People are exciting. That’s not a statement you might have heard pre-2020, but since the pandemic and the enforced isolation of lockdown, the experience of simply bumping into someone you’ve known for many years and having a conversation has clearly been re-evaluated.
What was taken for granted in 2019, is now a thing to be treasured. And if anything sums up Airmic 2022, it’s that face-to-face is back in a big way.
The energy in the exhibition hall in Liverpool was undeniable. Old friends reconnecting; old colleagues catching up on the latest news; risk managers and clients seeking out business partners for a much-delayed conversation.
At times, the Sompo International stand overflowed with brokers happy to be reacquainting themselves with our team. Last October’s Airmic event wasn’t forgotten, but this was the real thing: the insurance industry at its most sociable.
Intriguingly, all our reflections on the event link back to the pandemic in one way or another. In many senses, Airmic 2022 was a snapshot of a market on the rebound. With the restraints of lockdown lifted, new possibilities were evident for all to see.
Even though we’re living through a period of considerable economic volatility – high inflation, high energy prices, the impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict – delegates were remarkably upbeat about the prospects for growth.
One thing that was very evident is that risk managers are keen to establish and maintain long-term relationships – perhaps even more so than in the past. In many senses, those well-established business relationships acted as a safety net throughout the pandemic, ensuring that insurers, brokers and clients remained in close contact and continued to respond to one another’s needs.
Risk managers have certainly learned that lesson. Our sense is that they are seeking sustainable partnerships that will see them through the most challenging of circumstances, including the transition towards net zero.
Consistency is another quality that’s being held in high esteem by risk managers. Consistency of approach, consistency of risk appetite, consistency of presence in a given line of business. Three years ago, when Sompo International talked about its consistency, it was a message that was appreciated by brokers and risk managers. Now having seen that quality in action, there’s a whole new level of appreciation from the market.
When the business environment is turbulent, consistency from a client’s risk partner generates confidence and makes the risk manager’s role that bit easier. Opportunity is another word that could be heard buzzing around the conference.
Throughout the pandemic, many clients have been operating in survival mode, dealing with urgent issues such as decreased revenues, staff furloughs, premises closures. Now, as we return to something akin to business as usual, the normal process of risk management is returning.
Reviews and analyses that should have been conducted over the last two years are happening. Risk managers are addressing the demands of their roles and that’s leading to change on a level we’ve not seen for some time.
ESG was also high on the agenda. Airmic’s ESG sessions were well attended and clients were keen to understand how their risk carrier would support them through the transition to net zero. The development of new clean technologies is a major factor in the transition, so clients need to be confident that insurers will support these new technologies as they come on stream.
Finally, there was a strong sense of excitement about the whole event. Excitement to be reunited as an industry, but also excitement about what Sompo International could offer.
Compared to many other risk carriers, Sompo International is perceived as having started with a blank sheet of paper in order to build something new and client-focused. The awareness of our growing team is certainly making an impact. There was real interest at the event about what we could offer. As clients look to grow again post-pandemic, Sompo International is increasingly seen as a desirable partner.
People were back at Airmic 2022, which is good news for us because, at Sompo International, good people have never been out of fashion.