As we approach our 3rd full month working from home in isolation, it now feels normal to wake up and be at your desk in the next room. I am sure this has been a unique journey for us all. I feel very proud of myself and my husband to have both made it this far adapting to working and living, within the same space. Has it been stressful? Yes! However like the rest of the world in this pandemic, without physical contact with our families and friends for months now, we’re all still here fighting and carrying on with our everyday lives, hanging onto the fact that the next day will be better than the last. Success is just around the corner; positive stories are everywhere!
I feel very fortunate that the sector I work in recruitment is catastrophe risk, we have without doubt rallied the storms that have been blowing through these past few months. My colleagues and I have been able to get closer than ever to our clients and candidates to support them and advise them around market changes, not just from a recruitment perspective, but what the market is thinking around the ‘new normal’ whatever that actually may be. Following on from several conversations with different professionals in the field, we realised there is a lot of uncertainty across many different topics, especially how the catastrophe risk and the exposure management industry will respond during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thankfully, I had the opportunity to get the thoughts of a senior voice in the market, Alan Godfrey, Head of Group Casualty and Cyber at Axis Capital, we discussed several topics which have been the most common questions we’ve come across in the market.
What parts of the market do you see being particularly affected by the Covid-crisis and how do you think those effects will develop over time?
The repercussions of this event will be complex and hard to anticipate. How the short-term impact transitions into a longer-term effect is particularly unpredictable. Fundamentally though, my thoughts turn to the junior-end of the market in all areas.
In the short-term, apprenticeship / work-experience opportunities have been diminished. Wider networking and recruitment opportunities have dried up. The industry has always had an image problem recruiting bright new talent, but once in the door working in the City has a vibrancy and energy to it that helps to retain that talent. Will it be the same experience if the working environment becomes predominantly remote?
Career development at the junior level is a mixture of structured training alongside the osmosis effect of overheard conversations, shadowing senior roles, tagging along to meetings. Not to mention the value of coffee-machine networking or bumping into the CEO in the lift!
Managers will need to adapt their approaches to continue to provide motivation, direction and energy – but the current generation will doubtless suffer while the new best practice is developed.
Reflecting on the Catastrophe Modelling & Exposure Management market – how do you think skill sets or team structures will change (if at all) as a reaction to Covid-19?
Honestly, I don’t think that there will be an immediate impact to the Catastrophe Modelling & Exposure Management market as a result of this – outside of any wider impact to the market as a whole.
However, if the “new reality” is a shift to remote working longer term, I would imagine that Managers will need to adapt their styles and approaches, and will have to work harder to retain talent. Where traditionally those with technical skills have risen up and found themselves running teams, we may find a shift towards those with greater people management skills rising to the top – with flatter structures that support being more agile with technical capabilities.
With the Atlantic storm season about to begin, how do you think the market will cope should it prove an active year, considering the current disruption?
I don’t foresee the market faring any worse because of this. From what I’ve seen we’ve demonstrated that business-as-usual – certainly for back-office functions – is perfectly possible while working remotely.
If anything – I would imagine that any major events this year would be dealt with more efficiently than normal, simply due to the heightened state of focus that everyone is in right now!
How have you coped with working from home and how do you think working patterns will change within the market going forwards?
My wife and I both work and we have a five year-old daughter, so when schools closed we had to adapt. For us this meant shifting our working hours and fortunately enough our respective companies were supportive of this agility. The technology has held up astonishingly well and it didn’t take us long to set up our home environment to support us.
What really made all of this possible was the flexible approach that our companies took to our working hours and approach, and I think that this is the future. There are pros and cons to all approaches and trying to coordinate a team when everyone is working flexible hours doesn’t come without challenges – but the pros outweigh this in my mind and move us towards a world where we acknowledge that not everyone’s energy and focus aligns with an arbitrary 9-to-5.
In the aftermath of this event, where do you foresee there being areas of growth?
We’ve already seen a move in recent years towards increased investment in Exposure Management for Liability and other non-natural catastrophe lines, and I think that this trend will continue. That is not to say that this would be a direct result of this pandemic – but it serves as a timely reminder of the extent to which systemic risks in these other lines can hurt the industry.
It has been a pleasure talking to Alan and I would like to thank him for his time and valuable thoughts around current events. I hope you find this article useful and I would welcome further thoughts, views on the topics. How do you think the market will change, whether strategically or from a practice perspective, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic?
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