Smoke, Mirrors, & Analytics By: Jeff Irvan, Chief Property Officer, BMS Re
“Is your PML running a little high? Has profitability been keeping you down? If so, you should ask your reinsurance broker if ‘Risk-Improve’ is right for you. Risk-Improve is a proprietary tool created to cure all of your underwriting woes. It comes with striking graphics and a sales pitch that makes you wonder how you ever got on without it. And if you act today, we will also throw in ‘Proportional Powerhouse’ for free.”
This obviously contains some hyperbole, but the messaging may have a ring of familiarity. Over time, brokers have increasingly used analytical tools as the primary method of differentiating themselves from competitors. This was so prevalent that years ago it led to the term “analytics arms race” becoming common language in the world of reinsurance brokers. On the plus side, the desire to differentiate has led to more investment dollars in analytics and some bona fide innovation. On the down side, this desire has driven brokers to overpromise with soundbites and a whole lot of smoke and mirrors. If there was an FDA-style agency governing reinsurance pitches, the last few pages of the PowerPoint might include: “Warning: it is conceivable you could run Risk- Improve yourself and implement it within your underwriting system as advertised, but in 99 out of 100 cases this is not actually feasible, and therefore most clients don’t use it.” “If you are wondering whether Risk-Improve is really just glossy formatted output from a standard simulation engine (that all brokers have some form of), please look away.” “Risk-Improve is not intended to solve problems specific to you. If you have moderate-to-severe problems that need specific, tailored solutions, then Risk-Improve is not for you.”
Consistently delivering positive results in the insurance world is no easy task, especially in the past few years given the onslaught of natural peril events. There is no magic tool, no insurance equivalent of deus ex machina, and no such thing as a bag of magic beans that leads to profitable growth as easily and quickly as the bean stalk in the classic fairy tale. At some point during the escalation of the analytics arms race, brokers have lost their way. Too much time and energy has been wasted trying to build tools that look different, but lack innovation. More often than not they come in groups: 1. Reboots of old models; 2. A flashy format on top of a generic tool; or worse; and 3. An optimization program that can’t actually be implemented. Analytical offerings have become more inwardly focused than client focused. Let us be clear about something: a simulation engine with a user- friendly interface coupled with slick exhibits out the back-end makes the broker’s life easier, NOT the client’s .
clients, you transform from a broking house providing analytic output to a broking house providing specific answers to client’s unique challenges. This is exactly the reason BMS launched our Pathlight Analytics TM platform. It does not play into the analytics arms race with another flashy tool, rather it is the platform upon which our analytical capabilities sit . The role of analytics is to help clients identify options and determine the optimal path, hence the name Pathlight Analytics TM . Rather than organizing our capabilities in silos based on discipline, e.g., Actuarial or Rating Agency Advisory, we act as a single, multi-disciplined team with solutions provided in direct relation to the challenges our clients face. The four broad categories which represent how we help clients include:
What do clients really need their broker to deliver? What does value-added (done well) look like? The answer may sound overly simplistic, but clients need answers not output . These are very different things. Let us illustrate the difference between answers and output with a real example. On a co-broked property placement, BMS Re and the (large global) co-broker were asked to analyze the implications of adding a new book of business to the existing portfolio. Both brokers delivered their independent responses to the client on the same day.
The competitor sent 12 exhibits showing the impact on their PML from different perspectives.
1. Protect their capital 2. Grow their portfolio 3. Improve their results 4. Stay Informed
In contrast, BMS provided:
1. A similar view on PML impact (we all use the same models) 2. The additional reinsurance cost they would incur 3. Commentary on how the new program would be viewed by reinsurers 4. How the net position would change with respect to capital at risk 5. Implications on the BCAR score 6. Solutions for the on boarding logistics while the exposure rolls on over a 12- month period. In other words, we listened to the problem, thought about things from the client’s perspective, and provided answers not output . While we certainly access tools within our arsenal, intelligent answers to unique challenges do not come from an over-reliance on generic models with glossy output; rather, they come from collaboration between the client and the multiple disciplines the broker brings to the equation. When actuaries, cat modelers, brokers, and capital management experts work together without silos, and have unfettered access to
To avoid hypocrisy, here are the BMS disclaimers at the end of our commercial:
“Successfully solving problems by accessing Pathlight Analytics TM requires a commitment to collaborate and be transparent.” “If you prefer to rely on promises of rainbows and unicorns to face challenges, then Pathlight Analytics TM is not for you.” To learn more about Pathlight Analytics TM click here . BMS Group Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 309686. Registered in England 1479949. BMS Re is a trading name of BMS Group Ltd. BMS Intermediaries Inc. is a US licensed Reinsurance Intermediary Broker headquartered in Minneapolis and registered in Texas 156302700. BMS Latin America LLC is a division of BMS Intermediaries Inc. BMS Intermediaries, Inc. also operates as BMS Re US. This is a marketing communication.
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