James Brady

Hiscox’s new Lead Cyber Underwriter on his love for computers since he was a child and his desire to experience the cut and thrust of Lloyd’s.

What was your dream job as a child?

Some boys wanted to be astronauts or firemen, but not me. Instead, I dreamed of becoming a bank manager.

How did you get into insurance?

I’ve worked for Hiscox pretty much my whole working life, but it was purely by chance. My first job when I first left university was working for a pensions firm up in Glasgow. But, I quickly decided that wasn’t for me and instead got a job working as a trainee high-net-worth underwriter in Hiscox’s UK retail operation in the city.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I love the variety and intellectual challenge of being a cyber underwriter, trying to get to grips with the different risks of a large technology company, a financial institution or a big retailer – sometimes all in the same day. We get to underwrite some really interesting risks at Hiscox. Also, I really enjoy developing relationships, especially with our brokers.

Did you mess about with computers as a child?

I’ve loved them since I was young, and it’s probably part of the reason why I find my job so rewarding. My first computer was a ZX Spectrum that my parents gave me. At school, I really enjoyed learning how to program, although I wasn’t one to sit coding in my darkened bedroom.

I love the variety and intellectual challenge of being a cyber underwriter, trying to get to grips with the different risks of a large technology company, a financial institution or a big retailer.

Have you ever met a hacker?

I recently met an ethical, or “white-hat”, hacker as part of the UK launch of a new cyber product. I’ve probably also met a “grey hat” – hackers who break into a network without permission but won’t steal anything – during the course of my job. But, I’ve never come across one of the real bad guys, a black hat, as far as I know.

You were Hiscox UK’s Head of Cyber and Head of Media before joining Hiscox London Market in March. Why did you move?

I really enjoyed the 12 years I spent in the UK retail business, but I wanted to work in the Lloyd’s market at some stage in my career, to experience underwriting bigger-ticket, more volatile business and to negotiate face-to-face with brokers at the Box in Lloyd’s.  When an opportunity arose to work in the cyber team here it felt like the right move at the right time. It’s a really exciting time to join, because cyber is an investment line for Hiscox London Market and we’ve got a great team here.

What are the biggest differences between underwriting cyber in the UK retail business and in Hiscox London Market? Could London Market learn anything from retail?

Their respective customer profiles are vastly different for a start. The UK business has 13,000 cyber customers, most of which are SMEs. All of this is primary cyber insurance, whereas Hiscox London Market has about 200 big-business clients with revenues of over $1 billion.

Hiscox London Market has ambitions to become a leading primary cyber insurer, so I think there are certainly some transferrable services from our UK business, particularly in relation to the value proposition it has created for cyber.

Hiscox London Market has ambitions to become a leading primary cyber insurer, so I think there are certainly some transferrable services from our UK business, particularly in relation to the value proposition it has created for cyber.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Sydney. It’s a brilliant city with a real outdoors culture, which I like. It also allows me to indulge several of my passions: it has great beaches, fabulous places to eat and the opportunity to play and watch sport. 

What’s your favourite pastime?

Playing golf, although travelling and exploring different parts of the world has probably run it close in recent years.

Favourite food?

Both my wife and I are foodies, we love different types of food and eat out quite a lot. But I think a good steak is hard to beat. Sushi comes a close second, though. Does that count as surf and turf?

Describe your perfect weekend?

It would have been somewhere warm before I got married last year, but I bought my wife a Dachshund/Jack Russell cross as a wedding present. So, now it would have to be somewhere in the UK, so the dog could come with us, although it would preferably still be sunny. I’d go and play a round of golf on a links course on Saturday morning, followed by dinner at a local pub. On Sunday morning we’d go for a walk on the beach and find somewhere that does a good roast. Then I’d watch a game of football or rugby in the afternoon.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people?

People presume I’m Scottish because of my accent, but I was born in Belfast and am Northern Irish at heart.