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Developing an award-winning technology solution takes more than just good tech (though that’s important too), it takes deep market insight and first-hand knowledge of the intended customers.
It’s all very well developing a great piece of technology, but without understanding the nuances of the problem you’re trying to help your customers to address, or the peculiarities of the market they’re working in, the solution may not quite be the answer to their prayers.
One person who understands that is our Head of Engineering, Greg Hall. Greg is passionate about developing software, but more than that, as a founder and CTO of an MGA he really understands the challenges facing underwriters day-to-day, and sees the value the Send Underwriting Workbench can add.
Greg’s many years of experience in the insurance sector has given him the insights we love at Send to design, deploy and optimise products that underwriters actually want to use. We sat down for a chat with Greg to find out more about his background, thoughts on the development of underwriting technology and building successful teams.
From co-founder and CTO of an MGA to Head of Engineering at Send, that’s quite an ‘Evolution’…
Back in 2004 I was one of the founders of Evolution Underwriting Group, which was integrated into Pen Underwriting in 2015 after being acquired by US broking giant AJG. The group had three distinct businesses, an underwriting agency specialising in packaged products for the commercial sector, a services function and, importantly, a technology company.
As CTO I was in involved in both the technology and underwriting businesses, so I developed a really deep understanding of the MGA sector and commercial lines markets, and what underwriters need to help them do their job effectively and efficiently. Armed with this knowledge I worked with a team to develop a platform that met their needs and could be marketable beyond the business. This web-based platform was designed to manage the full lifecycle process between external brokers and underwriters in the MGA, a very early workbench platform.
The solution was highly configurable, allowing products to be built very quickly, and helping underwriters with things such as data capture, rating, policy document generation, document management, broker accounting and data analysis and reporting.
I’ve been developing solutions for the insurance industry since 2000, so it’s perhaps not so surprising that I’m now here at Send, helping to create an exceptional back-end function for their award-winning Underwriting Workbench.
As a very early pioneer of Workbench technology, what do you think has changed in the delegated authority market?
In some ways, very little has changed in the actual operation and requirements of MGAs/MGUs. The business model hasn’t changed much, but the market has undoubtedly accelerated over the past few years. We’re seeing more MGAs entering the market with a vision to provide niche products that add real value to their insurer and broker partners.
Though the model itself hasn’t changed, one thing that has is the expectation of what technology can provide. The technology we use in our day-to-day lives (like digital banking or e-commerce) has taken huge leaps in recent years, and we expect the same useability, performance, functionality and seamless customer journeys in the programmes we use at work. Underwriters want easy-to-use systems that can automate processes, assist with meaningful insights on risk details and help them to manage their risks at the touch of a button.
User experience is one of the areas where Send excels. We’ve invested in creating a simple user interface that can make complex risks simple to navigate. Underwriters want to use our Underwriting Workbench because it feels familiar to use whilst being underpinned by seriously impressive technology.
Despite all the advances the industry has made in technology, there are many areas yet to be optimised. I’m really looking forward to exploring more ways to improve underwriting processes, such as pushing the boundaries on AI and automation to assist with pricing and risk analysis, and enabling underwriters to focus more on the areas where their skills are imperative.
Technology never sits still, what do you think the market will be seeing in the year ahead?
With the continuing boom in MGAs entering the market, we believe our Underwriting Workbench is a valuable tool in enabling those businesses to grow. We can help these businesses become more efficient – I think we’ll see greater adoption of technology in this sector, as they understand the competitive advantage technology can bring in differentiating their services in the marketplace.
Beyond more efficient underwriting processes, I believe we’ll see improved data analytics to extract more meaningful insights from data, and a wider use of composable solutions, such as we have at Send, which can bring together the many different services available in the market through a single interface, creating a very rich user experience.
What are some of your own priorities for the year ahead?
Send is growing, so recruitment and growing our highly experienced team is a key priority. We have a diverse set of skills in the team, such as UX designers, Angular, Python and Java developers, DevOps engineers, data engineers, business analysts and product owners, so communication, collaboration and innovation remain a key focus, both internally and with our customers.
Our Underwriting Workbench is already used by carriers and MGAs (both start-up and mature organisations), so it has a broad range of functionality. Ensuring our product remains easily configurable to meet our customers’ business requirements as we continue to expand its capabilities will also be a key focus.
Lastly, why did you choose to join Send?
Send has a great team of people and a product everyone is genuinely passionate about. I can see it making a real difference to our customers. I have a lot of experience in building similar InsureTech solutions, so it was a great fit for me. And I’m excited about the journey ahead and what we can achieve together.
If you’d like to connect with Greg, you can find him on LinkedIn here.