Matthew Waters Is AXA XL’s Zen Master in Improving the Middle Market

A Zen-like approach to the middle market is AXA XL’s Matthew Waters’ leadership strategy.
By: | November 14, 2022

Three months into his new post, Matthew Waters is taking a generalist approach to building a middle-market business.

“A lot of carriers are looking to specific sectors of the economy or geography or risk profile,” he said. “But I am trying to move the conversation away from specific sectors. It’s important to be comfortable building a portfolio that has a range of industries, geographies and risks.”

That might sound a little Zen — let the markets come and the growth opportunities will reveal themselves — but Waters insists he is being practical.

“In the middle market, we see 10,000 submissions a year. One of my objectives is to apply data analytics to help build the portfolio. If we approach that without targeting pre-determined sectors or geographies, we are going to uncover the differentiators.”

The near-term goal for Waters is having his leadership group in place by the end of the first quarter of next year, and he stated that his program does not have any specific premium goal, at least for 2023.

Waters joined AXA XL in July from Liberty Mutual, bringing more than 20 years of middle-market underwriting management experience and leadership across various property and casualty segments. He most recently served as executive vice president and general manager for Liberty’s middle-market operations.

“I left a well-established business with safety and security and took a risk to build something new,” he said.

The parameters of the middle market are $150,000 to $1.5 million in all-lines premium, a fairly standard definition, according to Waters.
The core five lines are workers’ compensation, general liability, auto liability, lead umbrella and property. Insureds tend to have revenue of $100 million to $1 billion.

“In the middle market, insurance buyers need support in getting as much capacity as they can,” Waters explained. “They need to work with underwriters that know all five core lines and also can handle non-core lines such as cyber and multinational operations.”

If that seems daunting, Waters knows he has allies. “Brokers and agents love being part of the process.”

There’s that Zen again: Let the brokers and the agents do what they like to do, present and advocate for their clients, work with underwriters to balance risk transfer and retention.

“There are already segments that are starting to show themselves as promising,” said Waters. “Those are a wide-ranging as financial institutions, technology companies, and private equity.” &

Matthew Waters has been selected as a 2023 Risk & Insurance® Executive to Watch. To see the other executives selected this year, visit here.

Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist currently based in New York with 25 years’ experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected].

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