Rising Star Giles Harlow on His Career Beginnings and His Work in the Bermuda and London Markets
Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars, those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.
Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds throughout 2023.
Here, we spoke with Giles Harlow, managing director from Aon and a 2023 Specialty Power Broker.
Risk & Insurance: How did you get into the insurance industry? What do you like about working in your field?
Giles Harlow: Like many people, I fell into the industry. It really wasn’t an industry that I had much knowledge of growing up, and leaving university in 2009, immediately after the financial crisis, the somewhat recession-proof insurance industry was actively hiring.
Since joining, I have loved being part of this less-widely known industry. I have had multiple different roles in different classes of business since starting out in financial lines in London, from cyber in Bermuda and most recently IP backed lending.
R&I: How are employers attracting and retaining talent in this tight labor market?
GH: I think what we are doing is one of the most interesting and innovative parts of the industry right now, so attracting great talent has been relatively easy.
It has been finding the right talent at the confluence of insurance, lending and intangible assets that has been the difficult part.
We have assembled a great team [at Aon] over the past few years, however, and I think that everyone feels very lucky to be a part of this incredibly exciting journey.
R&I: How has working in both the London and Bermuda insurance markets helped you and your clients? Does it give you a multi-geographical perspective or knowledge?
GH: I naturally had a very London/Lloyds-centric view of the industry when I was working for Aon in London. It was also at the start of my career, so I hadn’t been exposed to as much of the industry as I have now.
Moving to Bermuda certainly expanded my view of the market with more of an appreciation on how both London and Bermuda markets fit as pieces of the puzzle into a broader, global marketplace. I do think this helps when it comes to placement of risk.
The U.S., London and Bermuda markets all offer something different, and whilst there is clearly crossover appetite, knowing how to leverage those markets to the greatest effect does drive an ultimately better outcome.
One of the best things Aon has done in our space is make our teams agnostic as to where premium is placed, so we truly win as a team whether we get the deal done in Bermuda, the U.S. or London. So, as well as having an appreciation for where risk better sits, we are able to act on that knowledge.
R&I: What are the biggest risks affecting your clients today (such as cybersecurity)?
GH: What we have been working on recently has been less about typical risk transfer, it is more about finding an arbitrage in the value of intangible assets and leveraging carrier balance sheets to unlock new capital solutions to companies looking for growth capital.
In this way, we can open up huge new premium opportunities for the insurance market, new lending opportunities for our clients and find non- or minimally dilutive capital for IP rich companies needing last-mile funding to get to free cash flow positive.
So, it’s less about downside risk and more about unlocking hitherto undervalued asset classes through a deep understanding of that asset class and an ability to put a value on it coupled with an insurance solution.
R&I: If you could travel back in time to deliver a message to yourself at the beginning of your career, what would you say?
GH: Focus on what the client needs, the markets can offer and always try and find something in the middle that both parties want and that you can bring together. &