Meet our intern – Turki Al Wijri

Turki Al Wijri joined us this autumn as part of a new initiative launched by Lloyd’s and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA)

As the largest global centre for commercial and specialty insurance risk, London has always attracted a range of people from around the world to come and do business, live and work, or simply experience the market in action.

In September 2018 twelve of Saudi Arabia’s ‘rising talent’ Insurance professionals visited London to take part in an 8-week internship programme created by Lloyd’s in partnership with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). The aim of the programme is to proactively upskill and develop more capability among the insurance company workforce in Saudi – fostering greater knowledge transfer and creating a foundation of proficiency particularly in specialty classes of business and reinsurance. For Lloyd’s, the programme provided the ideal opportunity to increase the profile of the London as a global insurance hub and drive more commercial opportunities to generate long term growth from an important emerging market.

Asta has always been committed to attracting the best and brightest young people to our industry and to give them the best opportunity to experience the Lloyd’s and London market. We were therefore delighted to welcome Turki Al Wijri from SAMA to work with us for the duration of his internship and to provide him with the best possible experience to take back with him to Saudi.

After graduating from university in Saudi, Turki joined SAMA and within two years had completed professional insurance qualifications and been selected by his employer to study for a master’s degree in Science & Finance at George Washington University in the US. On returning to SAMA, Turki undertook a variety of roles from inspecting insurers on aspects such as underwriting, claims and governance to being part of the supervision team looking specifically at insurance company solvency.

Turki’s qualifications and broad experience made him a natural candidate for the Lloyd’s programme. He was put forward by his manager who felt that he was ready to take his career to the next level and benefit from an invaluable experience – not just for Turki, but also for SAMA and the wider Saudi insurance market.

“The Lloyd’s market is very well-known around the world so when I was told about the opportunity to experience it at first hand, I felt so lucky and couldn’t wait to join the programme and learn everything I could”.

After a successful interview with Lloyd’s in Saudi Arabia Turki joined a SAMA colleague and ten of his peers in the Saudi market for the trip to London. On arrival, Turki spent time at Lloyd’s attending presentations by senior managers providing high-level information on Lloyd’s structure and operations and a more detailed insight to the activities of the International Regulatory Affairs team. Here, Turki was able to understand more about the Lloyd’s operating model and the specific roles of Lloyd’s, Managing Agents, Coverholders and Service Companies – and how these are all brought together to enable Lloyd’s to operate in a market such as Saudi Arabia. Not only that, but it was clear to Turki that the programme provided a great opportunity not just for him to learn about Lloyd’s but also to raise awareness of Saudi Arabia and the opportunities it presented.

“I wanted to bring to Lloyd’s information about what we had in Saudi Arabia. I have noticed here that not many people understand the Saudi market, which may be one of the reasons why Lloyd’s has very little business in there”.

After his time at Lloyd’s Turki joined us here at Asta, working with a range of teams to understand their specific roles and how they all combine to provide the seamless and expert service on which we have built our reputation.

The work of our Finance and Audit teams were familiar ground for Turki. Regulatory reporting is a requirement in Saudi and many aspects of audit work were very similar to that undertaken as part of this role with SAMA.

After that, stints in Risk Management and Compliance – where Turki found both teams “extremely well organised” – further developed Turki’s knowledge. Turki identified key differences between Asta’s risk management processes and SAMA’s – the risk events form being one thing he hadn’t come across before. In compliance, as well as attending the team weekly meeting where Turki learnt about the different compliance function roles and Asta’s responsibilities to our syndicates. He was struck by how the team needed to understand each client’s compliance position and needs so that they each received the most appropriate advice and support.

Turki then joined our Business Development team where he learnt about the requirements for businesses entering Lloyd’s, how they are looked after at Asta and, if they choose, how they go on to establish their own managing agency.

“I found the role of the business development team both interesting and stressful. On the one hand they are helping people establish a new business in a world-renowned market and on the other you are always looking for the next client – something which I can see will be challenging for everyone next year”

In Turki’s third week with us he spent time with the Underwriting Team which he found very interesting.

“I spent a week with the Underwriting Team and they took care of me very well. The team has very broad responsibilities – from overall underwriting oversight and delegated authority management to claims oversight and exposure management. This was a new experience for me and I learnt so much”.

Asta’s role in providing underwriting oversight was a new experience for Turki. In Saudi’s company market insurers undertake internal independent peer review, but there is not the additional third-party oversight that happens here in Lloyd’s and the managing agents’ role in ensuring that syndicates adhere to their SBF and Lloyd’s minimum standards.

“At first, I thought that Asta were involved in commercial underwriting decisions, but when I saw that their focus was purely one of oversight I saw the value Asta brings to the underwriting process by ensuring compliance with the SBF and Lloyd’s standards”.

On Turki’s final day he made a presentation to the Executive and Senior Management team. A challenge perhaps for any intern, but one that Turki met head on with typical commitment and enthusiasm!

As well as detailing his experiences and what he had learnt during his time at Asta, he gave us a very useful insight to the Saudi insurance market, its regulatory landscape and the potential untapped opportunities it held for us here in the UK.

Before he left to return to Saudi we asked Turki what he thought was the best part was about living and working in London.

“Everyone at Asta has been so kind to me. They are professional; they get the job done but, they look after their people. And London is nice, the food is good!”

And Turki’s least favourite thing about London?

“When I arrived, the weather was lovely. In my last week though it was so cold, and despite such an amazing experience in London, I was suddenly very keen to return home!”