The 2021 Executives to Watch: QBE North America’s Tom Fitzgerald

Tom Fitzgerald took on the role of president, specialty & commercial at QBE North America in February 2020 — a particularly challenging time to take those reins.
By: | November 4, 2020

Tom Fitzgerald was appointed president, specialty & commercial, QBE North America in February 2020, after having served most recently as chief executive officer of Aon Risk Solutions’ global broking operations. It was a particularly challenging time to take those reins.

The COVID pandemic presented a number of challenges, including the massive numbers of employees now working from home and changes in how clients’ customers do business, as well as the longer-term impacts on the economy.

Other challenges stem from an already-hardening market, which hasn’t been seen in two decades.

“There’s a lot of people out there who have never experienced a firming market,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald’s client-centric background in broking serves him well in this environment. “Our focus has been around serving client needs and working very diligently with our limited and preferred distribution strategy,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re pushing our teams really, really hard to be creative, to be agile and be present.”

Fitzgerald sees QBE as particularly well-situated to confront these challenges. “We have a smaller team in comparison to some of our competitors and really what it boils down to is hustle.”
And all this disruption can have upsides, as well.

“We have more opportunities today than ever before,” Fitzgerald said. “And we are trying to find those unique opportunities where customers match the philosophy and the DNA of QBE from a risk perspective.”

Fitzgerald sees particular opportunities in areas where QBE has expert teams in place, like accident and health, aviation, as well as financial lines and public D&O. He hopes to help grow QBE’s middle market retail property/casualty business five-fold over the next three years.

Of course, these opportunities bring challenges of their own, as well.

“It really boils down to our people,” Fitzgerald said. “How do we build a team of insurance professionals that can engage day in, day out in a highly thoughtful way with our trading partners in an effort to solve those clients’ needs?”

Fortunately, Fitzgerald is optimistic about that: “We have a lot of people who want to work here, who currently don’t,” he said, “so our pipeline is quite robust.”

And he is determined to embrace growth in a way that is smart, steady and intentional.

“We have so many opportunities to put our foot on the gas, but really, for me, it’s about setting the strategy and driving a consistent talk track and philosophy around being in the business, being committed to that strategy, and ultimately executing against that over time.”

Fitzgerald sees that level of consistency as essential to delivering clients the service they deserve. “We always want to be looking toward the future,” Fitzgerald said. “But, we also want to be that boring insurance company that has all the capabilities to satisfy client needs, without evolving every 12 months.” &

For the full list of Insurance Executives to Watch in 2021, view here.

Jon McGoran is a magazine editor based outside of Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected].

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