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“ We empower our underwriters and business leaders to make decisions, and this means that we can be a little more flexible and faster with our answers and with our reactions to the market than perhaps some of our competitors. We have no underwriting decision made by committee but, of course, empowerment means responsibility, and those are the principles which drive our actions in the market.”


“We offer value to our clients through a consistent approach. We have run a similar underwriting disciple and strategy for at least the last 20 years and that increasingly helps us to generate more business,” he claims. “We have not communicated any dramatic changes in our underwriting policy, in terms of what we want or what we don’t want. We won’t have any surprises for our clients.


“We empower our underwriters and business leaders to make decisions,


and this means that we can be a little more flexible and faster with our answers and with our reactions to the market than perhaps some of our competitors. We have no underwriting decision made by committee but, of course, empowerment means responsibility, and those are the principles which drive our actions in the market.”


He explains how, within this culture of empowerment, the company


still maintains underwriting discipline. He says strict guidelines are put in place in terms of what the company will and will not do according to its risk appetite. He adds that the profits expected from underwriters should also be proportionate to the level of risks they are allowed to take. Without this approach, it can be difficult to maintain discipline, he says.


“If you have less risk capital to work with, you cannot achieve the


“Safe and secure investments are becoming more and more difficult to come by, but we must also try to optimise the yields that we need from our investments,” he says.


He explains that the poor investment environment has also forced the company to look to increase its bottom line in both life and non-life from increased underwriting income. He calls this the “new line profitability” that the company must now target, taking into account reduced returns on the investment side.


He is optimistic about the company’s ability to achieve this and thus


continue to hit its profit targets. It will be helped only partially by improvements in rates in 2012, he says, but he does anticipate some rate increases. “We expect the rating environment and the conditions for the reinsurance market to be slightly better in 2012. It will be only a modest change and we have to find the best possible way for us to participate in this market opportunity,” he says.


CONSISTENCY AND EMPOWERMENT One way the company has consistently won opportunities, Wallin says,


is through its consistency on the underwriting side. The extent of this is extremely rare among reinsurers, he believes, as is the extent to which it empowers its underwriters to make decisions.


same profitability as you would have had you had more,” he says. “It is, of course, an underwriter’s job to make the most of what they’ve got. But it is important that you don’t expect results from people where you have not given them the tools to achieve those results. For disciplined underwriting, that is very important. If the underwriter has expectations of unrealistically high profitability, there is always the higher chance that they will try to bend the rules on risk-taking in order to achieve that.”


He says such an approach also helps bridge the gap between the wishes and ideals of the chief executives of companies and the reality of the deals negotiated by underwriters. It is not about whether rates go up or down, he argues, it is more important to get the margins required.


“That is the most important thing. Whether the underwriter got more


than the year before in terms of rates is a secondary consideration,” he says. “Even with a rate increase, if the margin requirement is not met, we would still not write the business.”


It is that sort of disciplined approach that has seen Wallin navigate an


already stable ship into even calmer waters over the past three years to the extent that it is now better able to withstand the storms that the industry so often must weather.


With the investment climate showing no sign of improving and his


prediction that the industry as a whole will likely stagnate in terms of growth, he will need every ounce of this discipline going forward. He plays down his contribution over the last three years. “There have been no dramatic changes, just a shift in emphasis,” he says. He will hope that this shift will be enough to steer him through the next three years.


October 2011 | INTELLIGENT INSURER | 19


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