Making lockdown work – views from the market: Rupert Bedford

In a remote-working world, risk-presentation is all-important

Rupert Bedford,  Broking Director,  Downstream Natural Resources - Willis Towers Watson

“We are a country mile from where we were” said Rupert Bedford when discussing what had changed since remote work was introduced in the London Market at the end of March this year. Rupert freely admits to being of a generation that has worked in the traditional way for most of his career, but is also convinced that the market has been able to trade through this extraordinary period because it has tools like PPL for placing and binding risks, and also Microsoft Teams and Skype in place to have the all important conversations that underpin the placement of large and complex risks.

“Six weeks in you can see what is working, and clearly the preferred route is PPL – almost nobody is relying on email to get risks bound” he said. The part of the process that is unchanged – except for the medium, is the conversation with the underwriter. Rupert highlighted the fact that, while PPL is a great repository of documents that accompany any risk, the key skill for the broker is getting to the front of the underwriter’s queue – even if that is now a virtual queue rather than at the box. “You have to put proper thought into the presentation of the risk” continued Rupert, “a carefully crafted email to the underwriter picking out the really salient points that speak to their risk appetite etc is critical to getting their attention. Then they can look at all the supporting information at their leisure.”

And business is getting done; renewals are good and conversations are happening albeit in a less spontaneous, more organised way. “It is harder with new risks” added Rupert “there is no doubt that it is easier to talk about scope and cover in a more informal way when you can just bump into people. And it is a given that there will be less travel – post renewal meetings that we would have had face to face we will do on video and it will be interesting to see how they differ”.

There is absolutely no doubt for Rupert that everyone in the market misses its unique face to face interactions but technology like PPL has saved the day. “It has been a massive learning curve” said Rupert, “I was convinced I could not work from home, but I am there and there is no doubt that I still will do some even when the market goes back”.