Julian James became Sompo Internatioal’s CEO of International Insurance just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He discusses the challenges of a new role amidst remote working, and our ambitions for the business and its clients in a rapidly changing world.
Having spent several years out of the insurance market, I was delighted to join the Sompo International team in February to help build out its international business. With a $24 bn balance sheet and an A+ rating, the group has a tremendous amount to offer insureds and, as with any new job, it was going to be a great challenge to get to know both my colleagues and our business partners and clients. Little did I (or anyone else) know then just how challenging that was going to be.
The tragedy of the global COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous change. I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues for their warm welcome in such difficult times, and for their flexibility at adapting swiftly and efficiently to remote working. For everyone, the way we work has probably changed forever, but what has not changed is the job that we are here to do.
For everyone at Sompo International, that remains ensuring that we are fully operational and providing the best service to our business partners and clients to address their business needs. Those needs are always changing but never more so than now, and it is vital that we have our customers right in the centre of our thinking. A whole new landscape of risks has opened up for businesses, some new, others just much greater than they were before.
To think of just a few: getting airlines back in the sky, the risks of mothballed facilities, enabling a safe return to work for employees, disrupted supply chains or the need to build new ones from scratch, legal actions and decimated demand. Different industries will face their own risk horizons and there can be no “one size fits all” answer to understanding the issues and finding solutions.
This makes the recent launch of Sompo Global Risk Solutions (GRS) here in Europe especially timely. Businesses need comprehensive risk management services and multi-line capabilities more than ever before. As we return to the “new normal” I am very much looking forward to hearing more from our clients about the issues they face and how Sompo International can help.