“It’s my job to get all the specialists at NNPC to contribute in the right way. A challenge, but one I enjoy very much.” In this interview, Margreet Huisman, member of NNPC’s board of directors, speaks freely about the watershed moments in her P&I club’s past and the sweeping changes still to come.
Margreet Huisman has worked at NNPC since 2007. First at Finance, then Risk & Compliance, before joining the board of directors in 2014 with a focus on executing underwriting and finance policies and internal operations. That means her work is of great influence on the organization’s daily activities.
How did you come to work here?
“By coincidence. After my studies, I worked at an accountancy firm for a short while and was searching for a company and function more suited to me. In that period I was temporarily posted at NNPC on the Finance department. At the time I thought ‘this company doesn’t suit me, I’m out of here’, but CEO Rob Beets convinced me to stay by explaining we were still growing. That I could be part of that. Interested, I accepted a fulltime position, setting up the compliance and risk management department.”
That sounds quite challenging.
“Absolutely. One of those challenges is that small financial institutions like us still have to comply to all the laws and regulations, just like larger firms. In arranging our organization, we thought very carefully about how many parttime or fulltime employees to take on internally and which roles we would be better off outsourcing. We also contacted Oranje and EFM, who later merged into ship insurer EOC. Collaborations like these were important to get ahead.”
What changed at NNPC during that time?
“Back then, our core business was 90% service-related, namely insuring and handling claims. You can imagine what a change it is when suddenly that focus shifts to complying to laws and regulations under European supervision. Our solvability, having enough cash on hand, became increasingly more important to cover the risks we took on. Having our business operations be disciplined, ethical and constantly evaluated. And from that transition I joined the board of directors in 2014, responsible for compliance and HR policy, among other things. I was excited to do that, because I understood its value. NNPC is richly experienced in the field of P&I and it would be a waste if we didn’t match that in other areas.”
Could you give an example of how that benefits your members?
“We do things very conscientiously. Looking ahead, operating dependably, consistently. To give you an example, take sanction legislation. The maritime industry today is so much more complex than it used to be. There are more stakeholders behind a ship and they all need to be vetted. Sometimes a background stakeholder is on a sanction list somewhere; how and to whom do you pay out damages in that case? We look for solutions that benefit the member, while still complying to the law. We’re able to do that because we have our things in order.”
It comes back to what you said earlier, that NNPC is richly experienced.
“That’s how we provide value to our members.”
Did this transition have other consequences?
“We used to have a supervisory board (our past management) consisting exclusively of NNPC members. Due to governance requirements, that had to change to at least fifty percent external people. How could we still keep our members close, though? We set up an advisory board, staffed with members, who advise us on products and services to this day.”
How do you ensure your role, governance, stays at the forefront within NNPC?
“I always try to be part of decision-making and think along, elucidate matters. Take for instance the current demands for sustainability. I will start up a process with various people to consider what the right policies could be and the consequences they would have.”
How is NNPC positioned in the larger field of P&I insurers?
“Our smaller size as an insurance company also gives us flexibility. Listen, I can’t pull open a can of people whenever there’s a problem, like larger organizations are able to. What we do have is a highly motivated team that knows what it’s doing. Beyond that, I have an extensive network for hiring the right specialists. With those in place, we always get the job done. And wherever possible, we try to automate processes.”
What topics are currently at play in the world of P&I?
“Sustainability, just like in society at large. At its core this means: how do we as marine insurers take social responsibility, both with our products and services and our investment strategies? You will always find us looking ahead. What will the risks be ten, twenty or fifty years from now? How will we remain relevant in the broadest sense? Technology marches ever forward too. What will be the effect on customer communications, the accessibility of data? Our prediction is, it’ll all become increasingly tailormade.”
If NNPC grows in the coming years, how will that affect your flexibility and ability to think on your feet?
“In recent years, NNPC’s fundamental existence has been called into question. The world of shipping is scaling up and we will have to move along to cater to new types of customers with our products and services. We decided in the annual meeting that NNPC would continue to be independent, but doing that requires growth, with the right solvability and financial prognoses. We developed growth scenarios that engendered successful results: cooperating with other parties on the market and launching NNPC Correspondents. It gets you thinking, though. My main concern is a long-term one: what if we fail to grow because the market changes? The market requires ever more and different products. Still, at the end of the day members choose comfort, choose a reliable partner that manages their affairs. That means you will have to adjust your business case.”
Speaking of which, what did the Solvency II guideline mean for you?
“Solvency II is a European directive designed to strengthen supervision on and legislation surrounding insurance companies in the EU. This directive was implemented to guarantee our stability and financial integrity, at the same time improving the protection of the insured. For us it meant another step in professionalizing our internal business operations. It made us make very well-considered choices about short-term and long-term risks. That’s how we benefited from it. We guard our solvability like hawks. Should we want to scale up now, that will prove invaluable. But don’t worry, we are and will remain relatively small, so there is little chance of us losing our flexibility.”
Again, how might a member notice this?
“For the people and parties we insure, we are a resoundingly stable insurer whose finances are thoroughly in order, 100% reliable. But I actually don’t want our members to notice all too much of this. When I started out at NNPC, I was taught a great lesson. “Don’t make it too technical,” I was told, “just say things as plainly as possible.” Our members aren’t interested in our profession, they just need thing to be clear and well-arranged. That notion always guided me. We evaluate and vet everything we do and make careful decisions, but for the members it is enough to know we have solid policies, streamlined processes and expert employees.”
Is there anything you would like to change for the better?
“Members often approach us after something has already happened. Sometimes, though, it is possible to see things coming and talk to us about it. I would sincerely like to invite people to call us as soon as possible for advice. It might well prevent very painful situations. Second, our relations are very important to us, I would like to see us get even closer. Our team forms a close-knit group of professionals that get the job done.”
Excellent or Fixed Premium
Are you in need of a flexible and stable P&I insurer that knows the Dutch maritime world like the back of their hand? With our Excellent or Fixed Premium packages, NNPC has everything it needs to be of service to you.