Regis Mutual Management was proud to be included in the Parliamentary Review, highlighting best practice in the industry. Read the full here or below.
Established 10 years ago, Regis Mutual Management (Regis) has ushered in a compelling new era for mutuality at a critical time for the UK financial services community and the
economy at large. Set against the context of uncertainty following the 2008 banking crisis, its mutual model gave customers choice for those who were tired with the status quo of rising costs without receiving proper benefits. The company has grown across industry sectors over the last decade, and its international growth has helped contribute to Britain’s business leadership on the world stage. On this matter, CEO Paul Koronka has more to say.
Our mutual model offers a real alternative to conventional insurance, providing a more efficient and tailored approach to managing risk. Regis managed mutuals are entirely owned by their members, and run by a board appointed by the membership, who make key decisions such as what to do with any surplus after payment of claims, insurance premiums and administration costs. There are no shareholders; everything the mutual does is for its members’ benefit. We offer a robust structure for claims and risk transfer – or as we call it, a “redesigned” approach to insurance.
We’ve led the way in developing the discretionary mutual model, which is generally the only economically viable way of setting up a mutual in the current environment. It’s much easier to set this up for people who are interested in protecting their risks through a mutual, without having to fund it with huge amounts of capital.
Over the last decade, Regis has helped many organisations gain control of their risk in a transparent way, including enabling them to generate and manage their own surpluses. Our expertise comes from listening to our customers and designing unique structures around their specific needs. As demand for our services has grown, we’ve expanded to cover every kind of support required to build a mutual in virtually every sector.
The 2008 financial crisis jolted our perspectives along with those of consumers and businesses. We are warier of short-termism, quick fixes and trickle-down. We are more open to challenging long-held assumptions, more ethically sensitive to decisions made in our names and more welcoming of egalitarian alternatives to structuring institutions. These are powerful, and have not only made the idea of mutuality more appealing but brought the industry into the 21st century. The idea of an organisation owned by its members and run in their interests is not new, but recent experiences have increased its salience.
Though we are predominantly business-to-business, market demand for our services mirrors a change in public mood over the last decade. Ten years after the banking crisis, 30 per cent of Britons say they prefer organisations that don’t pay excessive bonuses to directors. Furthermore, 25 per cent say they want to deal with a business where they, the customer, feel valued; 29 per cent want to be understood rather than pitched at. These point toward the four-point ethos that underpins a modern mutual: long-term focus, member-centricity, straightforwardness and stability.
Consumers may not have talked enthusiastically about mutuality before, but the values and attributes they are gravitating toward in fact described the very essence of a modern mutual.
Four milestones in our journey are:
1. Military family. Regis entered retail in 2015 with the launch of The Military Mutual (TMM), which aims to better serve the needs of the “military family” – servicemen and women in the armed forces, reservists, veterans and their families.
Broadly speaking, this community is comprised of roughly 20 million people. Between them is a strong sense of community, a common bond enshrined in the military covenant. Many had experienced difficulty finding financial products that took full account of their particular needs – whether this was a consequence of serving or feeling unsupported by general financial services companies when making the transition into civilian life. As TMM’s Chairman Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts says, too many in this community do not receive adequate provision from financial services.
2. Public sector. For the first time, the fire authorities have started up a mutual using the discretionary mutual model, albeit a hybrid version. This is significant for us and for mutuality in general – it uses our area of specialist expertise and represents a strong endorsement of the structures we’ve developed. We know there’s plenty of interest among the rest of the public sector regarding our mutual structures and how they can assist in the way risk is dealt with.
3. The high street. Given the external challenges faced by high streets across the UK, a mutual for independent retailers made perfect sense.
The Retail Mutual (TRM) provides an alternative to conventional insurance for the independent retail community in the UK. It exists to give them peace of mind and protect independent businesses on our high streets. A decade after we started managing the mutual, TRMnow has more than 4,500 covers, protecting not only retailers’ businesses but their homes and rental portfolios too. With the support of Regis, the mutual continues to grow, innovate and introduce new products and services.
4. On the world stage. Three decades ago, Australian universities were facing difficulties. Commercial insurers had abandoned aspects of a university’s insurance that they couldn’t afford to provide. A result of this, Unimutual, a discretionary mutual, was established. Unimutual provides cover for Australian universities and the specific risks they had. With thousands of staff and students, universities essentially function as mini-cities. The risks range from casualties, public liability, professional indemnity, medical malpractice and clinical trials to those of management and cyber liability.
The member universities are a network of businesses with specific needs and risks to manage. An understanding of these needs binds these universities together, who ordinarily would be in competition with one another. In almost three decades, the Unimutual has become the largest of our mutuals, currently covering around $60 billion worth of university assets across Australia.
In terms of creating more mutuals, I believe we’re only scratching the surface. We have received approaches from all directions, businesses large and small. Interest is also coming from further afield than customary. We’re currently conversing with companies and lawyers from Germany, Luxembourg and France, where insurance markets have become stultified and monopolised.
Whatever unfolds, we’ll continue to be a pioneer for and advocate of the mutual ethos in its purest form. We live in the age of consumer empowerment and those businesses that put consumers in the driving seat will be tomorrow’s success stories. Within this, mutuality has a key role to play; in this respect, Regis inspires to be at the fore. The mutual advantage has never been so tangible or compelling.