A recent addition to the Sompo International U.S. Insurance team, new EVP and Head of Financial Institutions & Commercial Management Liability, Ray Santiago, observed that “while the U.S. market is familiar with Sompo International’s offering and its people, most don’t understand the size and scope of Sompo International’s platform.” Here are his thoughts on his role, plans for the future at Sompo International and how the company is positioned to respond to client needs in today’s ever-changing market environment.
What brought you to Sompo International?
Sompo International’s strong market reputation and the opportunity to join a growing organization were major factors in my decision to come on board, but it was really the quality of the people that attracted me to the organization. This group is highly competent, collaborative and focused on building a respected operating platform. Those attributes along with the opportunity to be part of the leadership team was something I wanted to be a part of.
The firm’s core values rooted in honesty, integrity, decisiveness, mutual respect, teamwork and accountability are the same standards that I have tried to hold myself to over the course of my career. Sompo International is an excellent fit for me because it shares those values. It’s a great environment with an entrepreneurial spirit and a collaborative community who work well together. We’re continuing to build out a team of people who place importance on this type of culture.
What do you wish people knew about the company?
We are global company with insurance and reinsurance operations worldwide. Our U.S. Insurance platform has grown 62% over the past 3 years and is now a nearly $2B operation. Globally, we underwrite about $1B across our Financial Lines platform. In the U.S. Financial Lines space, we are currently a top 10 market with aspirations of becoming a top 5 market in the near future.
What is your view of the FI/CML market right now?
Our market continues to face strong headwinds as SCA filings remain at a high level driven by an uptick in standard cases. M&A related filings while down 15% from 2018, are still at historically high levels, and Plaintiff Bar is as active as ever. Market volatility should continue to remain elevated given the emergence of event-driven litigation and the impact social inflation has on jury awards and settlements. These are just a few examples of the current landscape that underscore the need for adequate pricing and policy terms to ensure portfolio sustainability for the future. Despite these challenges, we view this as an opportunity to rely on our underwriting acumen to solve problems and provide solutions to our clients and brokers.
What is your vision for the future of Sompo International’s FI/CML team?
Our forward view is an aspirational goal of becoming a top 5 market in the U.S. Achieving that goal will require a number of things over the next few years but based on today’s market environment we expect to: (1) continue growing both the CML and FI portfolios; (2) attract talented people to Sompo International to support that growth; (3) expand our geographic footprint; and (4) innovate. While our focus will always be prioritizing profitability, we believe building a strong underwriting culture coupled with the appropriate scale will allow us the flexibility to deploy capital on both a primary and excess basis in a more relevant way. This is a very exciting time to be at Sompo International. We have come a long way in a short period of time and are very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.