Canadian Underwriter

Executive Outlook 2021: Barry Lorenzetti, BFL Canada

December 22, 2020   by Adam Malik

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Barry F. Lorenzetti, President, CEO, BFL Canada

COVID-19 has been a massive disruptor in every aspect of our lives and we continue to work through and endure a very tough insurance market.

Tech is king, with brokers moving towards a work-from-home protocol for certain categories of employees. Going forward, brokers who do not embrace available technology will be left behind: Clients are seeking more efficient ways to manage their risk management needs, in combination with accessing deeper and more relevant data analytics. Brokers need to be open to operational changes; they need to embrace new ideas for how to engage with their clients. Greater sophistication is needed on how they prevent risks.

Post-COVID, I see a flexible mix of in-office/remote work. This will be coupled with innovative and efficient brokerage technology that is integrated with insurer technology. This will help brokers grow their books of business effectively while monitoring off-site employees and managing their performance. The core business will remain unchanged, but there will be an increased need to focus on collaborating and communicating effectively both inside and outside the firm.

We all know the market was hardening pre-COVID. The pandemic now provides underwriters with additional reasons to be selective in the risks they chose to write. Two years ago, completing placements was not problematic. However, shrinking capacity compounded by COVID has made placements even more difficult and challenging. Direct access to reinsurance markets has assisted our firm greatly.

Challenges will be numerous. Losing sight of the importance of personal relationships and physical interaction is one of them. Teamwork wins and this is even more relevant today.

In terms of opportunities, brokers armed with strong market accessibility will do well, particularly against smaller regional brokers. Those with the technical resources to win accounts that are currently being underserved by the global brokers will fare well. There are always opportunities if you have market access (both domestic and abroad) and strong relationships.

Firms that transition well and have the ability to seamlessly integrate acquisitions and new recruits will continue to be successful.

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