Building a client & market facing ecosystem – James Kent, Global CEO, Gallagher Re
This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast is James Kent, Global CEO, Gallagher Re. Just one quarter in since the completion of the purchase of Willis Re by Gallagher, James talks to Mark Geoghegan about the prospects that new ownership and investment are going to deliver and why building a customer and market-facing ecosystem are fundamental. James also discusses how technology delivers business efficiencies, how data is transforming the view on risk, mid-year renewals, and the emphasis Gallagher Re is placing on nurturing and fostering talent.
Kicking off the interview, Mark asks James for his first impression on being a part of Gallagher compared to a Wills; James replies, “It’s great to have a firm landing, so to speak after two years of what has been a rather standstill existence, and it has been a great place to land…. and what we found is rather than perhaps what you refer to there as a Gallagher organisation, they would say it’s the Gallagher family and it does feel very much like a family orientated business, but it’s absolutely a sales business. It’s very entrepreneurial, and it’s been a fascinating 90 days, or just over 90 days, where we´ve been made to feel incredibly welcome, part of the business.”
Speaking about the organisation’s focus, James comments on some of the key fundamental areas that the company is seeking to address, “First of all they are two very good businesses, and we want them to become one very special business together. We´re not fixing something that’s broken; what we’re looking to do is build this very special business from two very strong foundations. The second thing we are seeking to do is along this lines of product expertise and regions. We’re looking to overlap everything where a P&L will never get in the way of us best serving our clients. So this idea of a client-centric, client focused organisation where product meets regions, irrespective of where those assets might reside within Gallagher Re to best serve our clients.” James mentions a third and fourth piece about building a global and large complex client group and bringing talent to the business.
Turning the conversation to technology, Mark asks James what’s top of his tech list, and if it has been nice to be able to start from scratch, James responds, “Yes, in a way the acquisition does allow you to stop, sense check, look where we were going, look what Gallagher has today and establish the best way forward.” James also discusses how data is impacting the insurance value chain, “I would say our technology focus really falls into two pieces, one is data availability; everyone that you speak to, Mark, I am sure will tell you about the power of harnessing data, and then the other piece is how we actually run our business, how we service our clients, service our market and that’s having a client and market-facing ecosystem. On the first piece around data availability, it’s the use of that data that is helping transform our view on risk.”
Commenting on the legacy piece, James adds, “But we also have this once in a lifetime opportunity to address our legacy infrastructures and build that client and market-facing ecosystem that will serve our clients from placement right through to the end servicing – think of it as one-stop shopping.”
James also discusses efficiency gains through technology, “Technology actually leads you to be more efficient, and it can have a materially good impact on our business – we can become more efficient, we can also become more effective from a fiscal basis where we can drive efficiency through our business that ultimately is going to make us a more profitable business.”