Risk management experience key for Swiss Re’s Arquint

Nina Arquint took on the role of chief executive for Swiss Re’s Corporate Solutions EMEA business in February, having previously served as the unit’s global chief risk officer (CRO). Prior to joining Swiss Re, Arquint was head of the Strategic Services Division and member of the executive committee at the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Arquint takes on the role at an interesting time for the corporate insurance market, which has undergone several years of price rises. Against a backdrop of increased reinsurance costs, inflation and geopolitical and economic volatility, many commercial insurers are now looking to grow.

Arquint believes her previous role as CRO stands her in good stead to steer Swiss Re Corporate Solutions through the next phase of the market cycle.

“My role in risk management has prepared me well in terms of the tools and the way I look at risk, and the way I make decisions. I would recommend to others that they take a CRO or risk management role throughout their career. The way you think, the way you assess and consider risk, is incredibly valuable,” said Arquint.

Her CRO background should also help Arquint better understand the changing needs of insurance buyers, who increasingly need a broader understanding of their organisation’s risks.

“If you have a more holistic understanding and view of the risks of a company, you can do your job much better. You are a more informed buyer of insurance, and bring a different understanding and additional power to the table, and you can feed that back into the organisation,” she said.

“We are in the world of taking risk, and being a risk manager has helped me think about risk and how to see it in a holistic way, and to think about emerging risks and what to do about those. Ultimately, it also helps when making judgement calls – which risks do you take and at what price and conditions? The role of a CRO or a risk manager is not to avoid risk altogether. If you do that, you will be out of business,” said Arquint.

In fact, the role of insurance buyer and risk manager is expanding, according to Arquint. Take sustainability – four or five years ago it was not a topic for most risk managers. Now it is on most risk managers’ radar, said Arquint.

“Firms benefit from more holistic risk management teams as they must deal with topics of the future like climate change. Not just buying insurance as a commodity but thinking beyond and into the future, what the company needs to do now to be more resilient in the future. It’s that mindset and thinking I believe strongly comes from the risk management discipline,” she said.

Arquint also believes that understanding risk culture is important for risk managers. “It is important to understand the incentives in the organisation, and the importance of having a strong tone from the top, and creating an environment where people feel safe to talk about mistakes and raise their hands. You need to have a healthy culture to deal with mistakes and not a culture of fear. You always need strong governance in place but what you also need is a strong risk culture,” said Arquint.

The importance of risk management is also now shaping the commercial insurance proposition, she continued.

“It’s not a pure capacity and price play for many clients anymore. It goes much broader than that. Many of the conversations we have with commercial clients are now about their needs beyond the traditional insurance products on the market. It is about getting a better understanding of the totality of risks they face and helping them in a broader way to manage the risks they have. These kinds of conversations are increasing,” she said.

“For example, corporates want to understand the value of parametric solutions and how they complement the indemnity-based insurance cover. More and more we have conversations on what is the right captive retention, the value of self-insurance, and how can you structure insurance in a way that you can get protection from multi-line multi-year insurance for risks that you can no longer buy on a standalone basis,” added Arquint.

She believes insurers will need to work with corporates to improve the quality of risk. “I would expect an increased focus on addressing clients’ needs and working together around risk insights and engineering to improve risk management and risk quality. It’s absolutely critical we continue to do that as a commercial insurance industry, and in particular for Corporate Solutions. It is what we are good at and is a key strategic priority for us,” she said.

Arquint also takes on the EMEA CEO role at an interesting time for Corporate Solutions. The business recently completed its turnaround plan and returned to profitability.

“Corporate Solutions has a very clear strategy, and we have a very strong position and value proposition. For me it’s about continuing to build out the proposition we have in the EMEA market. Europe has a mature insurance buying community and we are well positioned to be a specialised partner for corporates in this dynamic environment, in which risks are changing in a way that goes well beyond traditional risk transfer and more into a preventative way of thinking about risk,” said Arquint.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions reported net income of $486m in 2022 and a 47% increase to $323m for the first half of 2023. It saw its combined ratio improve again at half year to 91% and is on track towards the target of achieving a combined ratio below 94% for the full year.

“You can see we are now on very solid ground,” said Arquint. “Corporate Solutions is now in a much better position to help our customers and brokers through the market cycles. We have been very successful in transforming our business over the past three years,” she said.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions will remain disciplined and focused on achieving its financial targets, explained Arquint.

“We intend to drive our differentiated value propositions. These include our innovative risk solutions – which include parametric, captive and structured solutions as well as structured fronting. Furthermore, we are now well established in the international programme lead business, and there is clearly more for us to do in that space. Also engineering and construction – we are a strong player there. You can also expect more from us on casualty outside the US. In particular, EMEA casualty is a growth strategy and has been for more than a year,” she said.

Corporate Solution will also focus on delivering risk data and services (RDS) to corporate clients in EMEA, according to Arquint. The RDS platform helps companies build a digital twin of their assets to get an accurate overview of their exposure. With a virtual representation of their business, corporate clients can create simulations based on real-world scenarios and access Swiss Re’s risk insights based on its analytical data model, she explained.

“RDS helps companies become more resilient by making better, data-driven business decisions and taking back control of their risks,” said Arquint. “Customers can securely upload their data on the RDS platform, a platform that is neutral and open. This data belongs to the customer – they have control of it and only they define who sees the data,” she added.

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