UK boss Alan Moore hails Generali as a 'viable alternative' to corporate insurance establishment
UK head Alan Moore says Generali will learn from mistakes of others in multinational global corporate space
Former group CEO Mario Greco helped "empower" countries to be more flexible
Recent multinational property win shows brokers are "warming" to business
No plans to grow UK branch footprint
Generali is "a sleeping giant" in terms of corporate multinational business and could position itself as a real competitor to the likes of AIG, Allianz and Zurich, says its UK head.
Alan Moore, left Zurich in December 2015 to take up the role of global chief underwriting officer at Generali in March 2016 and head of the UK in the following summer. He told Post that having set up a united global corporate and commercial business four years ago under then group CEO Mario Greco, it is now a viable alternative to many of the established players: "Yes, we were 10 to 15 years later than some others in establishing a GC&C business.
"But that has some advantages. Obviously the aim is to build on some of the good things we have seen done elsewhere, but also to learn from some of the mistakes, particularly when it comes to building too many layers of complexity.
"Our aim is to empower the countries as much as possible while retaining a slim central function. This should enable us to take decisions and to be flexible as close to the customer as possible."
Moore, who spent 10 years at Zurich in roles such as chief underwriting officer for the Nordic region and head of financial lines - as well as time with AIG and Allianz - notes that the GC&C business currently controls €2bn (£1.7bn) of premium, while his UK empire employs 120 people across two centres in London and Birmingham.
Globally, the GC&C business has nine main centres in Milan, London, Madrid, Paris, Munich, Prague, New York, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong, but a global network reach of over a 140 countries.
Generali is now a "challenger"
"Since the establishment of the GC&C, we have successfully managed to apply some new approaches to this segment in countries where penetration was historically quite low, and where we are now a challenger. We have also further consolidated our multinational capabilities in core countries where we have always operated with a global approach."
He adds: "We now definitely feel there is an opportunity in this market for a global corporate carrier that has the capabilities of Generali. Until recently, many hadn't really considered Generali as a competitor in this space in the UK market, especially for multinational programme business. Now I am actually here I can see we have the network, the tools and capabilities to compete and that was my biggest positive surprise when I arrived."
Reflecting on the UK, Moore notes "brand awareness is limited", as Generali does not have a sizable retail arm like many of its competitors, even though the Italian insurance giant has had a presence here since the 1960s.
Despite this, he is confident Generali is now making waves. "Given the expertise we have built up in areas such as loss prevention and client/broker relationship management, coupled with the fact some of the successful competitors have retrenched somewhat while they deal with some of the internal challenges they are facing, customers and brokers are looking for a viable alternative."
Not too many alternatives
Moore adds: "Speaking to the global brokers and multinational customers, there are not too many alternatives to the established. We are one of the few alternative markets with the network and the multi-line capabilities to deliver for these clients and who can be a challenger to some of the established corporate and commercial markets. The challenge for us is establishing our credentials and increasing awareness in our brand.
"For example, we recently won a relatively high-profile UK-based multinational account. When I met with the risk manager some time ago, she admitted that she had never considered Generali in the past, but was now looking for an alternative.
"Once we were able to demonstrate our capabilities to both the customer and the broker, it gained comfort and we won the lead on its global property programme. I also feel that some of the brokers are starting to warm to us in the UK, because they are seeing us as a new alternative for their large UK customers and particularly those with international needs. We have invested in people and skills."
Moore stresses that in order to maintain its "combined ratio in the low 90s", Generali is not interested in taking "the primary lead on jumbo accounts" but instead focus on corporate mid-market clients.
A more personal and flexible approach
"Depending on the broker, some clients with turnover even in the €150m-€500m range have been sent down such a transactional facilitised route. So what we are trying to do is bring a more personal and flexible approach to doing business with these customers - to ensure that they receive a very high level of service. What we are also trying to do is push empowerment into the countries so staff can make decisions within a framework, so we have a good story to tell."
Outside London, Generali's Birmingham hub is run by long-standing employee Max Kemp, and when asked if it would ever consider opening other branches to serve its regional brokers and their corporate clients, Moore is circumspect.
"At the moment, we are of the view that we can run the UK regional business from Birmingham. But we will revisit that continuously every five to 10 years. Quite a lot of others have opened up in Glasgow and then pulled out again, so I am not 100% convinced that we need to be physically located in numerous cities throughout the UK. I believe we can grow and service the UK regional business from our hub in Birmingham."
Since taking up his role, Moore has attracted a number of senior staffers to the business, including Stewart Stokes and Edmund Wiley as UK and international portfolio managers within its property division, and Darrin Tasker as head of casualty. These have been complemented this month by the recruitment of Peter Leslie as chief underwriting officer UK from Tokio Marine Kiln, replacing Massimo Orsini, who was named as global head of aviation.
However, Moore is not into recruiting for recruiting's sake, and does not see the UK head count changing too dramatically in the coming years. "We will continue to focus on the London market business, we are retaining that focus. But where I see the real place for accelerated growth, where we have under-batted in the past, is the UK corporate and commercial piece and particularly on the multinational side.
"While we will be pushing hard on all UK corporate and commercial business, we will pay particular attention to the multinational segment, as there are a limited number of markets who can compete on these programmes."