Q: Last year, the record-breaking attendance you had atNAPSLO's annual conference in San Diego seemed to set the tone thatbusiness was gathering steam again, and the sentiment among thosewe spoke with seemed to be that “This is a good time to be inExcess & Surplus lines.” What are you seeing and hearing, andhow would you characterize the state of the industry?

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All of the numbers are up: Attendance here has again increasedthis year; A.M. Best's report is out, indicating continued growthin surplus lines premium; we see continued strength in surpluslines ratings … things are on the rise. We see continued growth in2014 surplus lines premium, and the stats reported by stampingoffices also has been very favorable. I continue to see theoptimism, hear the positive comments about the industry—and it'sstill a very good business to be in.

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Q: It would seem that one of the greatest challenges forthe wholesale/surplus lines industry today is to effectivelycommunicate to the retail community as well as the buyer the valuethat the wholesale broker brings to the transaction. How do youaccomplish that, both as an organization and at the brokerlevel?

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At the organizational level, we'vereinvigorated our wholesale value messaging campaign. Last year wechanged our logo and we introduced a new tag line when describingwhat our members do, “Where complex risk meets innovativesolutions.”

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We're leveraging all of that in editorial stories, our printadvertising and our online advertising to emphasize that these areexpert brokers. Expert underwriters. They innovate and create newproducts. They are skilled at creating highly tailored solutions tosome of the most non-standard insurance risks. They sell specialtysolutions. It's different than the standard, off-the-shelfform-approved policy. The people here [at the conference] arecoming up with innovative solutions to unique needs. High risks,high-capacity needs—they're the ones who are solving thoseproblems.

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So that's what we're doing organizationally,and the good news for our brokers from us is, they can carry thatmessage forward when they're talking with their retailers.

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Our message is strong, and that's something our brokers canleverage in telling their story to their clients.

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Q: Another consideration is the abundant amount ofcapacity in the industry, and some suggest that capital couldconceivably be used in a way that satisfies the desires of itsowners without marginalizing the business that is currently outthere. I'm curious as to your thoughts on that.

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You have some people who are concerned with capacity, and manywho aren't. More capital means more opportunity—more opportunity toinnovate and create new products, and it certainly doesn't seem toimpact our members' ability to operate successfully. It's anexciting thing, not a concerning thing.

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Q: NAPSLO's Next Generation initiative is, formy money, the bleeding edge in attracting and cultivating youngtalent in a way that other organizations would envy. How does theE&S industry differ in that respect, in attracting young peopleto sell insurance solutions that aren't of the standardilk?

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That's the exciting part of it. Telling the story of theinsurance industry to students by people who have been in thisbusiness for years, what opportunities came to light for them,explaining to them how they got into it and sharing with them theexciting things they get to do—it lights them up. It's something[young people] become very interested in doing. The challengingpart is just getting our members into the classroom andcoordinating that. The easy part is, once students get a chance tohear the stories, they're calling and they want to know more.That's the exciting part for us.

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Shawn Moynihan

Shawn Moynihan is Editor-in-Chief of National Underwriter Property & Casualty. A St. John’s University alum, Moynihan has earned 11 Jesse H. Neal Awards, the Pulitzers of the business press; seven Azbee Awards, from the American Society of Business Press Editors; two Folio Awards; and a SABEW award, from the Society of American Business Editors & Writers. Prior to joining ALM, he served as Managing Editor/Online Editor of journalism institution Editor & Publisher, the trade bible of the newspaper industry. Moynihan also has held editorial positions with AOL, Metro New York, and Newhouse Newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].