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May 10, 2019

Alfredo Alonso

London-based chief underwriting officer for Europe, Middle East and Asia, ArgoGlobal

London-based group casualty director, RSA Insurance Group PLC

The outlook for the industry is strong. It’s been around for more than 300 years since those first pioneers frequented Lloyd’s coffee house, and I don’t believe it’s in danger of disappearing. But changes are coming, related to factors such as insurtech, alternative capital, and, crucially, new, disruptive players. They may not have entered our sector en masse, but they have made their first tentative ventures into insurance. What does this mean for us? We have to adapt our business models to compete, and make strategic investments in systems, data and people we hire to be ready for this next frontier in insurance.

My main focus is to help build a profitable business with a strong international platform, and a particular emphasis on Europe and Asia.

One challenge is maintaining profitability through good underwriting in the face of low GDP growth and investment returns in recent years. Another – possibly greater – challenge is remaining relevant in the face of third-party capital and new players. To survive, companies need to ask themselves: what do we need to do differently, and to stay relevant how can we add insight and value for our customers? Our customer profile is changing, too. Intangibles, like intellectual property rights and reputational risk, are increasing in relevance. We must adapt to these changing concerns and provide solutions. Understanding the impact of technology and data is another hurdle for our industry. We need to efficiently and effectively use new data pools for improved pricing and for better risk selection.

I started as a claims handler in Switzerland, but I quickly realized I had a lot to offer as an underwriter.

Work on building your subject-matter expertise. More important, build upon your ability to connect with and understand people. If you aren’t able to do that, then you won’t be the best at what you do.

I love mountains and being outside. If there were no insurance, I would have been a ski instructor.

I have an executive MBA from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and Vlerick Leuven in Belgium.

I am enthusiastic about the combination of being responsible for influencing and implementing a strategy, and then seeing if it works in reality when you engage with the customers and brokers. Normally you’re on one side of the process or the other. Being involved throughout is really exciting to me.

Definitely pasta!

“The Culture Map,” by Erin Meyer. It offers great insights when you are exposed to many different cultures and people.

Cycling, drinking good wine and eating. I know they seem contradictory, but if you do enough of the first, you can really indulge in the rest.