What does it take to be a leader in Specialty Insurance?

Vincent Tizzio, incoming group CEO at AXIS Insurance and current CEO of AXIS Specialty Insurance and Reinsurance, explains the highlights of his role so far and what being a Specialty leader looks like for the firm. He tells IBTV about what lies ahead for the company and the wider market.


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Paul: [00:00:22] Hello everyone, and welcome to a special edition of Insurance Business TV. Special in one sense, because we're going to talk about the specialty markets, but special in another because of our guest, a man who is on the cusp of moving into the role of group CEO. But before I introduce him, I have to keep you in suspense for a little longer. Let's talk about those specialty markets. It has been described in some circles as a golden age for the sector, with demand surging as the importance of individually tailored advice moves to the forefront amid a host of challenges and in the face, of course, of a hardening market. For brokers, having a specialty in a particular insurance line has become a vital part of doing business, whether that's environmental construction, cyber among others, of course. But where should they turn to for solutions that genuinely meet their clients needs? And what challenges lie ahead? Well, today I'm delighted to welcome that future Group CEO but current CEO of AXIS Specialty Insurance and Reinsurance, Vincent Tizzio. So Vincent, amazingly, you've only been with AXIS for around 12 months or so. So tell me, what have been the highlights for you personally and what have been the most significant changes in that time? 

Vincent: [00:01:46] Well, first, let me just say that you characterized the specialty markets uniquely well in your outset framing, because it's been really quite, quite dynamic. And frankly, it aligns to part of my answer to your question, which is during my last 12 months, I've integrated into a new organization. I've seen first-hand specialists in action dealing with customers’ problems in arguably one of the most dynamic markets that we've seen as specialists in the last several decades. To be sure. I mean, first, you can think about the geopolitical uncertainty that is confronted by specialists in bringing products to solve customer's problems. You don't have to read beyond any paper to see just the number of ships in the Baltic trying to ensure that those ships are safe, that the goods and services that are either trying to leave or come in with humanitarian aid to the Ukraine and elsewhere are able to actually make the passage through. You think about cyber and all of the unique exposures to loss that have emerged over these last several years, albeit a diminution in frequency in 2022 around ransomware and then certainly public D&O. And so all of these kinds of underwriting issues have been fascinating for me to help lead following my transition from the advisory role and on really every dimension. I've learned that AXIS underwriting is a organization of specialization in an organization that prides itself in customer expectations being exceeded and ultimately our collaborative culture. So those are the learnings that I've seen in this past year. 

Paul: [00:03:33] You touched on many of the different lines there, of course, cyber, D&O, etc. Just, it's a reminder, isn't it, that specialty is a very, very broad term indeed. So what does being a leader in specialty look like at AXIS? 

Vincent: [00:03:49] Firstly, specialists for us deal with distribution partners that are generally representing that one line of insurance that we're working with them on. Right? So a specialist has subject matter domain in the class of insurance that we're bringing to market, and we choose distribution partners that really specialize in understanding the customer's needs in that line of business. Secondly, we believe we address a number of exposures to loss that don't get adequately protection or protected excuse me, within a standard lines offering. Finally, we have persons that are typically organized in an underwriting function whose sole craft is to bring tailored solutions to the product line they represent within AXIS to a variety of industry groups. And so for us at AXIS, that really is the sort of heart of what a specialist is. 

Paul: [00:04:51] So for now, you're a specialty leader. But as I mentioned at the top, you're about to be the leader for the entire group stepping into Albert's shoes, of course. I know it's probably going to be a very, very difficult question for you to answer, but what changes will we see as a result of this after May when you step into that hot seat? And what do you see yourself bringing to this role? 

Vincent: [00:05:15] We will continue to aspire to be a specialty underwriting organization with a leaning toward the insurance underwriting businesses that form the specialty opportunity that we see. Secondly, we want to continue bringing value propositions that solve real problems for our customers. We will continue to distribute our products and capabilities through intermediaries. We have a dual distribution model at AXIS, though in substantial part our wholesale dependent. We value all of our trading partners and want to continue to earn appropriate wallet share and to realize a profitable growth aspiration that we've spoken publicly about over the many quarters preceding me and during my tenure here at AXIS. 

Paul: [00:06:03] So clearly you've got some some goals, some ambitions that you're aiming to fulfill. But I imagine that there's going to be some some challenges on the horizon as well. So can you give us a little glimpse into what you see as the challenges potentially for both AXIS and for the wider insurance market as well? 

Vincent: [00:06:20] Yeah. First, we're an industry that has ample opportunity at attracting new talent to the craft of underwriting in the specialty businesses. So among the focuses I'd like to pay attention and be a proper spokesperson for AXIS is attracting talent to our company in the next level of generation of younger colleagues that are deciding where they want to sort of put their underwriting teeth and where they want to learn the business. Secondly, in the business dynamic of dealing with loss, cost trends, geopolitical uncertainty, inflation of its various sizes and shapes and dimensions, these are all focuses that we have to lead through. And then finally, the dimension of bringing a product to market, to intermediaries and ultimately customers that is predictable, consistent in the service delivery, I think is incredibly important and AXIS is committed to exceeding expectations in the customer delivery component of our underwriting craft is committed to offering opportunity to our associates within the AXIS family. And then finally, we have large expectations around our journey in advancing all of the elements of our underwriting strategy to be regarded as a top quintile specialist in the global markets. 

Paul: [00:07:42] You know, it sounds like some terrific plans ahead, Vincent. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you with us. Wishing you and AXIS the best of luck, especially, of course, when you move into the hot seat. And if you want more from the biggest names in the insurance industry, make sure you keep it right here at insurance business TV.