The Year Ahead with Robert Kelly, Steadfast

The Year Ahead with Robert Kelly, Steadfast | Insurance Business

The Year Ahead with Robert Kelly, Steadfast
A 2016 highlight for Robert Kelly, he said, was major insurers “now starting to recognise that running a combined ratio in excess of 100% is not the way to run an insurance company”.

“I think that rationalisation is overdue,” the Steadfast managing director and CEO told Insurance Business.

“I think it should’ve come a year ago, but I’m grateful that it’s come now. We, as distribution, always want to have sustainable insurers behind us and we want to see price movements that are small, rather than kneejerk reactions at large when balance sheets get eroded by years of poor underwriting.”

Kelly said a highlight for Steadfast in 2017 will be the continuing rollout of its IT platforms, INSIGHT and UnderwriterCentral - the culmination of a decade’s work. He also looks forward to continuing Steadfast’s strategic relationships both in Australia and in London.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the London market, in terms of rationalising our placements in that area, and also the fulfilment of some of our dreams within the Asian network that we have established,” he said. “Next year’s going to be a good year for us.”

Discussing challenges, Kelly added: “The challenges for the industry are always to inform the regulators about issues that occur … and to work with the regulators to ensure that there is no kneejerk reaction, but absolute engagement and rectification programs put in place to fix any issues that are seen to impact the public.

“Although [ASIC is] technically the policemen of what we do, they’re also rational about how you fix. I must say that, in my view, they are very cooperative in terms of how it can be rectified and accommodating to have discussions about the rectification process. I think that’s a huge thing to have – a ‘regulated by legislation’ industry that you participate in, and a regulator who will work with you when issues arise.”

Kelly said it will be interesting to keep an eye on Suncorp, IAG and QBE over the next year as they work towards how they can interact with and enhance distribution, in terms of their technical operating structures.

“I think that some of the work that’s being done by Peter Harmer will be interesting to see when it reaches fruition,” he said.

Kelly also mentioned Pat Regan’s recent appointment as interim CEO of QBE’s Australian and New Zealand operations.

“He has the skills and the ability to move change quickly”, he suggested.

“And I think the way Suncorp has split its divisions and Michael Cameron’s view of how Suncorp should be involved with the market is yet to be proved, but it’s quite revolutionary.

“So, from my point of view, to watch those three people and how they manage the changes within their businesses and how they decide distribution should be treated is a work in progress and something I watch with great interest.”

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