Canadian Underwriter

Executive Outlook 2021: Shawn DeSantis, Navacord

December 18, 2020   by Adam Malik

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Shawn DeSantis, President, CEO, Navacord Corp.

The pandemic has reshaped our industry — and is still reshaping it — with rapid change and innovation. Going forward, brokers will need to adopt and adapt to these changes across our expertise, people, and technology.

No longer is a generalist broker with limited markets the right choice. The pandemic has stressed the importance of risk advisors with deep sector and product expertise who can function as an extension of the client’s business team. This market will not tolerate preventable losses; as brokers, it’s up to us to be the change we want to see. We need to educate clients and provide proactive risk mitigation strategies and solutions to truly add value.

Further, a shrinking talent pool and increasing risk complexity mean brokers must invest continuously and aggressively in their specializations, thought-leadership, and in the training and development of their teams, to ensure they remain the top choice for today’s clients. Internally, we talk about a “flight to quality” occurring. To compete, brokers will have to provide a broad range of tools and resources to their advisors and clients alike, including access to legal advice, loss control, superior claims advocacy, actuarial, and modelling support. Clients are rightfully demanding more.

Operationally, brokers took for granted the communication and collaboration that occurred with clients in person, and the trust that was naturally built within a traditional office setting. Now the modern office is anywhere, and we must invest in leading technology and IT supports so that employees are on when they are online.

With the hard market and demand for precision from insurers across most commercial lines, broker workloads are increasing significantly. Insurers and underwriters are getting far too comfortable saying, “No, can’t be done.” Thus, having the operational expertise to deal with this environment is one of the biggest challenges. The opportunity now is to move beyond the “no.” Brokers are using our experience to create risk solutions that work for everyone involved and drive businesses — ours, insurers’, and our clients’ — forward together.

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