Author: Paul Trueman, Underwriting Manager, Airlines, Global Aerospace
It’s my daughter’s first week at school (or at least it was at the time of writing). Time to learn that the moon isn’t made of cheese, 2 + 2 = 4 and somewhat devastatingly perhaps for the Trueman household, that unicorns do not actually exist.
I won’t lie - the champagne is on ice. It means she can’t have an outright fight and/or screaming match with her two and a half-year-old brother every seven minutes. Or, gouge her scooter through our freshly plastered walls every day to name a couple of the immediate benefits.
Don’t get me wrong, as parents, we have cherished the additional time we have had together as a family – undoubtedly one of the benefits that has arisen from this crisis. However, I believe we are now as a family both collectively and individually ready to embrace some stability and normality where it can exist in today’s world, and the school is at least for us a shining beacon of hope. After all, what could represent stability and normality more than taking your kids to school at the start of September – a true annual milestone.
Another milestone was also achieved this week with the office open at Global Aerospace. This week I spent my first two days in the office in six months. While this may be short-lived for now as restrictions resume, it was surprisingly refreshing – not because my usual train route was 80% less congested or because I was in more relaxed attire, but because I was simply back in the office. With a routine, people to speak to, a broker to discuss a renewal with and some internal meetings to prepare for, stability and simplicity was back, albeit briefly, and provides reassurance for a time where being back in the office is more permanent.
I feel very lucky to have a degree of stability returning to my life. I am not sure how long it will last at this point. My BBC news feed is currently littered with articles on new local lockdowns, but I am taking advantage of it whilst I can. Unfortunately, many others are not so fortunate.
As aviation underwriters, we have all spent the past six months having some very depressing conversations with clients about the pandemic’s impact on their operations both today and for the future. Along the way, we have heard tragic stories of mass furloughs and significant redundancies – in some cases, it has been the people we have been dealing with for many years. On a personal level, I have a couple of friends who are pilots in the UK. Discussion regarding the pandemic has now almost become a taboo subject whilst in their vicinity – who can blame them for that. We see and hear the pain for so many, whilst some of us can obtain some small degree of stability which is unfortunately still out of reach for others.
As humans, we tend to crave what we can’t quite obtain, more money, a bigger house, more freedom, more time. Don’t beat yourself up about it; it is hard-wired. For six months, we have lived with uncertainty, instability and volatility in both our personal and work lives. Once the norm, this stability and certainty, is now seldom available, and we crave it as a result.
The aviation insurance industry is a true provider of stability. A vehicle to mitigate some of the risk that exists in the world and allow individuals and businesses to thrive. How such stability is provided is multi faceted, however, and frankly speaking, some are better at delivering it than others.
The ability to write a cheque that won’t bounce, and write the cheque within 48 hours rather than 48 days is just the start of the stable offering. Offering consistency of service, approach and having the experience to deal with an unfortunate event when it arises whilst also providing clients and brokers with true decision makers is just as important. In fact, some of these ‘softer’ skills have risen to the very forefront of our clients and brokers minds during this pandemic – they have immense value. It stands to reason therefore that the intrinsic value of that stability (however people want to quantify it) is at the start of a very long bull run. Sure, it might not be completely apparent and appreciated everywhere, but it is happening.
Aviation underwriters are selling this multi-faceted stability every day. We sell it with the expectation of a financial margin without which the industry would not be able to provide the stability the industry requires in the first place. And yes, the industry needs to evolve and embrace new technology, new risks and more efficient ways of working to name a few. But let’s not get completely carried away and lose focus on what is quite a simple value proposition – simplicity is always best.
Stability and simplicity are not traditionally sexy concepts. Right now, they are, and the value we assign to them is rightly skyrocketing as we crave the benefits they bring to our personal and professional lives. Aviation underwriters represent a great source of stability for our clients, and we would do well to remember this simple fact at times like this.
I was very keen to understand what my daughter had been doing at school on her first day. In truth, she told me and my wife very little. Did she like it? Were other children being nice to her? Was she intimidated or scared? Your mind naturally races when you want information about an unknown – you crave that stability and reassurance.
Finally, when she was tucked up in her bed that evening with her fluffy unicorn (clearly the teachers hadn’t covered mythical creatures on the first day) she asked me “Daddy, can I go back to big school tomorrow?” Somewhat relieved, I said, “of course you can!” She replied, “but I only want you and mummy to pick me up from school like today, okay?” I’m not entirely sure what she thought the other option was, but it was a simple request for some stability in her new world and of course, we will provide it.