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alastair swift from wtw and ceo of willis limited

Be Bold & Out There, Alastair Swift, WTW

This week´s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast is Alastair Swift, Head of Corporate Risk and Broking for Global Lines of Business at WTW, as well as CEO of Willis Limited. In this episode, Alastair speaks about WTW´s strategy and vision for now and the future, the London Market, the benefits of digitization in reducing frictional cost, data management, and much more.

Kicking off the discussion, Mark Geoghegan asks about the market and WTW´s position in it, Alastair discusses how the company is in a different place from where it has been before, “For us, one of the key things from point of view of our agenda is actually to get back into a real growth focus mode. It´s nice to be in a position now where we´ve got freedom around what we want to do from an investment perspective, and armed frankly with the capital to be able make those investments.” Alastair expands on the importance of growth for the company, “The growth agenda, front and centre at what we´re looking at doing as a business. I think it aligns very well with where the London Market and the market full stop wants to be, because insurance as an industry, I know, wants to be more relevant to its client base, and I think we can make it be more relevant, and I think we can grow its importance and its value to our customers.” 

Chatting about growth, Mark asks if there are any key specific geographies for WTW, and if growth will come from a particular area, Alastair reveals that cyber will be a crucial area for the business, “There is a huge demand from a client perspective; it´s a very distressed market at the moment.” Alastair explains how the market needs to evolve cyber offerings to meet clients’ needs. Alastair mentions that other potential growth are around carbon neutrality and the drive to net zero by 2050 for many organizations.

Mark seeks Alastair´s view on how the London Market has been performing during this period compared to the rest of this world, Alastair replies, “I love this marketplace, and it’s absolutely unique and I think we should never forget that. Anybody who works here and has the opportunity to operate in this business is incredibly lucky because London has a very unique value proposition in comparison to any other financial centre across the globe. We have the benefit of deep expertise across the insurance industry supported with a very good banking system, very good legal system, and actually a - and not many people would say this - a regulator who actually gives, I think, our customers some confidence around the market as a whole.”

Talking about the organization´s rebrand, Alastair says that the aim is to be “be bold and out there,” commenting further, “We want to come across as one business, one brand, very bold fashion, really thinking around what the future of this industry is and being there to play on a connected basis for our clients so that we´re delivering the entirety of our organization to our client base where and if they want it.”

Mark and most of his interviewees discuss the need for innovation, and this interview is no different. Alastair touches on how brokers can innovate by developing their advisory capabilities to deal with emerging risks, “I think, if you look at some of the emerging risks that are coming through for our client base at the moment, actually working and developing things that help a client manage risk vs transact risk will be one of the roles that a broker has to start moving into. I don´t think you´ll going to be able to just rely on a transactional capability anymore if you really are going to be in the innovation space.”

Speaking about the use of innovative technology, Alastair comments, “If you think of digitization, digitization should be something that is a huge facilitator to this marketplace as well. There´s too much rekeying of information that goes on still. If you can properly digitize data and enter it once into a system from anywhere in the globe, you access capital wherever it is, you create a totally different dynamic and you actually start removing some of the frictional cost that is existing in the transaction today both for a broker and an insurer.”

Commenting on the increased use of different data sources, Alastair says, “All parties in the chain are doubling up with different providers to come up with their own single source of data to actually underwrite a portfolio of risk - how can that make any sense logically in today´s world? We should end up with one source of data, cleanse once and delivered correctly into the insurers and the brokers, and if we can get to that point, then that naturally will take frictional cost out of the system.”

Enjoy the podcast.

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