Get to know OneAdvent

Simon Read

Director – Modus Underwriting

Time at OneAdvent

6 months

Responsible for

General oversight of the business strategy and performance is my main responsibility as MD of the Modus board. Day to day, within the Modus leadership team, I spend most of my time on the tech, analytics and operational aspects of the business.

What's the best thing about your job?

I think the satisfaction of delivering quality niche products to our broker customers that enhance their client offering is a feeling that’s hard to beat, but I genuinely enjoy every day, even the challenging ones!

What makes OneAdvent different?

Definitely the great team that I get to work alongside every day. It may be a cliché but it’s also true to say that I’m lucky enough to be working with some of my closest friends.

Summarise your career history...

I joined the insurance industry all the way back in 1988 with Commercial Union in Northampton as an office junior, before progressing through a variety of underwriting roles. From there, I was approached by an insurance broker to head up their wholesale/agency department which was acquired by Towergate five years later. During 11 years at Towergate, my proudest achievement was founding Towergate Commercial Underwriting in Colchester, and growing from a new start-up in 2006 to a £75m MGA business, specialising in electronic trading, by the time I left Towergate at the end of 2011. I then joined Arthur J Gallagher, along with Scott, and a number of other colleagues, to set up and establish their e-underwriting MGA division that now forms part of Pen Underwriting. In late 2014, Scott and I decided to leave Gallagher to pursue our dream of creating a truly different MGA – a proposition entirely focused on delivering niche insurance products to brokers through an automated, tech-driven solution, effectively making complex non-standard insurance every bit as easy to transact as vanilla risks. We decided to call the business Modus, from modus operandi, to reflect our view that the insurance industry needs to leave expensive legacy processes in the past and utilise modern technology better, even for the more complex underwriting and service propositions.

How do you spend your spare time?

After years of commuting, I moved into London three years ago at the age of 47, only to find that I wish I’d done it years earlier. So, most weekends, I can usually be found experiencing some random or quirky corner of London, and exploring its history. I also try to travel and experience other new places as often as I can, and I’m renowned for my skills in sourcing the cheapest flights and deals around for short breaks!

What is your most unusual hobby?

A flat in London isn’t the ideal location, so growing bonsai trees is probably both the most unusual and the most challenging hobby I have!

Most people don't know...

My first insurance role at Commercial Union was ‘arranged’ for me via a connection of my mother, who worked for Royal Insurance for most of her career. Since then, I’ve moved between companies I either know well or through acquisition, so both oddly and luckily, I’ve never actually formally applied for a job.