Optio establishes European operation in Malta

Kevin Cleary, Director of Optio Europe

Optio, the specialty MGA and Lloyd’s Broker, announced it has established a European office in Malta having received regulatory approval from the Malta Financial Services Authority and Lloyd’s Cover holder and Broker approval.

“Establishing Optio Europe in Malta will enable us to get closer to our existing clients in the European Economic Area and develop new business and relationships with potential clients,” states Kevin Cleary, Director of Optio Europe.

Optio comprises Cove Programmes, Ascent Underwriting and Bay Risk Services and is one of the largest independently owned specialty managing general agents in insurance. Through our underwriting and broking businesses Optio offers a range of specialty classes of insurance such as cyber, professional indemnity, transactional risk, political violence and terrorism and political risks, among others.  

Speaking to this newsroom, Cleary explained: “Optio Europe’s Malta-based team comprises Martin Rimmer, general manager and Paul Darmanin, non-executive director. They will be supported by London-based directors Kevin Hastings, Group CEO, John Mawson, Group COO and myself, Group CCO.”

When asked why Malta, Cleary continued:“As a leading European financial centre, Malta has a robust and stable reputation and is a solid base for insurance and financial services businesses, which made it a natural choice for our European office. There are a host of other reasons including, but not limited to, access to a deep talent pool, the Malta Financial Services Authority, which operates a strong supervisory framework as well as a competitive, transparent regime, English being one of the national languages plus Malta’s stunning beauty is a great added bonus!”

In a time when many companies are reducing operations due to the ongoing pandemic, Cleary explained the rationale for expansion: “Optio is a growing, London-based business and while our main focus is the US, Europe is increasingly a growth market for us. As we look to develop our European business further, it is important to be close to our customers to provide enhanced support to them. Also, when broking and underwriting risks it is essential to have excellent data, but it is also ideal to have a physical presence to gain a locally astute and nuanced understanding of the regions and environments our clients are operating in.”

Adding Brexit to the mix Cleary explained the setting up process.“This has all been conducted remotely using specialists in Malta and our own employees working in tandem with each other, but the move has not been prompted or driven by Brexit or the pandemic. True to its financial-services-friendly reputation, establishing Optio Europe in Malta has been remarkably straightforward. The MFSA, while rigorous, was also very clear and helpful and so far, the experience we have had has confirmed that Malta was definitely the right choice.”

He concluded “Optio Europe will serve as the growth engine for the expanding underwriting and broking portfolios across the European Economic Area. It allows us to reach existing and potential new customers in our existing product lines and being in Malta will enable us to be more effective in the services and protection we provide to them”

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