Alistair Fraser-Hawkins is the Chief Executive Officer of the UK Corporate business at Marsh, which helps Middle Market clients with their risk and insurance needs.
“Marsh is the world's leading risk and insurance advisor and we work with clients across all segments of industry, all sizes of clients from the very smallest to the very largest, working with them to identify risk, understand what risk is involved in their business, and helping to design a risk management and insurance programme that satisfies their needs and allows them to transact their business,” says Fraser-Hawkins.
The company has been in business for 150 years and continues to respond to the world’s most pressing challenges. The recent pandemic was no exception.
“2020 was a year like no other,” admits Fraser-Hawkins. “For us it brought risk to the forefront of conversations with clients at boardroom level.
“Many companies now look at not just the risks they can see but at those intangible risks that perhaps historically we would have thought are very rare and would have limited impact. We've also seen that risk isn't just a local issue – it could be a global issue and organisations can be affected by risks across the world.”
Fraser-Hawkins believes the global lockdowns also helped further solidify Marsh as a “global family”.
He witnessed increased interaction across the globe in terms of how Marsh helped clients through the pandemic and equally a real shift in terms of their own ability to transact in a digital and virtual sense without dropping the level of service delivered to clients.
“Interestingly, I think it actually brought us closer together as a global business,” says Fraser-Hawkins. “The collaboration we see across geographies, across business units, was accelerated despite the fact that it was challenging for all of our colleagues across all the countries we operate in. It was a very challenging but pivotal year that sets us up for the next 150 years.”
Putting people first
Fraser-Hawkins talks at length about the people within the business. Marsh is, he says, a people business, which clients appoint for the insight and intellectual capital they bring.
The pandemic put a strain on everyone, but Fraser-Hawkins says he is proud of how his colleagues adapted to the situation.
“Our colleagues have been phenomenal throughout the pandemic,” he says. “Seeing them work from home and juggle challenges such as homeschooling, while continuing to look after our clients was inspiring. I think the hybrid model that we're adapting going forward means we have the ability to make better work-life choices and support all our colleagues in creating powerful working environments.”
Fraser-Hawkins says that Marsh’s digital transformation journey was already advanced but wouldn't have accelerated further quite as quickly as it did were it not for COVID-19 – a familiar message we hear from many large organisations who had the foresight to implement digital.
Marsh is a global business that had crisis plans in place should teams need to move to work from home. Most Marsh employees had the technology at hand already to do just that, as well as the processes and procedures for a seamless transition.
“I think it was a very positive experience,” says Fraser-Hawkins. “We've learned some brilliant things. That being said, the office is still very important to us, so the hybrid solution sets us up for a great future.”
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“Whether it's a threat intelligence platform or an analytics platform – using that to strengthen one of the key principles and ultimately accelerating response detection and mitigation – it is key.”