RSA director on waking the "sleeping giant" of its profin business

Plans for further growth in 2024 are well underway

RSA director on waking the "sleeping giant" of its profin business

Professional Risks

By Mia Wallace

Once a “sleeping giant”, RSA’s professional indemnity and financial lines (profin) business has well and truly awoken to stretch out its arms to the market. That’s the word on the ground from brokers, according to RSA’s UK profin director Jo Darkins (pictured) who stepped into the newly created role in May 2021 and has supported the business through a period of significant restructuring.

“It was at the back end of 2020 that we at RSA decided to restructure the profin business, which previously had been aligned with our general insurance business lines,” she said. “We recognised its air of specialism and created a UK structure, which acknowledged that some investment in capability was required and defined a new sense of direction.”

RSA’s strategy for growth in its profin business

Over two decades into her career with RSA, Darkins has embraced the opportunity presented by the challenges facing the profin business as she looks to support its mid-market growth, delivering core KPIs and steering service delivery across the UK. As somebody who enjoys taking on a “project”, she said, being in a position to identify, isolate and troubleshoot the component parts of the wider challenge facing the profin business has been very rewarding.

Underpinning the external strategy championed by Darkins was an internal emphasis on getting the profin business in great shape before it reintroduced itself to the market.

“The biggest challenge for me initially, was the lack of people,” she said. “To service the demand , we needed somewhere in the region of 50 people and, at the time, we had 35 so our service was falling short of where it needed to be. So, my initial objective was to address the challenge of improving service externally.

“In the first year, we also did a lot of internal work to improve processes and get the business fit for purpose so that when we made the decision to go external with our new marketing campaign, we were able to reassure the market that we’d been away fixing some things and that now our service, our proposition – and the people that sit behind that – were stronger than ever before.”

Getting the right people in place to support future growth

Sourcing, attracting and retaining great profin talent came with its own challenges, Darkins said, particularly as that recruitment drive was happening at a time when other markets were trying to do similar things. However, she noted that RSA’s profin growth trajectory has proven an attractive one to ambitious individuals looking to be part of a success story. Now, the team stands at 56-strong, with plans for further growth in 2024 well underway.

It was a confident and well-appointed team which went to market to share its rejuvenated proposition with RSA’s broker partners during the insurer’s recent broker roadshows. The underlying objective of the tour was to return to market visibility and to reconnect with brokers post-COVID, she said, and it was a great opportunity to really engage with what’s on the minds of brokers when it comes to profin classes.

“Rather than go out and talk about our people and products and how amazing our proposition is, we embraced this as an opportunity to educate the market on the things they, as brokers, should be interested in from a Professional Indemnity & Financial Risks (D&O, Pension and Crime) perspective . We discussed the kind of topics and themes brokers should be thinking about when they’re talking to their clients and customers – whether that’s around the economic climate or responsible business  or legislation and regulation. We wanted it to be something that brokers could actually take away and use to enrich their conversations with clients and customers.”

Over the six roadshows, the team met with over 300 brokers, Darkins said, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, generating great and lasting engagement. Since then, RSA has seen an uptick in requests to go out and engage with its broker partners and talk in-depth about its products and proposition, across all the regions of the UK.

Revamping RSA’s products and proposition

Speaking of products and proposition, she said, the last year had been a busy one for the team which has seen no less than four proposition launches. The first was the refresh of its PI excess of loss coverage which previously was exclusively written out of its London Market business and has now expanded to the regions. The second was the return of RSA to the design and construct (D&C) professional indemnity product line with a redesigned proposition.

“Then more recently, we relaunched our pension trustee liability product, a business line which we pulled away from a few years ago,” she said. “We recognise that for a number of our brokers, and particularly our customers, the pension trustee liability piece goes hand in hand with other covers. And pulling away one actually wasn’t particularly helpful. But we’ve also refreshed our management liability proposition as well, soft launching a new wording last year with our brokers.”

Each of the four strategic initiatives delivered this year has resonated strongly with brokers, Darkins said, and there are a fair few additional revamps and relaunches planned for 2024. It has been great to get out there and talk to brokers, and to see how business has started to trickle in. Now, the team feel well prepared for this year and to continue ramping up its marketing drive to meet growing demand. There’s a strong sense internally that people feel more comfortable talking about RSA’s profin proposition as a complete offering.

What’s next for Darkins and the profin team?

As to what’s top of her agenda in 2024, Darkins shared that the team will be launching a new risk management tool in January, which is something that both existing and new customers will be able to benefit from. Additionally, it will be re-examining its international proposition for financial risks, she said, as RSA currently only writes UK-domiciled risks and wants to explore the opportunity to expand the international element of this proposition.

“We’re also refreshing our employment practice liability (EPL) product which we will also look to launch at some point in 2024,” she said. “And whereas last year we did our management liability protection  wording, this year we are refreshing our corporate D&O proposition as well. Then, from a PI perspective, we’re looking at a product for climate professionals which we’re currently doing a lot of research and development work on at the moment. So, there’s still lots more for us to do, but the mood internally is much more confident than it was two years ago which is just fantastic to see.”

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