Podcast: Alliant Introduces David Heath - The Structure of the Insurance Industry & Trends in the Power Sector
Rob Bothwell and Derek Whipple welcome David Heath to the Alliant Power Team and discuss the changes in the structure of the insurance industry and the benefits of a privately owned company, as well as current trends in the Power space.
You're listening to the Alliant Specialty Podcast, dedicated to insurance and risk management solutions and trends shaping the market today.
Rob Bothwell (00:09):
Welcome back to another Alliant Specialty Podcast. I'm Rob Bothwell, the Managing Director of the Alliant Power Team. With me today is my co-host, Derek Whipple, as well as the newest member of our Alliant Power Team, David Heath.
David Heath (00:22):
Yeah, thanks Rob, thanks Derek, and thank you for having me. It's good to be here, working with yourselves and the Power team.
Derek Whipple (00:28):
So, David, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background, if you would.
David Heath (00:31):
Well, my background, as you’ve probably guessed, I didn't grow up here in the US. But, I've lived here for over 30 years now and had the privilege of living in some fabulous cities. A majority of my time's been spent in New York and San Francisco. I've had the privilege of working with a broad array of customers in the Power and Energy space, ranging from some of the largest firms, household names, to investor-owned utilities, to cooperatives and IPPs, privately held companies and so forth. So, a broad array of experience there, and it's fascinating, I think how over the course of time, you know, we learn an awful lot from our clients, right? And applying solutions and challenges, and solutions to challenges from one client, turning them upside down and applying them to another. As far as why did I join, well, that started by connecting with Derek, who I'd known from a long while ago. We worked together in California, and he introduced me to you, Rob, and gradually as I took each step along this road, it reaffirmed why I should have taken that step and why I should take the next step. And I'm very pleased that I did.
Derek Whipple (01:34):
And another quick question for you, David, is, obviously, you and I have been at this a while and certainly been in the business a long time, and you've had a very successful career at your former employer, et cetera. You know, why the move, why'd you come to Alliant?
David Heath (01:46):
I'm going to give the blend of sort of pre and post joining comments, but as I encountered this journey, I thought the best way to do it is to put myself in the customers shoes and say: Let's answer the question, why would a buyer entrust Alliant with the privilege of representing them? Because surely, if we can answer that question in the positive, the doors of success will open. And so that was the sort of the attitude, if you will, that I took to it. And along the way, there were a couple of milestones. I spoke with various folks in the market, and in quite an eye-opening manner, the strength of their opinions, to the team that you've built, Rob, was impressive, to say the least. But, as I had these conversations, it became apparent that there could be quite an exciting opportunity here at Alliant.
And the growth and the investment that they've put into people and the commitments of customers and the length of time that you've had, your customer base is all quite unparallel. So, with that as a milestone and what I think is really interesting as I look back on that now, having been here a few months myself and met so many more people, everyone has their own journey as to how they got here. But they all resonate in the same sort of manner. It's all about people, it's about passion, it’s rooted in the harder we work, the luckier that we get an enthusiasm to embrace challenge. And I think all that passion, once that's unlocked, which it clearly is, brings just a very different value proposition to buyers as to what our commitment is, right? Because we're born with two ears and one mouth, and it's pretty important that we know how to use those things, right?
There's a reason we got two ears and one mouth, and it's rooted in listening. And we do that not only obviously with customers, but we do it by listening to each other as well. And as I describe to other folks about our internal conversations, I capture it as being like a group of grownups sitting around a table, having a conversation, and figuring out a challenge. And you need a certain maturity to be able to do that, to be able to understand and absorb other people's perhaps criticisms or challenges or different thought process. But all of this team that you've built, Rob with you and your colleagues, it brings a very broad diversity of thought, and that's got a real value to it. I think that's very important. So, all of those things were apparent to me as I was beginning my journey, and they've become even more apparent as I've spent a few months with you all.
Rob Bothwell (04:23):
Thanks, David, that's fantastic. I think during your process of joining Alliant, there were a lot of things that we discussed. What I found very interesting was the amount of new things and creative ideas that you had that we could bring to our client base, as well as new clients that would join us. So maybe take a few minutes, talk about some of those ideas and those creative thoughts and plans that you hope to bring to our team.
