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London market ‘should worry’ about broking entrepreneurialism: Howden

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The lack of broking entrepreneurialism in recent years “should worry” the London market, David Howden told Insurance Insider’s London Market Conference during a closing session yesterday with Richard Watson, CEO of start-up insurer Inigo.

The Howden CEO flagged that McGill and Partners was the only major broking start-up to have emerged in recent years in the London market, and that carriers were leading the way with new launches.

“On the distribution side, not the underwriting side, it (entrepreneurialism) is not really there. That should worry the London market,” he explained.

“You need people like me 27 years ago to be doing this, to provide alternative distribution.”

Howden highlighted that it was difficult for start-up brokers to gain traction with clients and to build sufficient scale to invest in technology.

However, he pointed out that the lack of start-ups was down to a lack of entrepreneurial talent.

“In the London market, we are losing [entrepreneurial] talent to elsewhere,” he stated.

“It’s not coming here, on the broking side, but entrepreneurial talent is absolutely there outside this market.”

On the subject of climate-related issues, Inigo CEO Watson said there were some risks the carrier “definitely won’t have anything to do with”, but he was against the “naming and shaming” of specific businesses.

“I don’t love it when carriers say ‘we won’t cover this or that risk’. If you bring a client to me, and ask me to insure them, I don’t think it’s a matter of public discussion on whether I do or don’t insure that risk,” he noted. “It’s private.”

Howden critiqued those whose approach to climate change was to simply withdraw completely from exposed lines of business.

Clients are looking at us, and if our answer is ‘no, we’re pulling out of that’, you have to ask yourself – what is your role in this world, if everything is a bit too dangerous?

“We have to be there for the transition.”

Looking to the future, both expressed an aspiration for the London market to be recognised as a centre of excellence for risk management.

“I’d also like to see a stronger link between capital and the derivatives market, which has grown massively in a short space of time and overtaken us,” Howden said.

“I’d like to see the London market leading that link and be really smart in attracting capital.”

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