It’s all kicking off in Monte Carlo, but our man still has his ear to the ground

On the guestlist
Wherever there’s one broker, you’ll usually find several more trying to muscle him out or eat the scraps from his table.

JLT chief executive Dominic Burke was reminded of this fact when he was invited to attend the Olympics opening ceremony in London by Stephen Catlin.

Our Mr Burke briefly entertained the thought that he was the Catlin boss’s favoured broker.

But he then found Stephen had also invited Marsh’s Brian Duperreault and Dan Glaser, Aon’s Greg Case, and Ryan Specialty’s Pat Ryan. Two’s company, six is a crowd, eh Dominic?

Time out
I’m addicted to the cut and thrust of the market, but I can understand why someone would want to take time out and enjoy the simple life - for a little while at least.

One such man is Hiscox Bermuda chief executive Charles Dupplin, who tells me that he will be taking 10 weeks out this summer to “watch the carrots grow” on his Scottish farm before moving to his new posting at Hiscox in London. Sounds a little bit too tame for me, but hopefully he’ll come back to the market bright-eyed.

Shark tales
Another man who might want to spend some time with Charles’s carrots to recuperate is Ernst & Young principal & MENA insurance leader Justin Balcombe, who used to live in Australia.

His daily ritual involved getting up at 5.30am and swimming from one end of Bondi Beach to the other, then running back.

One day he noticed a group of lifeguards watching him.

They told him that dawn and dusk is shark feeding time, and the lifeguards had been running a book to see how long it would be before one took a bite out of him.

On the table
Patronage from my pal Warren Buffett isn’t handed out lightly, so American Olympic table-tennis star Ariel Hsing should count herself lucky.

Only 16 years old, the teenager has quite a fan base (including Bill Gates, who was spotted cheering her on during the Games).

Warren met Ariel when she was nine, and the two struck up a friendship.

I love my iPad, but I can’t say I get a great deal of actual work done on it

She regularly plays table tennis at Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings against all challengers, but perhaps it’s no surprise that no insurance bods have beaten her yet.

Given Ariel’s strong performance this year, I think our insurers would need some serious training to make her even the slightest bit worried.

Speculate to accumulate

You’ve got to hand it to Swiss Re chairman Walter Kielholz.

Apparently, he bought run-off consultancy PRO for £9 in 1996, back when he was an executive board member.

The reinsurance giant sold PRO to run-off specialist Tawa for £38m in 2009.

I understand he once described it as the most lucrative acquisition he ever made. Now that’s what I call a return on investment.

I love my iPad, but I can’t say I get a great deal of actual work done on it.

Turns out I’m not alone. Remember the brief run of news stories about brokers using iPads to place business in Lloyd’s, and how it was hailed as a big step forward for the market?

My chums on the underwriting side tell me that after a recent spot check on how brokers were using the tablets, they found the vast majority had been left at home in favour of using the traditional slipcases.

If you do see London market types with an iPad, it’ll be to feed their Angry Birds addiction rather than improve their workflow.