Lloyd’s broker AFL has hired big data specialist James Poole to head up its new ILS advisory business Agile Risk Advisory, the company announced today (4 June).

The firm said that its new unit will “use insights from big data analytics to look for trends and deliver specific evidence-based risk advice for clients” as well as providing support for developing and structuring ILS deals.

Toby Esser, AFL chairman, said: “We see gaps in the market for innovative solutions that reduce the cost of covering risk, as well as new risk and insurance-based opportunities that deliver increased returns.”

“James is ideally positioned to help clients close these gaps, bringing a wealth of expertise and fresh thinking.”

Poole was formerly involved in big data and machine learning sales at start-up Geospatial Insight, prior to which he launched a Latin American-focused facultative reinsurance team for broker AJ Gallagher.

“I’m looking forward to demonstrating how big data and data analytics are fundamentally changing the (re)insurance market,” he said.

“My work will involve developing new techniques that allow us to evidence the impact of risk, together with new kinds of risk management, retention, transfer, and prevention strategies – always with a view of increasing value for clients. Watch this space!”

Brokers are increasingly making forays into the near $90bn non-life ILS market as investors continue to allocate capital to the space despite a series of heavy losses last autumn.

Willis Towers Watson estimated that around $3.1bn worth of catastrophe bonds were issued in the first quarter of 2018.

The intermediary itself moved its ILS unit, which previously sat in the same division as its primary insurance broking business, to be part of its reinsurance arm Willis Re last month.

The transfer reflects the growing influence of ILS in the (re)insurance market, the broking house said.

William Dubinsky will continue to lead the ILS team, but will now report to Willis Re deputy chairman Mark Hvidsten.