An interview with Dave Matcham, chief executive officer of International Underwriting Association
What four adjectives best describe yourself?
Professional, compassionate, conscientious, approachable.
What qualities do you most admire in other people?
Honesty and enthusiasm are two very important qualities I believe. At the IUA we are an organisation of member companies working for member companies. This means we need a dedicated team that can adapt flexibly to the changing needs of our members.
What qualities do you most dislike in other people?
I dislike people who are deceitful and manipulative, using "management speak" to obscure their true feelings. Also, while arrogance itself is not necessarily a negative trait, it is particularly unattractive when displayed by people with no real talent to justify it.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started in this industry?
I wish I had fully appreciated the immense value of having a good network of reliable contacts and the importance of being technically proficient in the job. It is very difficult to reach a senior level in the industry without both.
What was the last thing that completely surprised you?
The ability of one person, Eliot Spitzer, to shake the confidence of the whole market. I was also quite surprised to come home and find my wife standing in the garage talking to the Conservative leader Michael Howard. It was during the recent election campaign and he is our local MP in Folkestone.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
One of the big attractions of working for the IUA is that as an association representing the whole of the company market there is an amazing variety of issues and topics to deal with. This diversity means that it is very difficult to get stuck in a rut, there are always new challenges and fresh motivations on a Monday morning.
Whose job would you most like to have and why?
I am very happy with the job I have been given at the IUA. But for a completely unrealistic dream job that I'll never have the opportunity to do, captaining the England cricket team to an Ashes victory over Australia this summer would not be a bad way of earning a living.
What is your biggest regret?
I do not have many regrets as I prefer to consider what can be done in the future rather than dwell on what can't be altered about the past. I do, however, wish I had moved up to London earlier after beginning my career at the Institute of London Underwriters' aviation department in Folkestone. I also regret the fact that a knee injury curtailed any modest cricketing dreams I did have.
What are you most proud of having achieved?
I am most proud of my two children. Professionally I am proud of having started at the bottom, going on to fulfil many different roles and now being recognised as the right man for the chief executive's role. I hope that in this job it will be my achievement to deliver a new business agenda for the association, focussing on five key priorities. These are driving the business process reform programme the IUA helped to initiate; helping companies to meet their compliance burdens and maintaining a good working relationship with the Financial Services Authority; supporting underwriting and claims practitioners; communicating better with brokers and finally representing companies' interests to governments and regulators worldwide on issues that directly impact their business.
This will make the IUA more market focussed and is a better model for its members in these busy times. It reflects the most pressing business demands faced by companies and will, I hope, cement the reputations of both the IUA as an influential, supportive market body and London as a centre for transacting international re/insurance business.
What factors have enabled you to get where you are today?
Being prepared to listen and take on board the views of the market in general and IUA company members in particular. The association must be prepared to respond to a continually evolving business environment. I have always tried to respond honestly to any questions and challenges that are put before me and ensure that the work I do produces relevant, direct benefits.