Louis van der Lande

Underwriting – graduate trainee, Chaucer London

It’s perhaps appropriate that our coffee was virtual with Louis since he started his  career working from home in the middle of the pandemic. Just back from a holiday climbing Ben Nevis, I am taking the opportunity to catch up before he gets busy again.

What did you want to be at school?

I actually wanted to be a banker, but when I graduated I had some friends who went into banking and they just didn’t seem to enjoy it. What they did seemed entirely data rather than relationship driven, and they did not seem to have much of a work life balance. My first job was actually in public affairs (which made sense with a politics degree) but it was not for me so I left that job and went to live in Seville in Spain for a year.

Why did you choose a career in the London Insurance Market?

When I returned from Spain, I spoke to a couple of my friends from university – one a broker and one an underwriter in the London Market and they were both loving their jobs.  I was fortunate enough to get some work experience with Aviva and enjoyed working in their renewable energy and cyber teams so started applying both for internships and graduate programmes in London. This was just before pandemic in 2020 so it was tough finding jobs, let alone applying for them. Eventually I was successful and completed a short internship with Convex, then joined the graduate training scheme here at Chaucer (a Lloyd’s syndicate) in September 2020. 

How does the graduate programme work?

We do six-month rotations supporting the underwriters in the different sectors. My first two rotations were with the Cyber and Energy teams. You learn primarily on the job, although I am also studying for my Chartered Institute of Insurance examinations.

I work to help the underwriters to decide how much to charge for insuring a particular risk. This involves getting the details from the brokers and completing high level overviews which I then discuss with underwriters.  Depending how the day goes, we might meet a broker to discuss a risk or new business opportunities. I have been lucky enough to work in small underwriting teams supporting just one or two underwriters so have got involved in the whole process quite quickly and learned a lot.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people. I like the fact that building relationships with people both within and outside of Chaucer is such an important part of your role from the very beginning.

What skills do you need to do your job?

There’s. definitely a technical aspect to the job. You need to be comfortable dealing with large data sets.  Being comfortable using all the functions in Excel spreadsheets e.g pivot tables is very helpful too but also you have to be good dealing with people.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I would love to be an underwriter in one of the other international insurance hubs such as Bermuda or Singapore.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to join the London Market

Build up your CV. I had been involved in lots of things at university and also had work experience so I had lots of examples of how I had the skills that the  London Market were looking for when it came to interview. Also be as open minded as you can and think laterally. And apply, apply, apply! The first step through the door into the market is the hardest but once you are in there are lots of opportunities.

Fun fact about you

When I went to Spain I did not know one word of Spanish but I survived, had a great time and now speak Spanish very fluently so maybe Miami should  be the international insurance hub I should aim for in five years!

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