Get to know Ramesh Singh, Underwriting Director for Financial Lines UK
In early December, we welcomed Ramesh Singh to our GCS senior leadership team as Director of Underwriting for Financial Lines UK. We caught up with him to find out a bit more about his career and what made him want to be part of Aviva.
Ramesh, it would be great to hear about your career so far. Have you always worked in insurance, or have you had more of a ‘squiggly’ career?
Actually, I started my university career in engineering. I did two years of civil engineering and decided it wasn’t for me and moved across to commerce where I did a dual major in economics and marketing, so that put me into that finance circle, alongside my brother and sister who were in banking at the time.
Not unlike many of us, I fell into the insurance space when I landed a role at Chubb in Financial Institutions, so I’ve been in corporate insurance for around 25 years. In that time, I’ve been involved and overseen both Financial and Specialty lines including PI, Management Liability, Cyber, Tech, M&A, Operational Risk and Healthcare. My bread and butter though, was Financial Institutions – that’s where I started back in Australia.
Location-wise, I’ve had the opportunity to work in Sydney, Melbourne, and moved to London in 2007. Throughout my career I’ve overseen ten different countries, so have had a big geographical footprint. I’ve also worked across a number of international carriers – moving from Chubb to AIG, AXA XL, CNA Hardy, and now more recently, Aviva.
If we reflect back on 2023, what has been your proudest moment or a particular highlight for you?
2023 was an interesting year for me, a ‘transition’ career-wise. Earlier in the year I really sat back and reflected on what I wanted to do with my career over the next number of years. It’s important to do that because you can get so caught up in the day-to-day and what’s happening in the business, that you don’t tend to think about the longer-term vision, or where you see yourself heading.
I decided I wanted to pursue a role in a company where I was more aligned to the culture, and able to influence it, and that would better support my ambitions. That was my proudest moment: taking the time to think about my aspirations and seeking out a role that would align to my values and ideals.
What was your perception of Aviva before you joined and what was it that made you want to work with us?
My perception of Aviva was that it’s a really strong brand and a market leader in several spaces already. It was actually a former colleague of mine who I’ve always respected and is currently at Aviva who sent me the vacancy and said “Ramesh, I think you’d be a great fit for this role, and you’d enjoy the culture here.” So having gone through that thought process at the start of the year and then having someone else comment on the culture, it felt like everything was falling into place really. Then the energy and ambition that I experienced during my subsequent engagement with Aviva really showcased to me where they want to take the business over the next few years - so I thought yes, this is the place for me.
You’re only a few weeks into your role but can you tell us about any key focuses for Financial Lines this year? And do you see any changes in the market that might influence these?
When I look to 2024, there’s an incredible opportunity to capitalise and further build the Financial Lines brand at Aviva. We have a very strong underlying portfolio and skill set here already but I think we’ve got the chance to grow and develop the management team and structure. We have great talent here and ambitious growth plans, so we can definitely continue to build out that bench-strength. It also comes back to the strength of the brand – I’d like to explore more thought-leadership opportunities, and to really develop that strong proposition to market for our brokers and clients.
Regarding market developments, we’re monitoring softening in certain product spaces as well as some of the uncertainties and challenges that will affect our business objectives. But we need to remain very focussed on our underwriting appetite and pursue opportunities to contribute to the portfolio mix as market conditions change.
What success would you like 2024 to bring to you and the team?
I think this time next year, Aviva Financial Lines will be further strengthened with a consistent, recognised underwriter and leadership team. This is something we’re working on already, so I see that becoming established as we move forward throughout 2024.
We’ll have a clear vision on where our business is heading and the strategies that will help us get there, both internally and externally. I think we’ll be innovative throughout the year, looking for new opportunities to develop and will be a ‘go-to’ for market solutions.
The majority of our business in Financial Lines is long-tail so we want to provide that confidence to our clients and brokers about those long-term relationships and objectives. One of the draw cards for me joining Aviva was the ongoing commitment to Financial Lines and the great potential we have. It’s important the market knows we are in it for the long-term – I think that will be a really strong message to end 2024 with.
Any interesting fact about yourself that people might not know?
During my teenage years, I actually grew up on a large acre farm. My parents decided they would move from a residential suburban house to a working farm and at one point we had 60 cattle! So we all mucked in drenching, feeding them and delivering calves. There was also a bit of barbed wire fencing and learning to use heavy machinery. Not a lot of that in my day-to-day now, but it was really character-building for me at the time, and I have a lot of fun and cherished memories growing up there.
Finally, you wake up one Sunday with no plans. What does your ideal day look like?
I have to admit that waking up on a Sunday with no plans is a rarity! But assuming it’s a sunny day, my wife and I would take a drive in a classic car out to a nice coastal or country location followed by a pub roast. And if there’s any time left, we’d entertain some friends and cook dinner!
Take a look at our journey so far and the developments we have on the horizon for 2024.