It’s been half a decade since Chartered Accountant and M&A expert Dan Saulter (pictured) found himself moving from Towergate Insurance to Davies Group to serve as the latter’s chief executive. Now he’s looking back at his milestones.
Insurance Business caught up with Saulter, who shares what led him to his current role and what he is determined to see in the near term. The CEO also talks about his interests, and how our readers could help out in case he pursues one of them.
What made you switch from an insurance company to a firm that caters to insurers?
Serendipity. I had just begun thinking about new challenges at the same time as Epiris (Davies private equity investor at the time) were looking to appoint a new CEO to lead their ambitious growth plans at Davies. The global insurance market, whether it be risk carriers, distribution, or (as in the case of Davies) in core operations and digital solutions, is all about leading people, and helping them to do a great job for their clients.
Do you think claims reforms will impact the business, and in what way if at all?
In our view, most of the focus of government in recent years, when it comes to claims, is about trying to achieve a balance between claimants’ rights to justice and ensuring fairness for insurance companies that pay claims, since spurious or fraudulent claims patently push up insurance costs for the public who pay the premiums.
In our claims solutions business we work for insurers, underwriters, brokers, and large organisations in processing, adjusting, and settling claims, and helping them to manage risk better. I think wider changes in technology and society are likely to have a long-term impact on claims volumes and on Davies’s core markets. The drive towards autonomous vehicles, the gig economy, next-generation telematics, and connected homes (and businesses) will all tilt the market in the years ahead. For Davies it means we must continue to invest in technology and continue to innovate if we are to remain relevant and valued by our clients.
As chief executive of Davies Group for five years now, what goals or priorities have you set for yourself and the company?
Like all other businesses, we have our annual financial goals, but what’s more important for us is to continue to deliver on our promises to our people. A big focus at Davies is on creating career opportunities through internal promotion and development. In the last year we were able to make more than 140 promotions across the group, and I am determined for this number to grow in the next year. We are convinced that in order to be successful in future, Davies must continue to invest in new and deepen our existing capability. The focus of our investment in technology internally, and in M&A externally, is to do exactly that – ensure we remain ahead of our peers and seek to do more each year for our clients.
Looking back, what would you consider as milestones in your capacity as CEO?
Reflecting on what Davies has achieved while I have been here, I think attracting new investment from our private equity partner, HGGC, which in early 2017 was a really important point in our journey. Not only did we secure a good result and exit for Epiris, who had backed us for five years, we began working with a new partner with huge ambition who are 100% supportive of our strategy to grow Davies and widen our footprint. I am firmly of the view that employee ownership of private enterprise helps drives success and growth. As part of the transaction with HGGC, we significantly deepened our ownership structure with the launch of our Davies Incentive Plan, meaning all colleagues in Davies can become shareholders after two years of service in the group.
If you were to leave insurance for another industry, which one and why?
I am a lover of alpine sports and particularly of the French and Swiss Alps. So I think I would become a travel writer reviewing alpine ski resorts in the winter, and mountain biking destinations in the summer. I might need some good insurance cover for such an endeavour, which I am sure your readers could assist with.
Name one thing your peers probably don't know about you.
As a child I was a very keen snooker player and may have spent more time at the snooker club than anywhere else. Through playing in tournaments I got to meet Steve Davis, as well as some of today’s younger snooker stars (who it turned out were miles better than me). I still enjoy a few frames to unwind from time-to-time. A few years ago I was lucky to find and acquire a 1930s antique snooker table that I have had restored, and which now takes pride of place at home.