Q. Asta is the leading third-party managing agent at Lloyd's. And with four new clients this year, Asta is extremely busy. What does this mean when it comes to resourcing, client service and maintaining the high standards of governance required by Lloyd's and the regulators?
CB. We've always had a flexible business model, one that adapts to fluctuations in client numbers and market conditions. Our clients also have different needs and strategies, with many now having a preference for longer tenure under third party management. Depending on the number that are joining us – or migrating – this means we can flex our resources. At the same time, we’re constantly exploring ways to transform processes and use our resources more efficiently.
The formation of centralised Data and Client Management teams are two examples of how restructuring can support our growth strategy. Earlier this year, we recruited Leslie Edmonds as Head of Business Change, a new role for Asta and an appointment that reinforces our commitment to this crucial area.
LH. We’re extremely flexible, but this doesn't mean we compromise on the quality of our service. It’s critical to the growth of our business model that we continue to meet Lloyd's and regulatory requirements and demonstrate best practice corporate governance. This commitment has been reinforced by the recent appointment of Stephen Redmond as an additional Independent Non-Executive Director. He brings strong underwriting expertise to our board, and his input will be invaluable as we welcome additional new business. And while process improvement and technology can have benefits to our organisation, we won't hesitate to recruit more of the best people to ensure the quality of service for all our clients.
For obvious reasons, the last fifteen months have been extremely challenging. When we're welcoming new clients while maintaining our usual high standards of service, it's easy to lose sight of staff morale and well-being. We’re proud of the fact that at Asta everyone is valued, treated with respect, and given the encouragement to take their careers to new heights. Our culture is extremely important to us, and as we grow, we’re determined to ensure we maintain our reputation as a uniquely diversified business.
Q. What do you mean by a "uniquely diversified" business?
LH. Each one of our clients is different. They range from MGAs underwriting in the Middle East and Europe, to technology-led Syndicates and those supported by capital based in the US and Bermuda, and others who specialise in specific product lines or classes of business. All are at different stages of their lifecycle, with one client having partnered with us for nearly ten years and the most recent commencing underwriting this month. We're the only third party managing agent operating at Lloyd's that has this diversity of clients. This means that to provide the right service at the right time for each one, we need a broad range of skills and depth of experience.
CB. Because of the diversity of our clients, our staff face exciting new challenges every day. Asta provides a unique opportunity to gain broad experience in a dynamic environment which promotes cross-team working and collaboration. If you want to develop your career in insurance, I can’t think of a better place to be.
Q. With everyone so busy and many people still working from home, how is Asta's culture maintained and enhanced - for both existing staff and new joiners?
CB. As Lorraine suggested, maintaining a positive culture is crucial to the way we work. It helps us attract and retain the best people and is a major contributor to our success and future growth.
Excellence, collaboration and adaptability are our core values, and of these three, collaboration has never been more important than during lockdown. Our teamworking ethos has enabled us to maintain high levels of service, and ensure everyone remains engaged, motivated and valued.
This hasn’t been just about Teams calls, but about finding ways in which our people can socialise. One way we've done this is by encouraging staff who live close to each other to meet up. This has led to some unexpected collaborations – people from different teams have shared experiences and knowledge in ways that probably wouldn't have happened in the office.
We also have a very proactive Culture Committee that organises events and other initiatives to share news, views and insights that reflect and elevate the diverse voices within our business. These activities have been particularly important during lockdown, but they will remain and develop as we return to the office.
LH. While the office still plays a very important role in maintaining our culture and supporting our values, the last year has showed us all that we can adapt successfully to new ways of working. We don't want to lose the significant benefits these bring to our business by simply reverting to "normality", so we've been developing a flexible working policy that we believe leads the market. This commitment to our core value of adaptability provides the home/work balance our people value and ensures it’s business as usual for our clients wherever our colleagues are located.
Q. How do you see the next 12 months at Asta?
LH. Post-Covid, I think the insurance market is going to thrive, with Lloyd's enhancing its reputation as a place where entrepreneurs will want to start a new business. Asta will be at the heart of this by providing the solutions needed to meet the needs of all types of start-up. I think we’ll also play a key role in shaping the future at Lloyd's – helping to influence key issues, affect change and foster a diverse and inclusive industry. Our approach to all of this will be strengthened by our independence which, with none of our own underwriting capital at risk, means we can take an objective view of the things that really matter and focus on the needs of our clients and the wider market.
CB. Over the next 12 months we expect to continue growing and our recruitment program will naturally follow suit. We are also future-proofing our organisation with major process improvements which deliver tangible benefits to our clients. And given the success of our approach to flexible working, I look forward to engaging with motivated colleagues who see Asta as a place where they can develop their knowledge and feel trusted, valued and rewarded.