Victor CEO Charles Williamson on his plans for the business

CEO on Steve Jobs, enabling people, and considered investment

Victor CEO Charles Williamson on his plans for the business

Insurance News

By David Saric

Charles Williamson, Victor Insurance Managers CEO, sat down with Insurance Business to speak about how his diversified career trajectory set him up for his role with the MGA and how he intends to lead the business into new opportunities.

Now Victor Insurance Managers (Victor) CEO, Charles Williamson (pictured) started in the insurance industry in 1988 and has held a variety of senior leadership positions, including at big name insurers and what was at the time a brand-new business.

The CEO has credited being able to wear various hats at different organizations — including AIG and Crystal & Company — for diversifying his skillset and shaping him into the leader he is today.

“During my 25-year career at AIG, I had a variety of assignments, starting out in large account casualty, then migrating into sales and marketing before ultimately moving to personal lines and consumer lines,” Williamson said.

His last job at AIG was running the consumer business for the Americas, which included extended warranty accident held personal lines, amounting to an eclectic mix of underwriting experiences.

Williamson then departed AIG to become a retail broker, spending almost four years with Crystal & Company to understand the distribution side of the business much more closely. Following this valuable experience, his next move was to create something entirely new.

“I also co-founded a company called Vault, which was a personal lines insurance specialist, catering to high-net-worth customers — I was founder and CEO there for six years,” he said.

When the opportunity to assume the role of CEO at Victor Insurance Managers emerged, Williamson saw a chance to meld together his learnings to build on a thriving business.

“I’ve built a background around distribution on the one hand and underwriting on the other. The opportunity and Victor melded those disciplines together, and that just felt right for me,” he said.

Victor’s independence, with backing from parent Marsh McLennan, was also a draw.

“The autonomy to do my own thing and build a business, based on the strategy that I laid out was exciting,” he said.

“It was a really good mix of an independent company within a big organization.”

Having assumed the role of CEO on July 31, Williamson drew inspiration from former Apple CEO Steve Jobs when he started in the role.

“I thought about a quote that Steve Jobs once said, where effective leaders don’t hire great people and tell them what to do, but instead, they hire great people, and they tell us what to do,” he said.

“I prefer to be an enabler of really good people, as opposed to facilitating every single decision or idea. It’s about enabling people to do and be their best.”

Refining the focus

One of the main priorities of Williamson’s leadership is to focus on the areas that are performing well and show great potential.

“We’re looking at adjacencies and how we could spin up an additional business fairly easily with the expertise, systems, capabilities and capital partners that we have.”

Technology is a key area of focus for Victor too, and Williamson said he is a proponent of taking a considered approach to investment.

“It takes management time and attention to build the specs to test custom tech and validate it, which means they can’t focus our attention on other matters,” he said. “I’m challenging us to make sure everything we spend our time and money on is absolutely the most impactful and that saying ‘no’ to something is OK.”

“There’s a lot of whitespace”

As one of the oldest MGAs in America and the largest in the world, Victor has developed key offerings including its flagship specialty programs business, the country’s largest stand-alone flood MGA, ICAT which specializes in property catastrophe, as well as its digital MGA, Victor Small Business.

Altogether, the company handles around $4 billion in premium annually.

Williamson is excited to expand beyond Victor’s current offerings and create new opportunities for clients, he told Insurance Business.

“Even as big as Victor is and as comprehensive as our offerings are, there’s a lot of whitespace, which is really exciting for us,” he said “We’re not really in healthcare, we’re also not in construction or real estate in a big way.

“[There’s also] hospitality, transportation, energy, the things that are kind of classic MGA classes of business.”

The company will focus on growing its professional roster, with attracting the right talent set to be crucial for forward momentum.

“We are actively looking at a variety of acquisition opportunities”

Alongside more organic areas of expansion, Victor is also banking on its acquisitive appetite.

“We are actively looking at a variety of acquisition opportunities,” Williamson said.

While there are none that have met their criteria yet, the CEO stressed that behind the scenes, the search continues and they hope to find a good fit.

“We’re back in that game, looking for those acquisition opportunities that make us a better buy in terms of product underwriting expertise, systems, platform distribution,” he said.

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