Global Reinsurance spoke to Andrew Woodward to find out his ambitions for Lloyd’s in the Middle East, and how it can help the region’s insurance market thrive

Why did you decide to take on this new position, and what does it mean to you to be taking on the role?

I’ve lived and worked in the region in a variety of technical, business development and management roles for 25 years across four different countries, so you might say that the region is in my DNA. The opportunity to make use of all that experience in a regional role for a brand and institution as globally renowned as Lloyd’s was something I couldn’t say no to. 

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities facing you and Lloyd’s in the Middle East?

Of course we have the immediate and unique challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, but even prior to this, and indeed after we return to, perhaps a slightly different trading environment, the Middle East was and will remain an intensely competitive market.

Lloyd’s has played an integral role in the growth of the regional market, which is less than 50 years old and there is a real opportunity to build local capacity in the market. Lloyd’s is such a powerful, trusted brand, and, as the market grows, my priority is to translate that brand strength into further profitable revenue.

What do you think the future holds in store for Lloyd’s in the region?

The growth prospects here are really exciting. The Lloyd’s market currently writes around USD750m of Middle Eastern premium. Governments around the region are keen to diversify away from traditional reliance on oil and gas and there is a rapidly growing, young, and well-educated population.

But I think we have plenty to do in terms of raising the awareness of what insurance and what Lloyd’s can do to support businesses and communities in the region.

These are all factors that are going to create exciting opportunities for growth in the insurance and reinsurance markets in both traditional and emerging lines. Our expertise in and commitment to the region positions Lloyd’s well, and with our reputation for innovation we are well-placed to support that growth.

Do you have any plans or targets for your new role?

I can’t talk about the specifics of the business plans we have, but I would say that they are ambitious and reflect the long-term commitment that Lloyd’s has to the region.

How do you see the Middle East market and the London Market working together?

We have the global expertise and resources of Lloyd’s, deep local understanding of the region, and the embedded trust and loyalty of our customers. These factors combined create not just a vibrant environment for business growth, but also opportunities for cooperation in other areas such as regulatory development and knowledge sharing.

We are also partnering with the DIFC and the Chartered Insurance Institute here in Dubai, together with Lloyd’s own Global Development Centre, to support the regional insurance community to develop their insurance skills and knowledge, so will be announcing more on that later in the year.

What most excites you about this new position?

It is completely different from anything I’ve done before, but equally I can bring all the vast experience that I do have to the role.

How big of a role do you think insurtech will play in the development of the insurance market in the region?

The role that insurtech has to play in evolving the insurance market is massive. The issue for CEOs of insurers, brokers, and reinsurers is not if insurtech will affect the business, but how, given that no one has unlimited resources, you prioritise its implementation.

Customers, whether individual or corporate, are not willing to pay extra to support outdated costly processes, and nor should they. But equally they want the same services to be provided digitally and better.

Lloyd’s has embarked on an ambitious programme of transformation through The Future at Lloyd’s to ensure that we are the most customer-centric market in the world, fully embracing technology and, most importantly, giving more value back to our policyholders.

For example, digital risk exchanges for simple risks and complex risks are being developed and the region has already shown interest in opportunities such as Syndicate in a Box to help stimulate new product development, so these are positive indications that we are making the progress we need.

Lloyd’s hosts an annual Dive in Festival in Dubai. How important are events such as this, as well as other initiatives aimed at diversity and inclusion and mental wellbeing, both for employees at Lloyd’s and the wider insurance market?

Lloyd’s has been hosting Dive in events in Dubai every year since 2017, in 2018 and 2019, in addition to Dubai, we hosted events in KSA and also in 2019, we hosted an event in Bahrain as well. Topics have ranged from mental health in the workplace, addressing unconscious biases and coaching conversations.

I think the rapid growth in the number of speakers, attendees and countries in which Dive In has taken place since its origin in 2015 tells its own story. These are events that are not just about “doing the right thing”, they are having a tangible impact in the way that these vital issues are being viewed and managed.

The industry needs to attract the brightest and best and we will only do so if we are espousing the right values as well as offering competitive traditional benefits.