Q. You completed the LMA Syndicate Business Plan Academy programme late last year. What were the key things you learnt?
A. I learnt so much but perhaps the most valuable aspect was to gain a better understanding of the “front line” of the business, rather than just from a compliance perspective. Seeing how the various teams in the business such as underwriting, actuarial, exposure management and reinsurance work together to support the business strategy, made me realise there is so much to think about when “creating” a syndicate. From “how will our reinsurance programme influence the capital required to support our business?” to “what is our Cat exposure and how are we managing it?”
Q. You have a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences, specialising in Infection and Disease. That’s pretty topical right now – how and why did you end up in insurance?
A. Whenever I talk with someone about Coronavirus they always seem surprised (and slightly suspicious!) at how much I know about molecular virology.
I went to University in Leeds with no idea of what I wanted to do afterwards. I chose science because I knew I was good at it and enjoyed it – and the skills you learn can apply to any job.
After Uni I could have either gone on to study medicine, or to a lab doing research. Neither were very “me”, particularly the latter which would involve sitting in a lab in isolation, culturing cells in a lab coat and goggles. The Lloyd’s market seemed like a suitable alternative and with both parents in financial services, I understood the buzz of working in the City and started looking for a career which would keep me stimulated and learning each day.
Q. Describe a typical day/week in Asta’s compliance team.
A. On an interesting day we might get a sanctions query where an insured vessel has been seized by pirates, and negotiators are being deployed to negotiate the release of hostages. The complex sanctions regimes in places like Iran, Russia, Cuba and Venezuela keep us entertained and we have Mr Trump to thank for the ever-changing political climate.
We also get to review some unusual data breaches and suspicious transactions (that usually turn out to be not so suspicious). I like to think of us as detectives of the insurance world. And contrary to what many people think, compliance people don’t spend all day reading statutes or the FCA handbook. Building a rapport with our clients is the best part and showing them that we aren’t there to say “no” but instead keep them safe in a highly regulated industry. And we always try to find a way to say “yes” if we can!
Q. You were awarded “best presenter” at the Academy. Tell us how that happened.
A. Our Syndicate was called Mosaic, an established aligned syndicate with a US parent, predominantly writing casualty property and marine/energy business. Taking a leaf out of Asta’s book, we had an MGA to access the US SME general liability market. Our innovative idea was using Virtual Reality for risk mitigation, training and claims handling.
We presented our Syndicate business plan to a judging panel in the Old Library at Lloyd’s. I have always found presenting nerve wracking – my leg was actually shaking as we got up on stage. But having done various sanctions presentations to our syndicates with my boss Julian over the past year, I must have gained some confidence, as my delivery was supposedly engaging and clear – and I even managed to crack some jokes.
The biggest complement was “have you done presentation training before?” – I was shocked at this comment – maybe I should give up my compliance career at Asta and become an actor instead!
Q. If you weren’t busy keeping Asta’s clients compliant – and if you weren’t an actor – what would you be doing?
A. I would probably use my Biological Sciences degree to do something related to fitness. Fitness is a passion of mine and I have an Instagram page that aims to motivate others to leading a healthy and active lifestyle. During quarantine it has been so nice to see people taking up running and other activities to stay or get in shape. I love sport, so anything related to that would keep me occupied!
Otherwise I would try and go back in time and hope to find myself clever enough to do an Astrophysics degree – I’m fascinated by stars and the Universe.
Q. The Asta netball team reigned supreme in 2019. What do you think made you the best team in the London Go Mammoth League?
A. I think its definitely down to our spirit and perseverance. The year before we actually came last! We were horribly frustrated and a couple of poor referee decisions left a lot of the girls reluctant to play the next season. But my job as captain was to keep morale and spirit high. After a few weeks off, we were transformed and came back fighting, earning a reputation for being the loudest team in the league because we cheered every interception and goal. By the end, the energy in the team was electric. When you come last the only way is up – and boy, putting on that gold medal felt good!