Over the past four years since Richard Clapham joined DUAL International, it has successfully diversified its product range and embedded a sustainable and scalable structure throughout the business.
Now, having successfully navigated the challenges of COVID-19, he explains to The CEO Magazine how its sights are set firmly on acquisitions.
Tell us a little bit about how you ended up in your current position.
As a Managing General Agent, DUAL underwrites on behalf of insurance companies and distributes products via a broker network. Prior to DUAL, the first part of my career was in broking and the second in underwriting, so my experience on both sides of the fence was perfect for my role now.
A key theme for me is to always be completely TM authentic as a leader.
In 2002, I was also part of an insurance startup, which raised €110 million on the AIM market. That gave me a completely different perspective and one that’s been useful at DUAL.
How have these different experiences helped shape your leadership style?
A key theme for me is to always be completely authentic as a leader. If you work in an organisation that allows you to be yourself, it also allows you to be passionate about the things that matter.
How important is culture to the business and how do you instil this in your employees?
It’s absolutely critical. We have a strong people-first philosophy and we believe that the only way to be part of the future is to be a truly sustainable business. Volunteering is a key part of our culture and all employees globally are encouraged to give their time to causes that matter to them.
The best team is an inclusive team and we see this across the group. Most recently, this has been evidenced as colleagues supported each other throughout the global COVID-19 lockdown. I am really proud of how quickly we responded to the challenges of the pandemic.
We have had feedback from both our clients and our people about how highly this was valued. It talks to our entrepreneurial culture and our people-first philosophy, which are embedded throughout the organisation.
You joined during a transformational period for the business. Can you tell us more about how the company has developed?
Since I came on board, our focus has been on building an organisational structure that is scalable and has long-term sustainability. This has meant deep dives on all aspects of the business including improving operational efficiencies and leveraging our global collective wisdom.
We are strongly focused on acquisitions. This is a really significant development for us.
What will be your key areas of focus over the next 12–18 months?
We are strongly focused on acquisitions. This is a really significant development for us as a business – an absolute game-changer.
The fact that our parent company Howden Group Holdings is investing its own capital in us, proves its confidence in the quality of data, talent, technology and expertise that are embedded in our business. This investment also gives our insurer partners extra confidence in DUAL.
What makes DUAL unique?
One of DUAL’s key differentiators is that we are both global and local. We have local talent who really understand their market and their clients’ needs and we combine this with global distribution.
In fact, since we launched over 22 years ago, DUAL has never been constrained to do things like everyone else and the fact that we can now deploy Group capital alongside our existing capacity providers only speaks to that.
When you first came on board as Group CEO, what important opportunities did you see for taking the business forward?
Joining DUAL was a unique opportunity to not only join the world’s largest international underwriting agency, but to also do so with the confidence that it was not being built to be sold.
DUAL’s independence has given me the chance to focus on the company being the world’s best underwriting business. Another opportunity was to continue to diversify our business line.
Five years ago, we were pretty much 100% focused on financial lines, but now that business line accounts for only around 28% of our business. Today, we underwrite more than 50 products on behalf of more than 60 capacity providers.
What disruptions do you believe will happen in the sector and what is DUAL doing to ensure it is ready?
There has been a lot of talk about technology and activity in the insurtech space, but this still feels like a relatively unsolved area. As an industry, there’s a great deal going on in terms of how we use our data and how to best derive meaningful insights from that data.
It’s an ongoing journey, but DUAL is absolutely determined to be a leader in this space. And because we have both scale and independence, we are in a far better position to be able to drive exactly how we invest in technology.
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