Lloyd’s broker MNK Re launches new European subsidiary with ex-AIG chief
Lloyd's broker MNK Re eyes major opportunities in African market with key hire
International broker MNK Re likes to stand out from the crowd rather than follow it, especially when it comes to finding business opportunities, says Manoj Kumar, group CEO and managing director.
When an industry leader boldly claims to have “never knowingly or willingly refused a physical meeting” throughout his lifetime, it follows that the same leader might also take a less than orthodox approach to business.
This assumption is borne out when Manoj Kumar, group chief and managing director of growing independent broker MNK Re, says his business model is based on going into a business space when others are withdrawing, particularly in terms of capacity.
“We always look for the place where there is less of a crowd,” he tells Intelligent Insurer.
No risk is a bad risk
Kumar, who founded the international broker in 2009, says: “Our scope, the lines of business that we do, is pretty wide. While focusing on speciality, we encompass practically everything.”
But within this seemingly broad church of specialty business, is a deliberately specific, some might say contrarian, strategy based on realising opportunity in lines of business or markets where others are withdrawing.
“As long as it is a pure risk, it is insurable and there’s a price.” Manoj Kumar, MNK ReKumar says: “We believe that as long as the risk is robust, there is a price. From my point of view, no risk is a bad risk. As long as it’s priced correctly, it can be written and it should be written. You just have to champion it.”
Take property, for example. Kumar states that while it’s a pretty standard line for most players in the industry, within this line MNK Re tends to deal with risks which would typically be excluded or sub-line.
“A lot of people will say: ‘We don’t write standard on warehouse.’ Some say: ‘We don’t write for flood-prone.’ We see the scope there because you can proceed as long as it is a pure risk, meaning there is no business angle to it, and there is no speculation involved.
“Either there is a claim or there is no claim. As long as it is a pure risk, it is insurable and there’s a price.”
He caveats this saying that it depends on how you proceed with this risk, how the modelling is done, and how you are able to explain it to the underwriter. But he’s clear it’s within its bailiwick.
Elaborating on why he never refuses an in-person meeting, Kumar says it’s because “he always learns something” in terms of knowledge or information. “I try to learn every day from everyone that I interact with.”
This open mindset, combined with a strategic commitment to innovation and creativity, has served the company well, seeing it expand substantially since its inception nearly 15 years ago.
Growth appears to have ramped up in recent years and Kumar says the broker’s journey has been “quite interesting, particularly during COVID-19”. He describes the pandemic as a “catalyst” for the industry to truly acknowledge the value of innovation and creativity, which has played to the firm’s strengths.
In October 2021, MNK Re launched its UK Specialty business, followed by a push for new business in Africa in November that year.
“We increased the number of people within the group and we also acquired a few international offices,” he says.
The London-headquartered operator now counts offices in South Africa, Kenya, Dubai, and Miami in the US, which supports its business in Latin America. It opened a new office in Poland in February this year and is holding ongoing talks to acquire businesses in Latin America, with ambitions to open offices in the Far East.
Diamond in the rough
In terms of strategy, Kumar spies opportunities where others are pulling out capacity. He points to the lines of political violence and cyber as examples.
“Until the beginning of last year, probably when the war in Ukraine started (February 2022), the political violence line had become a commodity. Everyone wanted to do it, so there is excess capacity. You only win the business because you’re giving cheaper pricing. That’s not the area we want to deal in,” he says.
However, in the past nine months there has been a trend where some of the markets have seen capacity being withdrawn and the prices have increased at least twofold, he adds.
“Every renewal is going for the increase, and that’s a space we get interested in.”
Kumar says that a lot of brokers cut down their brokerage if they can’t compete or can’t get the price reduced. But MNK Re is different.
“We come into the space to support the market. We work hard again to bring in capacities where supply is short.”
With cyber, the increase in attacks over the past two or three years has caused certain large syndicates to pull out of this line, he says, leading to “a distinct lack of capacity”. This piqued the broker’s interest and in response it has developed products where MNK Re has capacity.
Kumar adds: “We are very good at product and sometimes I pride myself on calling us a product factory.”
In conclusion he says: “We don’t follow who is doing what, you have to create your own model. The world is big and there’s plenty of opportunity. You have to look at it.
“We create our own space, and that’s how we try to grow.”
MNK Re, Brokerage, Manoj Kumar, Risks, Strategy, Opportunity, Growth, Political violence, Cyber, Trends, Innovation, Insurance, Reinsurance, Global