A connecting thread between so many of those who are part of the maritime industry is their passion for the sector and their admiration of those who work within its bounds. The powerful draw of a life at sea is something continually reiterated by experienced maritime professionals, and, speaking with Insurance Business, Dominic Wright (pictured), a client relationship manager at Saxon Insurance Brokers highlighted his enthusiasm for this ever-changing industry.
“It sounds so cliché, but, without a doubt, the best aspect of my role is the people I work with. This morning, I have been on the phone to our team in our Surrey office, a yacht manager in Malta, a captain in Palma and a first officer in Cannes,” he said. “Not many insurance brokers out there know the intricacies and problems that yacht management, captains and crew face on a daily basis, so, I love hearing what people are up to and it makes my role a lot more enjoyable.”
An experienced maritime professional himself, Wright first became involved with the insurance industry almost by accident. Initially a seafarer, and having operated as a first mate aboard superyachts across the Mediterranean for several years, he first met Sam Cise, the director of Saxon, while working for a yacht brokerage in Monaco. Though not initially successful in negotiating his way into listing one of Cise’s clients’ yachts, a few months later he received a job offer from the brokerage and so kick-started the next phase of his career.
“The maritime industry is just one of those things that if people know, they know,” he said. “It’s a tricky thing to try and explain because working at sea is not a job. It takes over your life; in the same breath, it also gives you a life nobody else can experience. The sound of a bow thruster shaking your cabin at 3am means you need to jump out of bed and man the fenders.
“Waiting on a grubby commercial ship until the crew get round to launching your yacht at 10pm is just ‘one of those things’. There is no timetable and that is something I have taken on into my career and something I’m quite proud of. If a job needs doing or a client needs a response, they get it. A Monday to Friday approach just doesn’t work in the maritime industry.”
This approach has served Wright particularly well during the COVID-19 pandemic which he believes has significantly highlighted the value of powerful customer relationships in insurance broking. The skill of a sailor is to leave nothing to chance and this is the attitude which is needed through every aspect of working in the maritime sector. Whatever the change to the schedule of a client, whether it’s course alterations, visiting another country or taking another crew member on board, the broker has to know.
“It has been a bizarre time that’s for sure,” he said, “and we have been very lucky to roll smoothly with the restrictions. Our team are used to working remotely when meeting clients around the world. Fortunately, I have an office at home and a VPN which ensures all of our client data and communications are kept secure.
“Naturally, I haven’t been flying or visiting clients, but everyone is in the same boat and our approach has been a diligent one. My role has certainly pivoted but it’s still ultimately a similar sort of thing. It’s still about keeping in touch with our clients and making sure they have everything they need to cruise confidently and securely… It’s amazing how much things change throughout the course of just a few months! A simple phone call goes a very long way and is always gratefully received, plus, it’s nice to stay in touch.”
There is a great deal to recommend working in the maritime sector, Wright said, and he relishes the structure of the strict, diligent schedules which must be adhered to. Whether it’s from a compliance and safety aspect with ISM schedules being met at set intervals for the crew or the more glamourous aspect of working with some of the finest assets in the world, no two days are ever the same. Something that particularly stands out is the travel element of the role which allows those working in the industry to visit and live in some really off the beaten track places.
“I spent eight months living in Montenegro whilst working aboard,” he said. “I took 36 flights last year to meet clients and colleagues and have made friends in all different walks of life. There aren’t many industries that provide that opportunity and it is something I would recommend to anyone looking for a new career.”