Bob Finch, CEO of AFL Insurance Brokers, on the importance of focusing more on institutionalising a digitally-led, forward thinking strategy in its latest deal with Zodiac Insurance Services, over the aesthetics
There’s a part of me that finds it quite surprising there are still corners of our industry that remain troubled by the more relaxed dress code in Lloyd’s.
A recent trade press article on this very issue reported that there are even those who are “outraged” by the new code. Dubbed “tie-gate”, it has been highlighted as a micro case study of the wider resistance to change in the London Market, and this got me thinking…
The London Market faces some really big issues around the way in which it operates and transacts business. This is both obvious and pertinent. Innovating and creating more efficiencies should be at the forefront of all London Market operators.
Don’t get tied up in knots
Worrying about whether wearing a tie is an indicator of how suitable an underwriter or broker you are, to me, doesn’t feel like a good use of time and there are plenty other areas where this energy could be better spent. As the famous quote goes, “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. Against a backdrop of such dramatic change in our industry, we as a market, need to be measuring the right things.
At AFL, we encourage a more relaxed view on dress codes and focus more on contribution and employee fulfilment. We attract talented individuals who are motivated by delivering innovative solutions and client satisfaction and we ask them to bring their authentic voices to table everyday.
We don’t tell them what they should sound like or look like to be effective at their role, we value their individuality, not the fact that they fit a preconceived mould. We want to be able to embrace potential regardless of personal circumstance and have a much richer talent pool available to us as a result. Our best and most important assets are our team and our clients, and we work in the most efficient way to suit the needs of both.
Our aim is to lead in the things that matter. So, for us, that means focusing our time and effort on maintaining our standards, on innovation, digitisation, improved efficiency, and of course, our clients’ needs. It’s not in the interest of our clients, or the future of our industry, to cling to the traditional ways of doing things just because that’s how they’ve always been done.
Our recent acquisition of US MGA, Zodiac Insurance Services is an extension of this. At AFL, we are already immersed in, and embrace, the digital age, rather than see it as a threat, which is why our partnership will execute a digital-led strategy.
We see ourselves as enablers – rather than disrupters – and want to bring our experience and expertise into every deal we make. For a successful partnership, it can’t simply be about what we can take from it.
To maximise any deal, we also need to demonstrate how we can contribute to its success. We are so fortunate that we have found a partner in Zodiac President, David Wash, who is aligned with our digital-first strategy and progressive outlook. We see an opportunity to replicate this within Zodiac and create further operational efficiencies.
Working efficiently with clients
Digitisation is at the heart of everything we’re doing from the back office to how we can more efficiently work with clients – both in retail and on the wholesale side. We invest a huge amount of time, energy and resource at AFL into understanding new technologies that could be available to us, by actively embedding ourselves in the insurtech community.
These efforts are very deliberate, with a view to institutionalising innovation as a mindset, and everything we’re learning and integrating here in London will be made available to David and the rest of his team at Zodiac in the US.
It’s key to realise, from our perspective, that the UK really is a decade ahead from the rest of the world when it comes to looking at all the different ways insurance can be bought. As a global operating broker, based in London, we feel it’s our responsibility to ensure these ideas are being implemented elsewhere.
So, drop the tie… or don’t, that really is up to you now. But don’t drop the ball on the digitisation agenda, the industry’s future relies on it.