We caught up with Guy to find out about his role in London, career, and the future of British Marine
What is your current job title and how would you describe your role?
My job title is Portfolio Manager for British Marine P&I. I manage our global P&I operation from London, including our office in Singapore. We write commercial fixed premium products for owners of small, medium-sized and specialist vessels.
We have a diverse portfolio managed by a team of experts both in underwriting and claims experience and we underwrite anything from tugs and barges to luxury yachts and specialist craft serving the sustainable energies sector.
What would you like to achieve in your next 5 years?
The objective for us at British Marine is growth, alongside a continued focus on profitability. As with any insurance product, we want to expand our portfolio – opportunities exist out there for us, but we need to make the right decisions on how we move forward with those.
We’re looking to create a more globalised product within P&I for British Marine, and we’ve already rebranded in Singapore to further this goal. As we expand operations and extend our global reach, we may look to do this elsewhere.
How do you expect the industry to change in coming years and what’s coming up for British Marine?
I expect that we will adapt to support vessels powered by more sustainable energy sources and those vessels engaged in the energy transition, particularly in the construction and maintenance of wind farms and sustainable energy facilities.
We are also seeking to grow our Yachts and Specialist Offshore P&I portfolios. This is all about broker relationships and I want British Marine to be on the broker’s speed dial – one of the first companies they think of to take the opportunity to. This requires us to constantly strive to increase the service levels and out-perform our rivals in the sector. The yacht portfolio for us is an important one – we’re actively looking to expand, engaged in attending trade shows, and committed to increasing our visibility.
The offshore business is another sector we specialise in and often requires extended coverages, tailored to the needs of the client and specific to the contracts they are engaged on. This requires specialist knowledge and understanding of the complexities the contracts impose on our clients.
The next generation in British Marine will also benefit from being back in the office. We have a good balance of experienced team members and those in the earlier years of their careers, and we’ll be looking to help those young people establish themselves and build up key relationships. It’s being in the office, around the transactions, negotiations, and brokers, that teaches people.
What has been your favourite project at QBE – what are you most proud of?
The rebrand of our QBE Asia P&I business to British Marine has been a highlight. Given the similarities of the propositions, we felt it appropriate to leverage the longstanding strength, expertise, heritage, and strong relationships British Marine is well renowned for across the world. The change reinforces our unified approach as a team and the British Marine network will help us reach customers across the region.
Has the British Marine ethos changed over your time at the company?
Coming out of Covid, people started coming back into the office and we’ve seen everyone feeling reinvigorated and enthusiastic to be doing business in person again, where possible. There’s a renewed energy in the team, and as my short time with the company has been post-pandemic, this is the transition I’ve been here for.
Travel and face-to-face business are both central to my role and this has also opened up a lot more in the last 18 months. Marine is a very personable business in terms of the trade, and the P&I market tries to maintain very personal relationships in the way our business is done. The relationships we build in the sector are key to success, so to see the return to face-to-face business in the team has been positive.
What gets you out of bed in the morning and into work?
I enjoy working face-to-face with people – both colleagues within the British Marine and QBE organisation and the customers and brokers we deal with in the wider market. Marine is a relatively small sector of the insurance industry, but there exists a close network of people across the globe who specialise in Marine and specifically P&I.
I find travelling to meet with brokers and customers rewarding because I always learn something new about our customers’ businesses, I enjoy finding unique solutions and building on those relationships.
How did you start out in marine insurance and when did you first learn about QBE?
I’ve been involved in the Marine insurance market since 1985. I started my career working for a major Lloyd’s syndicate before starting to specialise in P&I in 1990 whilst working for the West of England Club on their fixed premium product in the nineties.
In 1991 I established Osprey Underwriting agency as an MGA focussed on Commercial Fixed Premium business, underwriting on behalf of the London market. The business was sold to Thomas Miller Specialty in 2016, and in 2020 I was consulting for a broking firm Atlantic Insurance Brokers (specialist Marine brokers focussed on LATAM business) assisting them in setting up a retail office in the US.
Working within the P&I market I have always been aware of British Marine as a business, and I was contacted by Grant Smith at QBE pre-Covid, who wanted to know if I might be interested in joining the team. The conversation was paused during the pandemic, but resumed shortly after and I joined in September 2021.
What advice would you give a school leaver?
The industry has changed since I first started out; we didn’t have computers! However, the principles are the same; get your head down, learn, be enthusiastic, and hopefully those interested in insurance will be encouraged to engage with all the training and education that is available. To advance your career in insurance, professional qualifications in the industry are now a must. In Marine, the most important skills are knowledge and networking – get to know the business, the people, and be willing to be available for opportunities. English is the recognised international language for business but conversing with people in their native language is always received well, so if you get the chance, study a second language.