Operational update

As the business has grown, the value of cross-team collaboration in areas of strategic importance is increasingly recognised.

Scalability is an important requirement for an insurance company. At Beazley we take it to mean, not just continuing to deliver the same level of service as we grow, but wherever possible improving on our service to clients and to brokers.

In 2010, our business, in common with that of other prudent insurers, did not grow overall, although we continued to expand in select targeted markets where we saw short term as well as long term profit potential. But our focus on delivering an exceptional service in the most efficient manner possible remained steady.  We also took steps to equip our teams to capitalise on future growth opportunities.    

Philippe Mazas, chief information officer, and the IT team continued to develop Beazley Pro, the underwriting and policy administration system that we launched in the US in 2009. The growth of our small professional liability business described in the specialty lines division page of this report is due in large measure to our success in responding to brokers’ submissions extremely rapidly – a service that relies on Beazley Pro.  We see such business as offering significant growth potential in the UK and continental Europe, as well as in the US, and we are committed to supporting this business with the most advanced systems available.

Other technology investments are designed to support our efforts to establish closer, more productive relationships with the brokers upon who we rely for business.  In the coming year we will be rolling out our new customer relationship management system to provide all underwriters with instant access to detailed broker records and meeting notes. We also continue to invest more generally in improving our ability to access and analyse data.  Paolo Cuomo is driving the development of BeazleyIntelligence, our new data warehouse and reporting toolkit, which is already enriching our data analytics.              

Efficiency in a business is in large measure a matter of optimising the balance between activities that are undertaken in-house and those that are outsourced to external service providers. Activities that rank as core competencies are usually better performed in-house.

In 2010, we modified this balance in two important areas: claims service for a number of our teams in the US and global recruitment.  In the former case, we began to move responsibility for claims handling away from external law firms (known as monitoring counsel) to our own internal claims staff. In the latter case, we made significant savings on consultants by using our internal recruitment team for searches.

Both of these are core competencies of Beazley. At a time of intensifying competition across our business lines, the quality of our claims service is a reason for clients to choose Beazley over our competitors. And ever since the company was founded in 1986, recruiting exceptional underwriting and claims talent has been fundamental to our success. 

Beazley was established as an underwriting-focused business in 1986 and it remains one. But as the company has grown and become more complex, leadership skills – which are not necessarily to be found in the underwriter’s toolbox – have become increasingly important.  In 2010, we conducted our first leadership survey at Beazley, to help the heads of teams understand how they are perceived by their team members. Penny Malik, head of talent management, and our talent management team have put in place a leadership development and training programme to enable our senior people to act on these insights.

Most of the business transacted at Beazley starts and ends with individual teams focusing on individual lines of business. The business has grown successfully in this way, but the value of cross-team collaboration in areas of strategic importance is also recognised. Two such cross-team initiatives in 2010 focused on the development of our business in Europe, in support of which we created a European Group, led by David Marock, and appointed underwriters as country champions to coordinate our approach to business development in six countries; and innovation and product development, led by Tina Kirby. Tina’s role is to identify the best ideas from across the company and ensure they receive the resources and support they need to develop.       

The physical fabric of our offices has always been an important dimension of working at Beazley. We are always pleased to hear, particularly in the US, that our offices look more like the home of an advertising agency than an traditional insurance company – bright, airy, open plan, and conducive to creativity. Under Munira Hirji, head of commercial management's, guidance, we consolidated our offices in New York, San Francisco and Boston in 2010 into new and better premises, achieving significant annual savings in a commercial real estate market that remains very competitive, while giving ourselves plenty of scope to grow in future.