In the 28 years he has served with Sedgwick, Mark Gilbert has seen the business through many of the changes that have marked its evolution from a regional claims administrator founded in 1969 to a global insurance services provider with over 30,000 colleagues across 80 countries.
In progressing alongside the business, Gilbert has had the opportunity to see it from all angles – as a loss adjuster, a branch manager, a regional director and a division head before he stepped into the more client-facing side of the business in 2012. It’s always interesting when looking back to see what has and hasn’t changed, he said, and what’s been eye-opening for him is that in all its various guises in terms of ownership or branding, Sedgwick’s fundamental ethos remains the same.
“At its core Sedgwick is all about giving a great service at reasonable pricing while taking care of people – people being our colleagues, clients and the customers of our clients,” he said. “And for us, it’s really about living that strapline, because it’s easy to say that you put people at the heart of everything you do and harder to make it a reality.
“What’s been so impressive to see is how Sedgwick has committed to living out that ethos while growing into the biggest claims management and loss adjusting business in the UK. We’ve got far more people to take care of now, far more clients to support and I believe that a large part of that growth is because of our commitment to listening to clients and anticipating what’s next for them, as well as delivering what’s right for them today.”
Looking at what’s changed and changing the market, Gilbert noted that critical to Sedgwick’s ongoing success has been its ability to pivot and change direction as and where necessary. That occurs on an internal level, he said, as mirrored by the firm’s commitment to having its team reflect its increasingly diverse client profile. But it’s also an external drive, as Sedgwick looks to champion the power of collaboration in creating a holistic overview of clients’ risk environments.
Those more recent to the industry may not be able to fully appreciate the significance of underwriters, claims professionals, risk managers and brokers actively speaking to each other about risk profiles and the risks of the future. There’s a new appreciation that this is one industry, not four or five different industries, he said, and as somebody who remembers the days when this wasn’t the case, it’s a breath of fresh air.
“Pre my loss adjusting days, when I worked for an insurer, I did a paper for my employer about what I thought we could do differently in the business,” he said. “And my recommendation was about joining up claims and underwriting. So, here we are 30 years later, and it really is happening. But it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not happening everywhere and more of that joined-up approach does need to be taken across the industry to protect our clients and their customers.”
An area where this is more relevant than perhaps ever before is when it comes to supporting clients in mitigating the emerging trends eating up the agendas of risk managers. A pressing risk is around the impact of climate change, he said, as both the frequency and severity of weather-related events appear to be on the uptick.
That’s where Sedgwick being a truly global enterprise comes into its own, Gilbert said, as being able to leverage that scale is what allows the firm to provide valuable outcome-orientated data and insights – looking after the businesses and lives affected but also the indemnity spend of its clients. That applies whether you’re an insurer, a corporate risk manager or a global business – everybody needs to be keyed into the ongoing conversations about how they can become better at managing risk.
“Even in the last 10 years I’ve seen a massive change in the outlook between resilience measures,” he said. “There’s so much more focus on that now, though of course this has to be balanced with maintaining your core loss adjusting and claims management bench strength, which we do. But it has to be about more than that now, you have to be looking to the diversification of your product without taking your eye off the core.
“Which again, is where being a global business with our scale is so important because it allows us to invest in new areas based on what we’re hearing from our clients and partners – and to put the structures in place to support them proactively as well as reactively. Having a real multi-agency approach that can be accessed under one roof makes the journey, the claim and the outcome so much better for customers.”
It’s great to see that being recognised across the wider insurance ecosystem, he said, recognition that was hammered home for him during this year’s Airmic conference.
“Going between the stands, you saw insurers, brokers, risk managers, claims management businesses and the ultimate customers talking to each other and working out how to go about this better,” he said. “And those conversations are far more advanced now. Ten (10), even five years ago, we’d have been talking about what we should be doing. Now we’re talking about what we are doing and how we can make that even better.”
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