David Harris, Argo International

David Harris

Leveraging Platforms

Editors’ Note

David Harris joined Argo Group in 2013 to lead the Group’s Syndicate at Lloyd’s of London. Prior to this, Harris spent several years at Amlin where he held various roles including Managing Director, Amlin Underwriting Limited, International Development Director, and Chief Operating Officer, Amlin PLC. Harris began his insurance career with Royal Insurance and later became Operations Director for RSA London Market division before joining AXA Insurance in 2000 as U.K. Claims Director. He previously served as a non-executive Director of the Lloyd’s Market Association and was Chairman of the Examiners Committee, and a member of the Council of the Chartered Insurance Institute. Harris holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB Honours) from Nottingham University and holds the Chartered Insurer (FCII) designation from the Chartered Insurance Institute.

What brought you to the decision to join Argo?

I felt that Argo was at a unique stage of its evolution as an international company. We had all of the essential platforms in place across the organization and I felt there was an opportunity to leverage the syndicate within that global positioning to do something most other syndicates at Lloyd’s haven’t managed correctly in the past.

We’ve made great progress over the past year, strengthening our position in the Lloyd’s market – adding to our underwriting talent and expanding our product offerings. We’re in a position where we can grow profitably given the talent we have throughout the organization.

What are the key ingredients to getting it right and how will Argo achieve that?

It will be to a large extent around communication and clarity of strategy between our underwriting platforms to deliver service and underwriting expertise locally and globally.

As an example, the syndicate might have a specific appetite in particular categories of risk and zones, which our U.S. colleagues might not have. However, we can leverage the distribution capability and access through our offices in the U.S. and then use the subscription market, where Lloyd’s excels, to take risk on that risk.

In such a competitive market, how challenging is it to differentiate in this space?

Service capability is table stakes now. To be able to deliver in this marketplace in the current environment, we have to give top service first, be it in claims, wording competence, credit control, modeling – whatever element it is. We always have to provide consistent excellent service. This, in and of itself, won’t be sufficient to attract customers and brokers to use us as an insurer, but if you don’t have competence across all of those pieces, you aren’t at the table.

We tend to do a larger percentage than is typical with medium-size brokers rather than the biggest broking houses. We put a lot of emphasis on building relationships, and establishing a mutual level of trust and understanding of each other’s business objectives. So reputation and relationships are key. After that, it’s around our ability to assess, innovate, and understand the risk exposures, and find suitable solutions.