Abbie Smart

keeping things moving

90 percent of global trade is carried by sea; from huge space rockets to the latest Christmas toy trend it has probably been put on a ship and travelled across the world. This means it is at risk of damage on the journey or even in extreme cases destruction, meaning a loss of income for the seller of the goods.

Abbie is a broker at WTW working with shipping companies to make sure that should the worst happen, there is financial compensation for any losses. Whether it is transporting satellites in one piece, keeping vaccines at the right temperature or avoiding soybeans catching fire, the sheer variety of what she deals with is what makes her job exciting. A biomedical graduate from Warwick University, she had considered a career as a scientist but felt lab work would not be fast paced enough. Through the Debut app, she saw an internship for WTW and decided to apply. “I had no business background or knowledge of finance, but I liked what I read about the people, the business and its ethics, so decided to apply”.

Fast forward three years and Abbie has just completed her graduate programme and is working in the Cargo team full time. “The insurance industry does a tremendous amount of social good. As part of my graduate programme, I was looking a climate change and trying to model the effects of changes in weather patterns. Then with the pandemic the shipment of vaccines was very vital in helping to protect populations. Yes, this is financial services, but it’s really about things that really touch peoples’ lives”.

The sheer variety of cargoes that Abbie is involved with provides a great opportunity to learn new things and means that every day is different. “It was really daunting when I started because of the sheer range of things I get asked about. Who knew the soybeans can catch fire? But it is also very exciting because  even as you get experience in one area, because the world is always changing something new comes along. So, the war in Ukraine has meant a huge rise in grain prices – that means the value of what is in a ship goes up and insurance gets more expensive. So suddenly you are thinking about politics and its impact”.

Abbie loves the buzz of the City and the fact that in the London insurance market so much is about relationships with other market participants. “You don’t find the community in other financial services, I love the fact that everyone works in the same postcode and you bump into people you know all the time.”