A syndicated loans market veteran, Richard joined Miller’s credit and political risks team in 2019. We caught up with him on his banking career, what he’s observed so far and why he believes credit insurance is a good choice for financial institutions.
Tell us a bit about your experience in the banking world.
After studying Modern History at Oxford University I joined Barclays in 1983, working in various London branches and then as a Credit Analyst in the City of London office. After stints in Hong Kong and New York, I returned to London to work in the specialist banking and acquisition financing team (later branded Barclays Capital). In 1998, I joined Bayerische Landesbank as Head of Origination, focusing on UK and Irish corporate and institutional clients and then in 2002 moved to Danske Bank in London covering UK, Northern European and Nordic clients and became Global Head of Loan Syndications the following year.
What brought you over to insurance?
After over 30 years of working for great banks and with brilliant people, joining Miller in 2019 gave me the opportunity to work with a range of banks, helping them to understand and maximise the many benefits that credit risk insurance can bring to their commercial relationships and operations.
How would you compare insurance and banking?
The first thing that struck me was how markedly similar the process of syndicating an insurance placement is to syndicating transactional risk. Equally, insurance and banking are businesses where trust and honest disclosure are very important, are both long-term rather than purely transactional and are truly international in outlook. I’ve found that like banking, insurance is a cyclical industry where relationships are strengthened by working with individuals through both good times and challenging times.
Are there any differences?
One major difference is that in the banking world, if a Relationship Manager likes a particular counterparty they often maximise all opportunities to lend to them. A credit risk insurer, on the other hand, adopts a commercial approach alongside focusing on the benefits of a balanced portfolio, taking care not to concentrate excessive risk on any single counterparty.
From personal experience, some of the most challenging situations have arisen where the bank feels it has an unparalleled understanding of the client and overexposes itself by lending more without sharing its risk. Sharing risk via credit risk insurance provides a “sense check” on transactional activity by contributing to a balanced portfolio whilst also freeing up the bank’s capacity to stretch its lending approach across a broader range of transactions for their most prized clients.
How do you think banks can benefit from credit risk insurance?
Credit risk insurance allows banks to increase their lending capacity by sharing the transactional risk with highly-rated insurers. This gives banks additional flexibility to respond positively to their clients’ lending requirements, whilst also supporting their own business decisions about how to manage overall credit and capital. It is a confidential and undisclosed form of risk transfer that allows banks to support and maintain their valued long-term client relationships.
Focusing more on the current environment, since the outbreak of Covid-19 banks naturally want and need to support their clients, stakeholders and communities to show that lessons have been learned since the 2008 financial crisis. Credit risk insurance is a dynamic product that every bank should have in their risk management “toolbox” to assist with this.
That being said, we are mindful that for those banks who don’t yet use credit risk insurance, there is an initial hurdle of providing education and advocacy to get the product internally on-boarded. As experts in structuring and placing credit risk insurance, the Miller team is well positioned to assist banks in this process in order to unlock the benefits of this product.
Do get in touch with myself or any of the team should you wish to know more.