Sustainable profit before growth – Johan Slabbert, CEO, MS Amlin
This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast is Johan Slabbert, CEO, MS Amlin. In the CEO role for 18 months, Johan and Mark’s chat is frank and broad, covering the key areas MS Amlin is focused on, automated underwriting, the attractive hotspots for growth, innovative technology, hybrid working, and the importance of fostering the right culture.
A lot of ground was covered in this discussion, so we picked out some of the standout quotes on specific subjects.
Kicking off the discussion, Mark asks if the market should expect the resumption of growth now that the company has its house in order; Johan answers, “We are working with both our parent and with Lloyd’s to ensure that we actually have sustainable profit before we start growing.” Johan speaks about the opportunity to become more relevant in the US and prioritising profit over growth, “Lloyd’s and ourselves are being very cautious. We are trying to focus on the profit rather than the growth at this point in time. I think that will come in the future.”
Mark moves on to chat about the organisation´s culture, and if Johan is resetting the business. Johan discusses that transforming the culture is not just isolated to MS Amlin as he sees transformation across the industry. Commenting on this, Johan says, “What we are trying to foster here is not yet a culture that is high performing, but a culture that’s collectively contributing, and I say that because contributing is at least getting everybody moving in the same direction. Only then can you go up to the next level and become high performing.” Johan discusses that he´s been doing a lot of excessive communication, and it’s really about changing hearts and minds over a period of time.
As for catering to new and emerging risks, and using alternative data sources, Johan comments, “I think differentiation is really going to be the thing that wins at the end of the day. If I look at insurtech companies, it’s very hard to develop an insurtech capability and tack it on. It’s really about replacing, not adding on…If you can use technology and new data, which is driven by applications, by technology systems, that allows you to differentiate to break down risk into smaller categories and price it differently, I think that’s what’s going to win at the end of the day.”
Automated insurance underwriting is gaining traction in the commercial insurance space, and Mark asks if MS Amlin is interested, Johan responds, “I think we’ll move in that direction. Will we ultimately just be automated? I doubt that because there is the art and science in underwriting. The science is really just the mechanism and the automation and getting to a point. The art is that gut fee – is this the right risk? Is there anything else we haven’t considered that the system or the technology hasn´t told us?”
Enjoy the podcast.