The Write Stuff

The best underwriters bring more than just technical skills to the table. Increasingly, they are the business builders of their organizations.

Best's Review | October 1, 2019

The Best's Review article, "The Write Stuff," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Dave Seeley sharing his take on underwriters. The article is excerpted below.

Ben Bolton has worked with underwriting teams for the last two decades. Seven years ago Bolton, the CEO of Gracechurch Consulting, and his team set out to identify who the best ones were.


Great underwriters don't just affect profit and loss, experts say. They attract better risks, bring in new business and improve the customer experience. And in today's business climate, underwriters are expected to do more of that.

The role of the underwriter is expanding, both as a result of technology and as a result of market conditions. And the skills required to excel in this new environment may not be what you think.


“There's a segment of underwriting talent that hasn't ever seen a hard market,” Dave Seeley, consultant with Russell Reynolds Associates, said. “Absolutely experience does matter. You want people with the ability to operate in different environments, hard and soft. Underwriters who have that experience will certainly play a role in the success of an organization.

“Brokers recognize where the great talent lies, and part of their job is to make the appropriate selection of which underwriters to engage with on accounts. There are definitely reputations in terms of where the great underwriting talent sits.”


Seeley said it's hard to point to individuals as being the driver of underwriting decisions in the U.S.

“In the States, at larger carriers, in particular, the underwriting governance and authority tends to be held more centrally, not at the front lines,” Seeley said. “So it's hard for underwriters to define themselves individually.”


“The London Market is more concentrated and you have syndicates that tend to grant more of the authority right at the front lines,” Seeley said. “So, in a way, as a London underwriter you're able to really make a name for yourself.”

To read the full article, click here.

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The Write Stuff