With almost a year since Maggie Munns, Senior Commercial D&O Underwriter and recent Insurance Business UK Rising Star Award Winner, took on a new career challenge moving from New York to London, we talk about her early career progression, getting to grips with the London Market, building broker relationships, and the importance of giving back
What initially drew you to the insurance sector?
While perhaps it was more a case of discovering the insurance industry rather than actively seeking it out, I’m now adamant that it is perhaps one of the financial service industry’s best kept secrets. The sector offers a fantastic opportunity to apply a multidisciplinary background, demanding both strong analytical abilities and softer people skills. My academic background is in psychology and statistics and outside of university I had held several sales and consulting roles, so I could put all of these experiences to good use. Moreover, the overarching purpose of the sector is to underscore stability and enable progress, facilitating innovation by allowing individuals and businesses to take greater risks. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that kind of work?
You started your career at Arch in 2015. What was it about the company that attracted you?
From the first interview, there was a genuine sense of camaraderie and commitment at Arch. It was also clear that the team expected high standards from its employees with equally excellent tools in place to encourage people to take initiative and grow through a clear development path. Finally, there was a feeling of humility that came across, which I found pleasantly surprising in a corporate environment. The values of collaboration, support, and trust are part of the insurance market’s DNA, and I definitely felt that Arch offered me an opportunity to become part of a close-knit, supportive team. So, when I added all these factors together, I knew that I wanted to work at Arch.
It’s fair to say that you have had a pretty rapid raise through the underwriting ranks at Arch. What do you put that speed of progression down to?
A big part of my own progress has been the amazing teammates, mentors, and leaders that have surrounded me since “day one”. Many colleagues have been eager to share their time and experience, encouraging curiosity and challenging me at every stage. Arch also operates a very comprehensive training programme, which is very technical and detail oriented. This was fantastic for laying the groundwork that I’ve been able to build my career on.
Following the early years of my career, I’ve learned the importance of pairing seeking honest feedback with clearly expressing aspirations (no one can read your mind!). Also, I’m someone who is really energised by change, so embracing the inherent changes that happen through market cycles and any career progression is important. I’m always looking for the next challenge and want to be tested constantly. When I’m in a room where everyone is smarter than me, that absolutely drives me.
“I’m always looking for the next challenge and want to be tested constantly. When I’m in a room where everyone is smarter than me, that absolutely drives me.”Margaret munns, senior commercial d&O underwriter
You moved from Arch’s New York office to London in 2021. How easy has it been to make the shift?
There’s no doubt it’s been a whirlwind experience. The shift was not just moving to a new office, new city, and new market, but also coincided with returning to the office after our months of working from the comfort of home. Practically speaking, this meant meeting colleagues who were also meeting each other for nearly the first time in-person, too. I would add that those in the London Market have been incredibly welcoming. The market clearly lives up to its reputation for being relationship driven.
Arch has been incredibly supportive throughout the process too. With the shift, I’ve been taking every opportunity to learn from colleagues. For example, I’ve been working closely with the claims teams to get a better understanding of the litigation environment and legal landscape outside the United States, capitalising on the wealth of resources across Arch to get myself up to speed as quickly as possible. So, all in all, the move to London has gone quite smoothly.
One aspect that must help you quickly integrate into a new market environment is your aptitude for building strong broker relationships in a relatively short period of time. How do you achieve that level of trust so quickly?
Building and maintaining trust is crucial to the way the market operates – so you have to work at that from the beginning. For me, that starts with meeting face-to-face or picking up the phone. It’s about having those genuine, fair, and honest conversations with the broker. It’s about truly understanding their needs and tuning into the voice of the customer.
It’s then about asking the team: how can we deliver against those risk requirements and be thoughtful and creative in how we address them? Innovation is part of the market’s DNA and our aim at Arch is to devote the time, attention, and expertise to deliver informed solutions for our broker partners and their clients.
Of course, at times it is not always possible to underwrite every risk we see, so having strong and prompt communication with the broker is also essential for when you’re not able to put capital behind a particular risk – being open and transparent about the reasons for declining a risk is an important part of building trust with our brokers.
Given the current levels of competition in the sector, how would you say Arch looks to differentiate its offering in the market?
Arch is known for the breadth and depth of its underwriting expertise and consistently demonstrating a strong commitment to service, both of which help to set us apart in our competitive marketplace.
Our brokers recognise and appreciate our ability to leverage our expertise and experience to deliver the most appropriate solutions for our clients. When a broker partners with Arch, they work with the entire team so that we can create the most effective solution as quickly as possible. There is a real willingness within Arch to work collaboratively to get things done – and that is something that really stands out.
Coming back to your role at Arch, you also devote much of your time to supporting various groups and activities across the company, playing a proactive role in different employee network groups and participating in Lunch & Learn events. How important is this to you and why?
At Arch, it’s a privilege to work with such a diverse group of people and for a company that really invests in its talent right from the start. My career to date has been incredibly rewarding and I feel it’s important to give something back. The Women & Allies Network, for example, has enabled me to engage with amazing people across the company and help build and be part of a community within Arch which is passionate about personal development, focused on critical issues, and dedicated to giving something back to the broader community.
I also have a huge amount of gratitude for those people at Arch who have invested their time and energy into helping the development of my career. That’s why I’m so keen of development spaces like the Lunch & Learn sessions for our colleagues who are at the beginning of their careers. At Arch we have a culture in which people are always encouraged to be curious and never be afraid to ask questions – it’s about constantly learning.