Q. Carbon. The story behind the name?
A. Our original name was Jigsaw. We liked the association with "putting the pieces together" but a few others had the same name. Carbon - the most plentiful element on earth - can, through pressure and bonding, transform into diamonds. That resonated - the idea of transforming something abundant into something of real value - and for us that means creating strong, long-term partnerships with like-minded people.
Q. Where do you see Carbon in 3-5 years' time?
A. Syndicate (in-a-box) 4747 started underwriting in July alongside our existing MGA business. This dual approach will continue with 4747 hopefully evolving into a full syndicate by the end of year three - or sooner if market conditions allow.
Our technology ecosystem (Graphene) will also evolve. As new ways of managing data are created Graphene will adapt to better inform our own underwriting and also share data with our fellow markets, brokers, reinsurers and policyholders. Graphene potentially has much wider appeal and we could licence it at some point, partuclarly in the delegated authority space.
Q. Carbon has been described as ‘the first real test of the Lloyd’s Syndicate-in-a-Box (SIAB) framework’. How was it for you and the Carbon team?
A. As you would expect Lloyd’s could not have been more helpful. Asta were also fantastic – their experienced team immediately understood and bought into our plan. And even though we knew Lloyd’s well, having Asta hold our hand through the process was incredibly valuable.
As an MGU, having our own syndicate has huge benefits – we have complete control over our own capital without searching for capacity every year, as a lot of MGAs do. This, combined with the Lloyd’s brand, licensing, and ratings, and Asta’s cost-effective management, all adds up to a hugely compelling proposition.
Q. The Lloyd’s market is busy creating an ecosystem to support the digital transformation of claims, underwriting, coverholder processes and data standards. What’s missing?
A. The focus on modernisation is much needed, but I wonder whether the market will start sharing data properly! As underwriters we get frustrated at being unable to access a single source of truth – there are too many people producing too many people versions of the same data. It’s nonsense; we should all be sharing data from a central pool to reduce the costs and duplication of work that we know hampers the market.
Q. How hopeful are you about the Future at Lloyd’s?
A. I’m hopeful. John Neal’s practical attitude and reforming zeal is essential to combat the inertia that has historically held the market back. Frankly, if that doesn’t happen we’re going to struggle – we simply must drive costs out of the market. Absolutely no question.
Q. It goes without saying that COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for all of us. What’s your view on the insurance industry’s response to the crisis and how optimistic are you about its future?
A. The industry has been caught slightly on the back foot from a PR perspective. The media are quick to point out our failings but say little about the positive role insurance plays in our economy or in promoting social good. Believe it or not, we are here to help, we get people through crises and we make those ex-gratia payments when they are most needed. If we can get more of those messages across, all that noise goes away.
Q. How was lockdown for the Carbon team?
A. We set up as a technology-driven business so we easily embraced remote working. We’ve been working odd and often long hours and we had to get used to doing business primarily via video meetings. But it’s been absolutely seamless from day one. Let’s not forget what bought most of us into insurance though! People are what make this industry special and whilst there are benefits to remote working, we do need to get back face-to-face – when the time is right and when it adds value to the way we do business.
Q. You’re a Learning Engagement Volunteer at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. Tell us something we don’t know.
A. Duxford has a full-size Lancaster Bomber and my first role was to talk about what life was like sitting inside. Having served as an Army officer for 25 years, I knew the importance of understanding the human cost of war and empathising with the personal stories of those involved. I try to bring these aspects to life at Duxford whilst highlighting the quite staggering statistics – 125,000 people served as volunteer aircrew with Bomber Command during the Second World War. Of those, 55,500 (45% of the total) were killed. Their average age was 21. Incomprehensible isn’t it?
Q. The Lions Tour is hopefully on track for the middle of 2021. As a Saracens fan, how many players do you think will make the squad and will their chances be affected by playing in the Championship next season?
A. One positive since the Premiership re-start is that they’ve been able to blood their talented youngsters. Sarries have a great Academy and there are more talented guys coming through who will get a lot of games next season. The England players will get over the bruises and breaks and come out stronger for the Lions tour. Most of them will be in contention and playing in the Championship shouldn’t be a barrier. I just hope the tour goes ahead as I have never been on one and want to go!