A GLOBAL VIEW: PHIL HOBBS, PRESIDENT & MANAGING DIRECTOR, LIBERTY SPECIALTY MARKETS
Phil Hobbs, President and Managing Director at Liberty Specialty Markets, is this week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast. Speaking with Mark Geoghegan, Phil delves into the impact of the recent reinsurance reset on the insurance market dynamics. He examines the growth prospects for cyber insurance, the resurgence of inflation, the progress of the London Market’s big technology reforms and digitisation programme, the role of ESG, and provides his perspective on the post-pandemic work environment and more.
Only six months into the job, Mark asks Phil to describe how his leadership style differs from his predecessor. Phil comments that he worked closely with the last leader for five years, so this was a continuity appointment in some ways. However, commenting on his approach, Phil says, “Regardless of my current style, what I would say is that the style I’m going to need to have is very much as a transformational leader.” Phil explains that this is to do with the changes around the wider Liberty group and Global Risk Solutions, of which he is now part of the executive team. Although his role is quite different from his predecessor’s, Phil says, “very much it’s a transformational leadership role, and that’s a big challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The renewal season was particularly challenging for many in the industry. Mark asks Phil for his perspective on how the London Market fared. “I think actually the last few years have been very good for London in that respect,” says Phil. “If you look at the class of 2020, as I call them, a lot of that was quite London focused actually, more than in previous cycles, and that market hardening that took place in a lot of the retail markets around the world, what they needed the London Market for in the last few years actually played to the London Market strengths that underwriting expertise to price business as it increases you know you even saw classes like European property flowing much more into London, so I think London fared very well in the last couple of years.”
Cyber is one of those areas that experienced a reset during the renewal season; what is Liberty’s view for the coming year, asks Mark. Phil discusses how from his perspective, the cyber market still has a few rounds to go. Speaking to many people in the industry, Phil comments on the wide range of views, from some saying that it feels like a manageable risk to others expressing doubt on how it can be insured. Regarding Liberty’s approach, Phil remarks, “We’ve taken a very cautious approach to cyber, we’re actually pretty small in the cyber market, but we do intend to grow in 2023.”
With the London Market’s technology reform push and as technology vendors update their platforms to support Lloyd’s Blueprint Two solution, Mark asks Phil for his assessment on the market’s progress in this digitisation drive. As a former London Market Data Council member in 2022 and recently stepping down, Phil has a unique view of the market’s efforts. “From that point of view, it felt like a lot of progress was made… I got to see first-hand actually some of the teams that are working on this, and a huge amount of effort has going into it. Very smart people working to solve some of these problems and I did think in 2022 that there was good progress made.”
Phil discusses how he thinks there is a desire in the marketplace for technology reform, with many people understanding what’s required and why it’s required. “Also, one thing I’ve observed is maybe this time round, the market is being more practical – the 80/20 rule comes up quite a bit. We can’t possibly have solutions that are going to work for every single risk that comes into the London Market, and I think there is more of a practical view of it let’s get something that works for the vast majority of the business, and that will push us forward hugely.”
Enjoy the podcast.