“The insurance was great and all, but to be brutally honest, I was making $12,500 a year at the time,” Falvey said.
“My classmates were coming back from the sea with $75,000 a year and they had the next four months off, paid vacation, so I was like ‘hmm, something’s not right here.'”
The solution was simple: Falvey, a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, went to sea with the US Military SeaLift Command, sailing as First Engineer. assistant.
It was a path that took him to London, where, from 1983 to 1984, he served as liaison officer for the Auxiliary Royal Fleet, shortly after the 1982 Falkland Islands War which saw Britain and Argentina locked in a dispute. fierce and deadly.
It was family, or rather the love of a woman and her response to his proposal, that set in motion Falvey’s return to insurance.
“She said ‘yes,’ we got married, so she didn’t want to go back to sea,” Falvey said. Rather than seek to stretch her sea legs again, she eventually returned to Rhode Island, joining Donald J Rojas in 1984where he laid the foundation for a long-lasting relationship with Lloyd’s.
“It was essentially a cargo underwriter and we specialized in high tech — Hewlett Packard, Intel, was writing a lot of that, and we started writing life sciences businesses,” Falvey said.
“I worked with Don for about 12 years, and then he decided to sell the company to someone else, so I started Falvey Cargo Underwriting in 1995.”
building the business
Perhaps appropriately, given his ties to London and his experience in the navy, the business Falvey now runs can claim to be the largest holder of cargo cover notes at Lloyd’s today. As of 2023, the family-owned Falvey Insurance Group includes four MGA businesses, offering ship pollution, transportation and logistics liability, ocean freight and inventory yield, and comprehensive shippers interest insurance, in addition to the wholesale division that was launched last year.
In the early days, however, the focus remained largely on high-tech and life sciences companies, and Falvey worked with some of the biggest names in technology (from Amazon, then a bookstore, to Google ) when companies were still at their peak. childhood during the dot com boom days.
“I really focused on that and we continued to grow — we added a few more subscribers, we opened an office in San Francisco, because most of our business was in San Francisco at the time in Silicon Valley, and then my mantra was, ‘if we’re going to to be technology, we need to be in Asia.’”
Prioritize technical profitability
The group has 27 years of “nearly constant profit” for its subscribers, something Falvey said he believes is one of his biggest achievements along with the group’s continued growth, but it hasn’t always been entirely smooth sailing, and Falvey has taken big decisions in prioritizing technical profitability, including the closure of the group’s Asian operations.
“Falvey’s mission is to make money for our subscribers, and after five years, I’ve never made money for our subscribers in Asia, so we closed that down and then continue to grow,” Falvey said.
In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the Caribbean (combined industry insured losses from the two storms, including in the US from charter yachts in the region, according to the CEO.
“Irma and Maria came in and killed it all and it was = a very tough business class before that,” Falvey said.
“We continued to get support, but I looked at it and said, ‘we’re not going to make money, we’re just not going to make it, we’re against the wind in what we’re doing there,’ so I closed that, but in cargo and everything else, we’ve I kept making money.”
Looking to the future
With underwriting profitability firmly at the top of Falvey’s priority list, agents shouldn’t expect the business to stray too far out of its comfort zone: “you won’t see us underwriting D&O or anything like that, we’ll stay.” . to our niche,” Falvey said, but he is poised for further expansion within his area of expertise in 2023.
It has worked to keep up with the times in terms of technology, and Falvey estimated that the group has about 18 programmers on its staff.
“I’ve been passionate about the technology – we have our own proprietary system, we’re big on it,” Falvey said.
“Everyone who knows me knows we’re big on tech and data, but it’s still a relationship business, and you can’t lose sight of that.”
The CEO hasn’t stopped expanding his own horizons, graduating in 2020 from Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program, where he further cemented his views on culture.
“There was a lot of talk about strategy there, and you have all of that and culture,” Falvey said.
“One of the things that interest me a lot is culture; culture eats strategy for breakfast every day, I’m a firm believer of that.”
As for what he hopes will be his next big thing, Falvey said: “We’ve been growing around 30% a year for the last four or five years, so we’re going to keep growing, building on that.” and do more of that, and we have a company that is built enough for it to continue.”
Mike Falvey, CEO and President of Falvey Insurance Group, on:
The modernization of Lloyd’s as a turning point…
“Lloyd’s has changed so drastically: the use of technology now and the speed at which things are done [done]. I’m sure my friends at the market will say, ‘oh, it’s still moving a little slow,’ but when you look back at where I was, with everyone sitting in the box, and the way people were progressing, they would sit at the end of the box and photocopy. I have friends and that’s what they did for two years, and finally they were able to get up on their seats and write in the book. And then they would continue to move a little bit more and be involved in conversations and then 10 years later they would finally be making decisions.”
The return of the personal touch…
“The personal touch will come back a bit more. I think there are some brokers who enjoy not having to deal with underwriters, [and those brokers might be thinking]: ‘I just send an email and then I get 10 quotes, right?’
“One of the things I have warned them is: be careful what you wish for, because if your job is just to send an email to 10 markets and get a response, someone in the US can access London that way. , or we can get a computer to access the markets that way. You still need to do that and have that personal touch.”
His main advice…
“Do the right thing. We all know what it is, right? We all try to take shortcuts sometimes. When something comes our way, we intuitively know what the right thing to do is. [It’s about] just have the courage to do the right thing, and then everything will work out. Do the right thing, trust yourself and it will be good.”
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