2 min read April 2022 — Amwins Group is the largest independent wholesale distributor of specialty insurance products in the United States, dedicated to serving retail insurance brokers by providing property and casualty products, specialty group benefit products, and administrative services. In an interview with Invest:, CEO Scott Purviance discussed the challenges and opportunities the company is facing, legislations to look out for, retaining talent, the impact of current geopolitical trends and the outlook for the company.
What are some challenges and opportunities Amwins is facing?
The pandemic itself didn’t change a lot of market demand as insurance is a cyclical industry where prices are driven up and down based on supply and demand. When the pandemic began, we were in an upswing, which is what the industry refers to as a hard market. Capacity was constrained and pricing of insurance was increasing, as was the demand for our services. We had that tailwind ongoing during the pandemic and fortunately our sales organization transitioned into the virtual environment seamlessly. We are not selling products, we are selling expertise and specialization. It is an intangible product. We conduct business across all industries and certain healthcare, construction and multifamily, specifically from a property insurance perspective. From an insurance perspective, those businesses are a tough place to be, based on related laws, but there are also growing sectors in the economy and we are seeing a lot of opportunities within the industries we work with.
At the same time, Charlotte’s growth has been incredible. It is a terrific city for young professionals. We are bullish on the city because it offers so much to attract and retain employees. We have several of our businesses here from a sales perspective but being the corporate headquarters, we require functional talent in legal, finance, HR, marketing and technology. Charlotte has a terrific talent pool to leverage.
Are you keeping an eye on any regulation or legislation at a local or national level that might impact your services or clients?
Insurance is interesting because there is no national legislation, it is regulated by each state, so we have different regulatory environments and pressures depending on the state in which we operate. For example, Florida is a state where we are seeing a number of challenges, especially in the personal lines space. There is a lot of focus on influencing legislators to make some changes to the regulatory environment and help attract more capital into the state. However, from a national perspective, there are no major regulatory pressures on our industry today. The two areas where the federal government is involved are flood insurance and terrorism, which have been extended, so those lines of business are stable.
How is technology impacting the insurance industry?
Amwins has believed in the power of technology from day one. During the past 20 years, we have made investments to have a proprietary home-grown technology platform and we continue to grow and invest in it. We are trying to use technology as a tool for our internal salespeople, providing them with all the intellectual capital at their fingertips.
Additionally, we conduct business with over 20,000 firms across the county as part of our retail broker business. We provide them online access to our platform so they can solve problems efficiently. They can get a fast solution and gain efficiency while servicing their clients. Lastly, we are using technology to make the best underwriting decisions by pulling third-party data automatically so our people can make the best decisions.
What strategies have you used to maintain and recruit talent in the current market?
We view culture as one of our biggest differentiators; we focus on people first. When the pandemic began in the United States, our first instinct was to let all our employees know their jobs were safe. We didn’t know how it was going to play out, but we knew we had the financial stability to survive the impact on our business. We were lucky that there wasn’t much of an impact, but putting people first matters. Another factor is that we’ve been very meaningful about our broad-based employee ownership. Our employees own 45% of the firm, so just under 1,200 of our employees are owners of Amwins. That is key in our ability to attract or retain people.
How have recent geopolitical events impacted the insurance industry?
We have a large presence in London and the Lloyd’s marketplace. We used to have a small number of contracts in Russia, but we terminated them and are no longer conducting business with them. Still, as a market, the political risk segment will have some significant losses absorbed by the global insurance market. Several things are impacting the insurance landscape as a result of the conflict.
What is your outlook for Amwins and what are some of your most immediate priorities?
I’m highly optimistic about our current position. While external factors such as geopolitical events, inflation and rising interest rates will impact business as a whole, I believe Amwins is well-positioned to pivot and absorb those impacts. I’m bullish on where we are; insurance is a non-discretionary expense and serves as critical fuel for driving growth. It is an integral part of the capitalist economy, even if it is sometimes overlooked.
Our priorities are twofold. We invest in people and technology. We remain focused on our broad-based strategy, with adjustments typically limited to nuances in how we focus on those things over time. From a people standpoint, we pursue an intentional effort to recruit younger staff members and implement meaningful training programs that will help those employees build long-term career paths inside Amwins. On the technology side, it is all about maximizing the use of data. We’ve captured a significant amount of data and the analysis of that data has helped us become more effective. We see the benefits of these efforts in our results – we placed more than $26 billion of premium volume across the firm last year, and have more than one million policies in place.
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