income, customer engagement, and productivity. In this case, utilising technology more was not just essential, but crucial to maintain dialogue with clients and the market. The insurance industry and the working day changed to a more vibrant, mobile, and dynamic working approach as a result. This included everything from revamping our digital marketing strategies to adopt stronger social media presence to automating processes for optimised client relationship management, more effective time management, and generation of richer data and trend analytics.

Even while there are still a lot of in-person meetings, pitches, and other interactions with customers, clients, and industry peers, the abilities required to do business more effectively virtually will advance and become an increasingly vital component of business development. But even now, I still look forward to those face-to-face meetings!

How did you come to work in the insurance market?

To be honest, I stumbled into the insurance industry by chance, as I had originally intended to become a teacher! Yet, after finishing a work placement in my final year of university, I went on to earn a first-class degree in financial mathematics and chose to work in a corporate environment, as an insurance recruiter had planted the seed for me to eventually work in the market, with terms like actuary, adjustor, and underwriting sounding so intriguing!

I was fortunate to find a work placement at Asta’s risk management division just two weeks after receiving my degree, and I ended up speaking with a senior coworker, whom I had befriended over shared tea breaks, about working in business development, and eventually spent more than seven years working my way up the ranks before joining Davies!

What advice would you offer to anyone seeking to enter insurance in a business development role?

Self-assurance and understanding of one’s own skills are essential. As is being open to constructive criticism and considering diverse points of view. There are always lessons to learn and ways to get better; the corporate market is competitive, and you have to be resilient.

Understanding the market you serve, the people who work in it, the issues they confront, and what is required to support or address those challenges is also critical. Engagement and genuine empathy are both crucial qualities of working as an effective advocate for a client; once you’ve fully identified with the client and the problem you’re seeking to solve for them, your connection as well as confidence will continue to develop.

Finally, understanding your solution’s standing in the market is vital for staying ahead of industry trends. Benchmarking, cost analysis, and client feedback are all crucial for understanding the top players in the sector while staying ahead of emerging patterns and being completely prepared for the everchanging regulatory landscape. The insurance industry may appear large but in truth it is a small market, so building a strong network of advocates, connections, and successful case studies built on solid foundations is essential to continued success.

If you would like to continue the conversation, get in touch with Head of Business Development, Gemma Grainger at gemma.grainger@davies-group.com

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