David Heath (04:48):
That's the fun part, right? It's unraveling the challenge and we've all done that for a long while. I think what part is interesting about this team, is it's a really good spread of experience level. And I don't mean good experience versus bad experience, I just mean years of experience. There's an impressive thread amongst that, and that's important for a couple of reasons. One is that we need younger folks in to be trained so that they can go and do good things for customers, and I also think that sort of, as it were, youthful enthusiasm, it's important for all of us, right? To keep it fresh and make sure that we are challenged, and this team isn't shy about challenging each other in issues.
Derek Whipple (05:29):
So let me ask you this. One of the things that you and I have talked about in the past a fair bit is sort of around our private ownership and structure of the organization as a whole. And wondering if you can maybe just share some of your thoughts on that, as well.
David Heath (05:45):
Yeah. Another aspect of the appeal of Alliant, is its corporate structure as being a private company. And, you know, that can seem a little bit superficial, right? But when you scratch it below the surface, what runs deep is because it's a private company and because its largest shareholder base is employees, it brings an immediate and apparent level of accountability to each other, that can't be matched elsewhere. And I think perhaps this is a reflection of it being a privately held company, we are able to run a pretty flat organization. And what that does is encourage everybody to speak up because you can, and you will. And I've seen that very firsthand and that's very refreshing. But more importantly, it's a value because the more we all do that, the greater we can perform for our customers because we all learn off each other just as we learn off our customers, as well.
Derek Whipple (06:49):
Absolutely agree. So what challenges, David, do you see going forward in the market as we begin down this path?
David Heath (06:56):
What do I think is going to be sort of coming down the pipe? Well, the last couple or three years on the market side of our business has been challenging, to say the least. So, the ability to navigate that has almost been a forgotten art, right? Because we lived in a soft market for so long, it was sort of tired. So, we all dusted off our hard market rule book and came out with ideas about how to leverage, how to make sure we get the best products for clients. What we do though is bring in engineering expertise thought leadership, challenging how programs are put together, getting data ahead of things. So, it might be as simple as, you know, transformer business continuity plans, making sure that the DGAs are up to date and all that underwriting information, data, and prepping clients best so that we are equipped best to go and get the best.
So, thinking of challenges that might be coming down the pipe or perhaps already at our doorstep. You know, I think of things like battery storage. There seems to be an ever-evolving concern about fires and how that technology is going to change over the years. I would argue there might be a bigger challenge. And that's getting the real materials for all the batteries and the demand for batteries and the mining that that's going to involve. And interestingly, that raises environmental issues, which can certainly appear contrary to the intention for supporting the renewable industry and all things ESG. Another challenge, valuation. So, inflation we hear that word a lot, right? And we feel it in our daily lives. I think it's important that we help insurers through that maze of valuation. And part of that is to ensure that when we look at values and break them down, as capital investments have been made into facilities, they withdraw old capital numbers of retired pieces of equipment. So new valuations don’t necessarily mean that everything's up 10% because inflation is 10%, right? We need to make sure that the bones of it are looked at.
Rob Bothwell (09:01):
David. Well with that, we'll wrap up this episode. If you would like any further information on the Alliant Power Team, you can go to www.alliant.com/power.
Thanks for your message.
We’ll be in touch shortly.
News & Resources
Podcast: Alliant Introduces Gary Wagner - Risks The Power Industry May Face in the Next 5 Years
What does the next three to five years look like for the Power, Utility and Renewable clients?
Podcast: Evolving Risk in the Power, Utility and Renewable Industry
The Alliant Power team continues to expand and provide the More Rewarding Way to Manage Risk for our Power, Utility and Renewable clients.
Specialty Podcast: How does the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Impact the Aviation Industry?
Sandy Crystal and Lou Timpanaro, Alliant sit down to discuss the current situation in Russia and Ukraine, how it’s affecting the market place and what lessors can do to better position themselves for renewal.