Jim Moran gives a few hints on maximising the opportunities offered by attending `rendez-vous' gatherings.
When it comes to the underwriting business, there are two international gatherings each year that companies all over the world recognise as offering opportunities for fast, efficient contact with their counterparties; the Rendez-Vous de Septembre at Monte Carlo and the Baden Baden meeting in Germany. By arranging to see as many other companies as they can in the space of just a few days, delegates deal with specific issues as well as gaining an overview of the market as a whole. For commutations, a similar need to meet a broad range of international counterparties exists.
Although the needs of markets in the West have largely been met with events in the UK and the US - in Norwich and Philadelphia organised by Cavell and by ARC in London - the Asian markets have never been strongly represented at either event. As a result, in March, Cavell is organising the first Asian Commutations and Reinsurance Operations Rendez-Vous in Singapore, a meeting designed to bring together both the run-off and live companies in the region.
A similar principle to that used as the template for the meetings in Monte Carlo, Baden Baden, Norwich, London and Philadelphia will apply in Singapore. Counterparties will be brought together in an environment designed to encourage networking among the overall group, as well as allowing private meetings to take place.
Some firms may hold as many as 25 appointments over two days, meeting with companies from a number of different markets. This intense schedule leads to great savings on time, expenses and the effort that would otherwise be necessary to arrange individual cross-border meetings.
These appointments are pivotal to making progress with a commutation policy. Without meetings with counterparties, little or no progress is likely to be made on a commutation. Nevertheless, mere attendance at these events is not enough to guarantee progress.
Organisers of these types of gatherings provide a forum for meetings, but they cannot ensure that the event will be a success for each individual delegate. The onus for achieving progress at a rendez-vous rests squarely with the delegates and is more likely to come to those who plan ahead. To help this process along, some rendez-vous organisers publish regularly updated lists of attending delegates on their websites, enabling `diligent' companies to plan ahead and decide which other delegates would be the best to arrange a formal appointment with. For instance, there is little value in two London companies meeting up because they can meet at any point in the year in their home territory, although there is no reason why such a meeting cannot be arranged once all other counterparties have been scheduled for appointments.
A well-organised delegate will arrive at a rendez-vous with a fairly full schedule already laid out, but will have left a few gaps as well. One reason for this is that during the various networking sessions, such as dinners and cocktail parties, delegates are likely to make new acquaintances which could result in new opportunities, and room should be left in the schedule of meetings to see them more formally if possible.
The second reason is that in order for individuals to be at their most effective at such an intense event, delegates do need space in their schedules to take the occasional break, particularly since meals are likely to double as business meetings. Some companies arrange this by sending two or three delegates; in that way the days can be completely full of meetings, ensuring that no opportunities are passed up, but individual delegates can take one or two breaks each day to `recharge the batteries'.
Other factors to consider ahead of the meeting include:
Once these factors have been considered and relevant companies have been targeted, meetings should be set up as soon as possible. At Cavell events, we organise a number of booths that act as offices for delegate companies during the rendez-vous. That way a meeting can be arranged at a company's booth and there is no need to hunt down a person you might never have met before, although name badges are supplied to help make that possible.
Finally, the value to be derived from any rendez-vous is likely to be directly proportional to the effort put into it. Both before the event in preparing figures and business details, and during the event itself in meeting as many people as possible, hard-working delegates can make a real difference to the success of their overall commutation strategy. The rendez-vous exists to facilitate commutation; only the delegates can make it happen.
By Jim Moran
Jim Moran is a Client Manager at Cavell Management Services with special responsibility for commutations.