Client Case Study

Asta helps Arma establish a new way of doing business in the Middle East and North Africa region.

“Arma’s aim was to be unlike anything else in the middle-east market. To achieve this, we needed the right partner that not only shared our vision, but worked with us to navigate the cultural, legal and regulatory obstacles. The team at Asta advised us on the best course for our launch and helped us establish the secure platform needed to support our future growth.”

Mike Rafter, Chief Executive Officer, Arma Underwriting Limited


The key achievements

  • Asta backed the launch of MGA Arma Underwriting in the under-represented MENA region.
  • Successful liaison with the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and local advisors to assess compliance requirements and implement a robust regulatory framework.
  • Approvals were secured within six months, and this enabled the business to launch quickly.
  • Working with a broker partner, capacity and binding authorities were secured to support underwriting of core classes of business from day one.
  • Office premises, bank accounts, legal agreements and IT systems were in place ready for launch.
  • Arma has delivered $13m GWP from a standing start and is projected to achieve $20m GWP by the end of 2019.

The brief

As the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region enjoys an economic revival, it had been noted that the positive regulatory environment offered a wide range of opportunities for the global P&C (re)insurance market.

Mike Rafter, the principal behind Arma was up for the challenge, and with our backing, was ready to change the way (re)insurance solutions were delivered to the region.


The challenge

The market in MENA suffers from a shortage of local talent, a problem Arma faced head-on. But while Arma had identified an experienced team of underwriters, the infrastructure to support their activities needed building from the ground up. The biggest part of this task was meeting the high level of governance and oversight required by capacity providers, Lloyd’s and the DFSA. With Asta’s support, the strength of the Arma management team and business plan, approvals were secured within six months, and this enabled the business to launch quickly.

Asta’s involvement was instrumental in the success of the launch with expertise covering a range of disciplines from underwriting management and regulatory compliance, to company secretarial, finance and IT.


The approach

The team at Asta recognised that while a project management framework was needed to manage the launch of Arma, this had to allow for cultural nuances, a different regulatory regime and the operational challenges of establishing a business in a new territory.

It was also crucial that Asta worked closely with Arma’s management team. An operations committee was established that comprised representatives from both businesses and set out key roles, responsibilities and services necessary for successful delivery of the project.


The delivery

A myriad of simultaneously managed tasks faced the team. Securing underwriting capacity was a priority, and we worked with the Arma team and our partner broker to draft a submission to insurers. While the classes of business were familiar, the territorial exposures were not, and these needed to be fully understood in order to secure support from insurers.

The regulatory challenge was considerable. Securing Lloyd’s approval was well-trodden ground for the Asta team, but while the Arma proposition was strategically aligned to Lloyd’s objectives, additional work was needed to assure Lloyd’s that underwriting minimum standards were adhered to.

Anti-money laundering and sanctions were key areas of focus for the DFSA and there were other differences in rules and regulations that were a steep learning curve for our compliance team. It’s testimony to their expertise that we were able to define the requirements and identify a local advisor who could help us meet them.

Establishing a secure underwriting platform was also essential to streamline processes and deliver Arma’s service promise. After selecting an appropriate underwriting system, Asta worked with the Arma team to configure it for the lines of business and products being underwritten, and for accurate and timely bordereaux submission.

In addition, the scope of legal work was wider than usual, with employment contracts needing careful attention.


The result

The launch of Arma broke new ground for Asta. Not only was it a powerful proposition for an emerging market, it also brought a high level of risk in delivering the infrastructure and governance necessary to put the business on a sound footing.

Even though it’s still in its start-up phase, Arma trades across all current lines of business, and has delivered $13m GWP from a standing start. All this while building additional underwriting capacity to enhance existing lines, support new products and drive growth towards GWP of $20m in 2019. Asta continues to support the business as it continues along the road to success.

Contact us to find out more about how Asta can help set up your business:

Asta is the leading third party managing agent at Lloyd’s. We support a diverse range of businesses by delivering cost-effective underwriting management solutions tailored to your exact requirements and business lifecycle. Our goal is to help you achieve your ambition – of establishing a successful, profitable underwriting business.

News highlights