Success brings the right to remain independent – David Ibeson, CEO, Apollo Syndicate Management
This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance is David Ibeson, CEO, Apollo Syndicate Management, and a Lloyd’s veteran with over twenty-five years in the market, twenty of which he has spent in the CEO role at Lloyd’s managing agencies. Although this week’s episode comes under 30 mins, host Mark Geoghegan and David cover a lot of ground, discussing strategy, Nat Cat appetites, the sharing economy, tech challenges, algorithmic underwriting, and ESG.
Kicking off the discussion, David discusses his views on the state of the market and Apollo’s strategy within it. As the conversation leads to the key focus areas for Apollo and how to drive efficiency, David comments, “I think the key, and this is something that we’re working on is how you improve efficiency, how you improve rate analysis and how you improve client selection, and how you improve client engagement, that way, maybe you can outperform the rest of the market in terms of keeping going longer into the cycle.”
As for rate adequacy, Davis expects it to improve in 2022 for all classes Apollo is in, except one. Comment on this, David says, “Given the results we’re seeing in the market, with the cats happening, I would expect good rate adequacy to last for quite a few years.”
Technology Is Finally Good Enough
Discussion on the digitisation of the insurance value chain continues unabated. The debate on how much of the underwriting process should be automated with algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and other innovative technologies is still a key topic for the industry. Mark asks David about his views on technology challenges; David responds, “One of the exciting things to have happened over the last three years is that technology has finally been good enough to deal with something as intrinsically messy as insurance.”
And what about the challenges the market faces with the increasing volume of structured and unstructured data entering the underwriting process? David remarks, “Some of the biggest challenges, data ingestion because there is so much information, it’s how you absorb that, analyse it and the actuaries and data scientists are constantly working on ways to crunch the data and use the data for pricing.”
The topic of algorithmic underwriting usually brought up the weekly podcasts, still elicits a mixed response from interviewees. On the subject, David opines, “I think algorithmic underwriting intellectually interests me. I think it works for homogeneous data sets. We are looking at how we can combine scalability and processing power of computers with sort of analysis and client relationships and decision-making of quality underwriters. So algorithmic, I think you’re probably saying no human involvement. I think we’re more augmented, which is computer power plus underwriting power which we think can be operationally efficient and perhaps deal with some of the more nuanced elements of risk selection.”
As the interview draws to a close, Mark asks David for his long-term plans for the business; David comments, “So in terms of your what kind of business are we, I would say we are one that wants to keep building successfully. I think if we are successful, you retain the right to be independent…. Philosophically as a business, we want to grow, develop and keep growing and develop and retaining the independence of management here.”
Enjoy the podcast.