A year in the life of Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips

DA Strategy’s Matthew Phillips on his first year in the industry, attracting talent and the impact this will have on the future of insurance.

As I write, the Summer holidays are winding down and those who decided to go to university will be preparing for this new and exciting chapter in their lives and those who haven’t will be mapping out either travel plans or thinking about what their next steps will be.

Having just completed my first year in insurance, it’s funny looking back on these moments and wonder if I ever thought insurance was going to be the industry I would join fresh out of university.

During university I had decided that I wanted to work in consultancy as I felt it fitted well with my skill set and I was attracted to the idea of having a variety of work.

At the time, I felt a bit indifferent about which industry I could achieve this goal, but sure enough a recruiter on LinkedIn introduced me to DA Strategy, a London-based consultancy firm that concentrates on all matters delegated authority, from managing carrier arrangements to start-up MGAs looking to build out in this space.

What a year it has been

Working for a growing London consultancy firm, which is arguably focusing on one of the most interesting and developing aspects of the industry, has been an incredible eye-opener.

My proudest achievement of my first year is the breadth of knowledge I have developed, and I feel this is unique to working for a consultancy and the type of clients we attract with their range of sizes and differing requirements.

I have gone from, at best, a passive consumer of insurance, to develop a deep understanding in several aspects of delegated authority business, including, on-boarding facilitation, due diligence, lineslips, binding authorities and audit. In addition to this, I’ve also been working very closely with my colleagues and clients to start developing an understanding of conduct risk and product governance.

One of my favorite things about working for DA Strategy is the level of autonomy I am given and was afforded right from the start.

Given the fact I started out on a graduate scheme, this is not typically something my peers who work for other businesses or indeed other industries and I have in common. I’m working for a growing company which values my insight and empowers my decision-making.  I feel trusted to do my job which motivates me to deliver work and achieve more for myself and the clients I work with and I’m fortunate to work with some very knowledge and senior members in the industry.

Attracting talent

I believe the industry could improve its recruitment of younger people and with that, fresh, new talent. During university several other industries would host events, attend careers fairs and engage with students. I attended City, University of London – a stones throw away from the City and I never recall Lloyd’s or a London Market Insurance company having a presence on campus.

In saying that, I did do computer science so maybe I wasn’t seen as a ‘target’. But this raises the point, if the industry is only targeting grads from certain areas – whichever they might be – why is that? For such a vibrant, excelling and interesting profession, the talent available to help shape the industry’s future is out there, it just needs to be sought out more proactively.

Moving forward

I am very excited to see what the future holds for the industry and where my career will lead. My generation will see lots of change in how insurance operates, markets itself and fundamentally delivers on its promises.

I have already seen some intriguing insurtech start-ups. However, the new delegated authority businesses I have seen, often with exciting innovative products that reflect the fast-paced, evolving world we operate in, are fascinating.

Such innovation requires new ideas from a new talent cohort, not just the same talent moving around companies, bringing in tried and tested ideas. Don’t get me wrong, of course these are excellent – experience stands for a lot, but are they relevant to the risks we face today and the generation we’re looking to sell these to?

I am energized by the effort by Lloyd’s is determined to make to modernize certain aspects of the industry, but it appears to be met with resistance. I do enjoy tradition and like to see parts of it kept, but London needs to ensure it isn’t just reactive in its stance to risk, it needs to be proactive and doing enough to ensure it keeps up with other markets in the world and is attractive to future talent.

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