An inside look at the people powering the practice
Across the (re)insurance industry, consolidation and a focus on cost efficiency has sometimes resulted in outsourcing or a drive to commodify this important activity, which can in turn create a diminished end to end service.
One of Lockton Re’s key areas of differentiation is a holistic focus on giving clients the best service provided by empowered people and teams that are an integrated part of the account team. It felt like a good time to sit down for a conversation with two people at Lockton Re who are very focused on providing exceptional client service - Wes Pike, Client Service Leader, North America and Zoe Deeks, Head of Client Partnership Services, London North America - to get a better perspective on this issue.
Hi Wes and Zoe, thanks for chatting today. Why did you join Lockton Re, how does the culture compare with other places you have worked?
Zoe: I have always been extremely passionate about achieving the best possible outcomes for clients and I strongly believe that the servicing we provide is a differentiator to our clients. I was really excited about the opportunity to join Lockton Re because I felt they really understood my passion to bring servicing back to the level of importance it deserves. It isn’t just about winning the business, it is about delivering the all-round service and maintaining that year on year. It’s really important for the servicing team to have a voice at the table on behalf of our clients and markets, and Lockton Re understands that. Servicing has become a lower priority in many broking houses. We regularly hear that servicing teams are reducing in size or being outsourced and this is reflected in the level of service that is being provided. Interaction with placement teams that is vitally important has become diluted, personal accountability and relationships with clients has become lost. Lockton Re allows us to challenge what we can do better for our clients and deliver the best possible service. Our clients know who to come to because we are part of the whole team at Lockton Re.
Wes: I completely agree with Zoe, it’s so empowering to know that you are making a real difference to clients and that the support you provide is supporting both clients and Lockton Re. When you feel real pride in the work you do I think that shows in the standard of work and also in the enjoyment you get from creating great results. The opportunity to join Lockton Re was really intriguing, firstly because of the genuine client focus but also the opportunity to set something up in the right way and with the support from Lockton that means we are building for long term success not for short term quick wins. It’s exciting when colleagues are genuinely enthused about you suggesting a more effective process rather than having a ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ attitude. The culture at Lockton Re is a unique blend of start-up enthusiasm and energy with the amazing support of Lockton and colleague collaboration that I have never known before.
You both seem incredibly passionate about client service. Why is that?
Wes: Our role makes a real difference and impacts on the overall success of any account. I believe that what we do creates that reputational difference and so if you are not passionate about that it’s really not the job you should do. Servicing is often mistakenly seen as something that happens in the background away from the clients but I love building relationships with clients and those are long term relationships that I’ve had throughout my career. We are bringing that holistic focus to an account and working both with the brokers and with the client and other internal departments, our role is multifaceted and so key to overall success. I know we’ve won accounts due to the reputation of our servicing capability and that clearly demonstrates why the passion of me and Zoe and the entire client service team is key.
Zoe: It is so important to support our clients, winning the business is key, but retaining that and fulfilling the expectations of paying claims, adding value and resolving complex issues falls to us on the servicing team. The sense of achievement when you make a difference is what matters, and those are the kind of people we have attracted to the Lockton Re servicing teams.
Lockton Re talks about proactive-service - what does that mean?
Zoe: We fully engage with our clients and understand their processes, we work with the clients to educate them further into understanding how to achieve the smoothest service resulting in the best outcomes for them. We are a growing business and are able to offer a bespoke service to meet our clients’ and markets’ needs to achieve the outcome. We are always moving forward and striving to do things better and more efficiently.
Wes: We’re always trying to keep ahead of what’s happening, keeping the client informed of what’s coming next and making sure we can identify potential issues before they arise. It’s beneficial for all parties to be ahead of the calendar and to be able to have that more strategic view on an account. Our focus is on avoiding those questions and headaches that can create stress for clients. Many haven’t experienced this proactive management before and really appreciate the smoother and more effective process. In addition this means we can focus extra times on other areas of the account and provide additional support. Unsurprisingly at the heart of this proactive service is the strong relationships we build with them.
How do you think our claims process and servicing differs from other reinsurance brokers?
Zoe: Where I am based in London, we sit within our placement team, we are involved with the client from the moment the production team are invited to an RFP, we work with the placement team throughout the whole process. The embedded structure is a clear differentiator and sets us apart from our peers. Our team are continually being educated about our clients and their business, providing us with a greater understanding of the business we are servicing. The Lockton Re team are more than just a processing team, they understand the business and the clients’ bespoke requirements. We are also in the very fortunate position of being part of a global team for many of our clients, this I believe is completely unique to Lockton Re.
Wes: That model of embedding servicing with the placement team is the same across the globe, we are all focused on achieving what is best for the client and work collaboratively to do that. We understand the broader reinsurance landscape so we understand the structures and coverage, if you understand the whole picture you can make sure the area you are focused in is so much more productive and you can see the impact that has on the overall success.
How do you use technology to support servicing and claims while still maintaining a personalised approach?
Zoe: Technology is key to our business functionality but it certainly isn’t a replacement for relationships and should never be used as a mechanism to hide behind if there is lack of knowledge or understanding. I am an advocate of building and maintaining relationships with our markets. Servicing in the London market has changed so much since the introduction of systems such as ECF, there has been a dramatic downturn in personal interaction in the market, which has in turn stopped the natural flow of knowledge sharing and personal growth. We have to proactively promote our servicing teams to keep that process alive and therefore it is an expectation of the Lockton Re team that they aren’t just using technology to churn through claims, they are adding value. We have regular meetings with our markets to review management information, discuss processes, discuss performance generally and any other topical issues. 2020 has highlighted how important it has been that we have those relationships in place, we have built out the servicing teams in line with the growth of the business and onboarded new clients and throughout we have felt supported by our markets.
Wes: We can all recognise the importance of how technology can support our roles, and this has probably been more apparent in the last twelve months but as Zoe says we use technology to support what we do not to replace our expertise. We should never lose sight of the fact that skilled professionals will support more successful use of technology. At the heart of what we do is our role as client advocates and technology is key in so far as it can support and extend that role. It’s great that we can use systems to create efficiency but that should translate into more time to focus on building relationships and understanding, not into a diminished role for servicing. We are so much more than a process and it feels like our industry is now recognising that. Clients certainly are recognising it, and they appreciate the difference we can make.
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