Making lockdown work – views from the market: Raj Rana
Raj Rana - Head of War and Terrorism at Bowring Marsh Ltd is used to managing teams in a variety of locations and thinks the widespread adoption of technology during lockdown has added a new and welcome dimension to their relationships.
“This is a super people business, but we are all functioning fine!” said Raj Rana who leads the war and terrorism practice at Marsh. Her team is spread out across London, Birmingham and Norwich and they are wholesaling business from other Marsh offices around the world, and technology has really come into its own during the lockdown. “It is interesting that suddenly we are all using platforms like Zoom to communicate with each other – which we could have done before, but we always just picked up the phone. The ability to see people just adds another dimension that has really helped us to strengthen relationships across locations” she comments.
“April is one of the busiest times of the year for us and we have done really well, both in terms of new business and in renewing existing policies. PPL has been a crucial part of being able to get that business done. We bind around 99% of our contracts on the platform – as well as putting a significant percentage on at submission”. Raj is also seeing other changes to workflows, with colleagues managing their home and work commitments through the lockdown. “Days are longer, but we are not spending time commuting so colleagues are making time for their family commitments. You can use a tool like PPL at any time, so you are not having to work conventional hours” she added. PPL statistics bear this out with increased usage at the beginning and end of the day.
“The key is also to find time for the more relaxed interactions” said Raj. “We have lots of Whatsapp groups for more casual conversations, the banter and just being able to let off a bit of steam. But technology can only take the place of some things, it can’t replace the fact that you can bump into someone in the street when you are in the City and have a chat.”
Raj also believes that some of the changes brought about by the response to COVID-19 will be longer lasting. “Partly the new ways of working work because we are all at home. If only parts of any team or organisation are in the office, it might be very different. But I think we have all learnt that we can do it and will do it more, and for those of us with teams in separate locations we have probably learnt to do it better”. She also thinks that attitudes to the need for travel will change, adding “With costs under scrutiny across the industry, we will definitely be thinking about what travel is really necessary. If Zoom works now for an international meeting, it can work in the future, saving time and money”. But, like everyone else we have spoken to, Raj misses the personal interaction. “I do miss seeing people and just being able catch up, you can’t put a price on that”.