Jim Duncan was appointed GM for Chubb in Ireland following its acquisition by ACE earlier this year
Irish Broker took the opportunity to talk to him
How do you think brokers have responded to the new Chubb?
Change is continuous in our profession now, so it doesn’t faze us or our brokers. The new Chubb offers real opportunities for development and progress, which is why brokers have responded in such a positive way. Pre-merger, Chubb was perceived by the Irish market more as a specialist insurer, while ACE was seen more as a general insurer with specialist capabilities. By combining the size, skill and security of the businesses and their multinational capabilities, we’ve become a much more important partner for our brokers. At a fundamental level, they have more business with us while we offer broader capabilities, a greater breadth of capacity, and a stronger focus on multinational coverage.
What challenges do you think brokers are facing at the moment?
Brokers are seeing more opportunities because the economy is in a far healthier state. But the Irish market has seen significant changes with regard to major carriers in the last few years. It’s accurate to say that up to 50% of insurer capacity here is in a state of flux and transition. This is hard for brokers: they’re looking for medium-to-long term partnerships. They don’t want short term volatility and pricing. There have been challenges for brokers around claims costs and the impact that has on premiums. That can make for some difficult messages that brokers have to give to their clients. Our approach is to address it early and meet face-to-face with the client and broker, on a tripartite basis.
On the subject of getting out and about, can you talk us through your average working week?
I like to get into the office around 7.30am. I recently moved from County Meath to Malahide which gives me a much shorter commute. On Monday mornings, we have a trading meeting with all staff. This is basically an opportunity to be aware of any significant upcoming renewals or new opportunities. We don’t want to have isolated or uncoordinated contact with brokers, but instead do it in a joined-up way. We’ll talk about broker and client meetings – give colleagues the chance to contribute and mention their lines of business. After that, I’ll attend a number of key meetings with client relationship management teams focusing on larger clients and making sure we’re scanning ahead on a quarterly basis. It’s vital to prepare in advance because lead-in times are longer for these clients. In a typical week, there will be a number of key broker meetings, some informal, some one-to-one, and regular interaction with the claims team.
You were named President of the Insurance Institute for 2016. How have you found the experience?
Funny you should mention that because I’ve just been asked to stay on for a second year as President. This is, to my knowledge, the first time in over a century that someone has been President for a second year, which is a real honour. It’s hard work but helped immeasurably by the fantastic team managing the Insurance Institute, both at the national level and the regional level with the local institutes and councils. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised – and hugely impressed by the value of the role played by the Insurance Institute. I never appreciated how focused they are on the level of innovative technology used to deliver CPD sessions and important educational training. For example, the other day we were discussing the gamification of CPD. The presentation given to us demonstrated what we’re doing and what we will do over the next 12–24 months for young professionals. I was deeply impressed by the ambitious nature of the work and the sheer degree of innovation involved.
How is the industry progressing with encouraging diversity and the under-35s?
I think it’s fair to say we have similar issues to the London insurance market. Our profession has challenges in getting our messaging right at second and third-level education and demonstrating the depth and diversity of opportunity that we offer. Most insurance professionals, if asked how they got into the industry, will say they followed a fairly circuitous route but were pleasantly surprised by the sector and what it offers them. Our focus now is to get into secondary schools and colleges to articulate the attractive opportunities we offer; from specialist underwriting and claims investigation to data analytics and disruptive marketing. We will continue to develop our strategies to attract the best talent into our profession.