Meet John Richards, SVP, Head of London Market Financial Institutions Insurance
What’s your back story?
After completing my MBA at Cardiff, I began my career working for a London stockbroker before joining the AIG graduate scheme and subsequently moving to Zurich and then Novae. When Novae exited the class of business, I felt Sompo International would provide an excellent platform to both retain the Novae business obtained through the renewal rights deal and build a well-diversified FI book. Thankfully, my instinct was proved correct and this year we expect the book to grow into one of the top ten in the London market by income, with a core focus on the UK, US, Canada and Australia and some exposure to Continental Europe through our hub in Barcelona.
Outside the work environment I would say my achievements are still evolving! Other than being a world record holder for taking part in the highest game of cricket ever played at Everest Base Camp, which unfortunately is now a distant memory, my interests also include golf and rugby. In particular, I follow Wales and coach my son’s mini’s team.
Tell us about your market
Many markets are cautious around Financial Institutions, but our view is that the sector has been transformed as part of the remediation work done post the 08/09 financial crash. Businesses have exited non-core lines, risk appetites have modified, compliance functions are well established, and the regulators are being very proactive, so compliance is much improved. However, challenges of course remain – not least caused by the uncertainty in the economy and environment that we are currently witnessing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Most concerning is the potential for increased levels of fraud and cybercrime, including ransomware in the more fluid working environment, and issues arising from significant loan growth related to government-backed loan schemes. So, whilst the financial institutions are in a much better place than they were prior to the financial crisis, uncertainty and risks unfortunately remain.
What’s your USP?
Our reputation is built on the fact that we are an experienced team with a solid appetite to grow our business and lead placements — which means we are dependable — even in the current environment. We also have a substantial balance sheet and local underwriting authority, that enables swift responses. Sompo International firmly set its sights on being a top ten player in the global market and the Financial Institutions team is certainly mirroring this.
I’m quietly hopeful the economy will bounce back quicker than the doom-mongers would have us believe and that financial institutions won’t suffer too badly as a consequence. Whatever the future holds, Sompo International is ready to support the sector as we move forward.