AXA UK and AXA XL leaders on collaborating to support mid-market brokers

June 19, 2024

At the end of last year, in a move designed to close the gap between the two distinct but complementary mid-market propositions offered by AXA XL and AXA UK, the former appointed Hannah Hosking (pictured right) as head of mid-market. Her new role sees Hosking lead the firm’s strategic move into the higher end of the mid-market segment, working in conjunction with Sarah Mallaby (pictured left), commercial distribution and trading director, and her team at AXA UK.

Working together to meet brokers where they need support

The 2024 BIBA Conference offered an ideal opportunity for the teams to assess how this expansion is resonating with brokers, with Hosking and Mallaby both highlighting how the joint proposition is being embraced across the market. AXA XL and AXA UK have been collaborating for a long time, Mallaby said, and the join-up is a natural extension of understanding how they can work even closer together to meet the requirements of brokers and their customers.

“It was when we did some analysis of [our respective] books that we realised that there was a gap between what our teams were offering in that £250 million up to £2 billion space,” she said. “The segmentation of AXA XL focusing on the higher end and AXA UK on the lower end had created that gap, which we spotted as an opportunity to shuffle our offering and find ways to work better together.”

What has also been great to see, she said, is how the enthusiasm of brokers for this enhanced offering is being mirrored within the teams themselves who are delighted to be attending broker meetings and packaging risks together, facing the market as ‘One AXA’. The teams are now working side by side in the same offices, which encourages a true partnership approach.

“What’s become really clear to our teams is that when they work together, they’re able to ensure a better proposition for our customers and our brokers,” Hosking said. “On top of that, we’re committed to keeping all lines of communication open between our teams because it’s by putting the right channels in place to facilitate conversation that you can resolve challenges quickly.”

Creating an energetic and aligned proposition

As the combined proposition has come together, the teams have welcomed about 60 new people who Hosking noted are bringing tangible energy and enthusiasm to the opportunity presented to offer one face to the mid-market segment. These new individuals are involved across the entire gamut of the customer journey, Mallaby said, and include salespeople, underwriters, managers, claims people and marketing proposition developers.

The investment from the wider business into this enhanced offering has been significant, she said, and it has been rewarding to see the innovative ideas sparking from the broad range of professionals being brought together to support the proposition. What this has meant, Hosking said, is that the teams have been empowered to offer exceptionally high levels of service and support to brokers from the get-go, rather than building the appetite and then hiring the team to support that.

“It would be counterproductive to build all these great broker relationships and attract new business, and then not be able to service it at renewal,” Mallaby said. “What we’re doing here is about steady organic growth so we’re able to maintain the high levels of service expected at sign-up. This is very much a permanent investment.”

Putting innovation at the heart of this collaboration

Mallaby and Hosking noted that product innovation is also at the forefront of this collaboration which empowers the teams to combine their market knowledge and resources. The move to a ‘One AXA’ approach means the organisation can offer a cradle-to-grave proposition across key areas including manufacturing and construction, Hosking said, which is quite unique to the market.

“In the short term, our focus is about really embedding our ‘One AXA’ proposition within the market to reach some of the clients we might have been missing, whether that’s with AXA XL or AXA UK,” Mallaby said. “That’s the focus for the next 6-12 months.

“Within AXA UK [specifically], we’re working towards expanding our cyber distribution in 2025, with  engineering and construction as the next product out of the stable. We already have an offering in these areas but we’re looking at growing those accounts going forward because we recognise that we’re quite underweight there.”

It’s a similar story for AXA XL, Hosking said, where a key area of focus will be on the construction market, though healthcare is also a priority for further growth. High on the agenda is looking to develop new relationships across the market, particularly with new broker partners. In the past, the AXA XL business has been largely focused on the national brokers, and now its expanded remit will seem them looking to expand that roster.

How brokers have reacted to the partnership

It’s still relatively early days in the expanded join-up between the businesses but Mallaby highlighted the tremendous reaction of brokers, from the major corporates to the larger regional players. They’ve now got enhanced access to the AXA XL proposition, she said, which is resonating strongly with them, and with the teams now firmly in their stride, she’s looking forward to exploring where this newly enhanced partnership with AXA XL goes next in the coming years.

“I think AXA is the only company across all our trading teams where we can provide cover from an individual’s personal lines, to a small direct customer, into an SME, into a mid-market, into a corporate,” she said. “And that’s covering their commercial needs, their healthcare needs, their employee benefits and everything else that they require. Our focus is on distributing as one team, which this relationship with AXA XL colleagues is accelerating.”