Sharon Brown speaks at MGAA conference in London

16 September 2021

Harbour Underwriting’s managing director Sharon Brown appeared on a panel at the Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA) conference in London on Wednesday 15 September to discuss ‘What is the new normal?’

Sharon kicked off the discussion by saying one of the main challenges during the pandemic and as we slowly emerge into the post-pandemic world is capacity and getting in front of people to tell your story.

“It has been hard to have these conversations and to be able to tell your story because there’s an energy and enthusiasm around capacity provision that isn’t told in a two-dimensional document,” she said. “Capacity providers need to be looking not just at the vanilla but also at the chocolate chip, and we certainly sit at the chocolate chip area of insurance.”

“Storytelling can take a long time, but when you are not face to face, it is easier for underwriters to say no. The opportunities are there, but it has been a struggle to have these conversations.

Sharon continued by saying that if MGA’s want to secure underwriting capacity, they need to embrace technology, look to the future by creating a good story and provide excellent data. “By doing that, it becomes an obvious choice for insurers,” she said.

Is remote working the new normal?

The panellist, who included Paul Dooley, UK commercial director at Great American International Insurance (UK), and Andre Symes, co-CEO of Genasys, also discussed remote working and whether it will be “the new normal”.

Sharon said there had been benefits to remote working during lockdown: “We have learned about teamwork, we’ve learned about empathy, and because we don’t know how our colleagues have suffered through this, there’s a whole line of things that I think that we need to make sure that we don’t forget.”

A downside, however, has been what it has meant for talent progression, learning and networking. The opportunity for less experienced staff to learn by “osmosis” had been lost.

Sharon said that although Harbour Underwriting had decided not to return to the office full time, employees will come together twice a week to “network and collaborate”.

“Events like today show how invaluable networking is,” she concluded.

Sharon was also interviewed by Insure TV, so look out for a link to that in a future article.

You can watch the full panel session here.

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