“You want us to change?!” The last few months has provided me with some interesting insights into the life of a Lloyd’s underwriter. Cultural resistance to change is by no means unique to the London market.
Towards the end of last year, journalists on GR and its sister publications Insurance Times and StrategicRISK were told we would have to radically change the way we worked. The company had taken the bold move of investing thousands of pounds into drastically improving our digital offering.
I would like to tell you that my immediate reaction was an enlightened one. That I said: “How wonderful, now we’ll really be competing in the new media age!” or, “Finally, we’re giving our readers what they want”. These comments might have been uttered rather blandly while I was in earshot of my managers, but sadly I had an altogether more negative response. Mine was the typical reaction of the worker bee told she will have to learn a few new tricks. It was more along the lines of: “You want me to do what?” and “I don’t have time for this”.
The reason I can happily reveal this human fallibility is firstly, because I think many GR readers will sympathise with that powerful and often irrational fear of change and secondly, because our new websites have now gone live and they’re superb! And thankfully nobody has been crippled by the additional workload.
Being a monthly title, the ability to report in real-time has come as a luxury. The magazine will continue to provide all the news and in-depth features it has always done (online and in hard copy), but you can now supplement that with the daily news and analysis on the new and drastically improved www.globalreinsurance.com. And you don’t even have to sift through masses of content to find what you want. The website is totally customisable, as are the news alerts. Just tell us which markets and sectors are of interest to you and our clever system will do the rest.
Burning a hole in their pockets
“Many Bermuda players are drowning in profits but low on opportunities
Helen Yates, Editor Global Reinsurance
Now onto this month’s content and those poor Bermudian reinsurers. Too much money can surely never be a bad thing? But it is proving something of a challenge. After a year of benign weather and rock hard property catastrophe rates, many Bermuda players are drowning in profits but low on opportunities.
A softening market, greater competition, less business in Florida and the continuing pressure to diversify has severely limited options. The opportunistic capital in the market is already making an exit with a number of sidecars closing down and investors getting their return from newly public start-ups. Many reinsurers have opted to return excess capital to shareholders while others are considering the M&A route (page 14).
The latest deal between Validus and Talbot is surely a bid to access the Lloyd’s market. It is nevertheless an ambitious move from a start-up that has only notched up one full year of trading and is in the midst of an initial public offering.
But it should come as no surprise that Bermuda’s fledging companies are feeling the heat. Given the increased competition (from other start-ups and sidecars), the Class of 2005 “will be forced to seek alternative business opportunities in an attempt to fully utilise the capital raised”, warns a new AM Best report. It predicts this strategy could result in increased execution risk and put ratings under pressure if new endeavours are “not rational from a competitive, operational or intellectual perspective”.
Start-ups might have had an easy ride in 2006 but 2007 will surely sort the boys from the men, to steal a phrase from Jim Bryce (CEO Q&A on page 60).