From his teenage years at M&G to his greatest achievement in Libya, UIB’s now-retired head of treaty talks about his career
Describe your first day in the reinsurance industry.
It was at M&G in September 1968. As with most teenagers, I had little idea what I wanted to do and only ended up in reinsurance because my father used to shoot with Julius Neave, the general manager of M&G, who had suggested that I join them. When I had met him in his office I recall having been very impressed by the bank of telephones, the size of the room, the fact that M&G did business in over 50 countries – and to be told that I would never see an insurance policy.
What has been your greatest industry achievement?
Without doubt it has to be the putting together and placing of the Libyan (Bouri) Offshore Energy programme. UIB won this business only months after I had joined and, although I knew nothing about energy, I found myself designing the original placing which was led by Janson Greene, and putting together an Energy Treaty Reinsurance plan for Libya Insurance company and quoting the excess of loss covers. I will never forget how keen underwriters were to assist and guide us, especially as UIB was a totally new name in town.
Describe your most memorable meeting.
It was one that never took place. After lunch on 11 September 2001 we were in the lobby of the Fairmont hotel, during the Monte Carlo Rendevous, to meet a German reinsurer, when a colleague received a phone call from his son saying that he should find a TV screen. We were about to witness the horrific bombing of the Twin Towers. All business arrangements collapsed with people in tears frantically trying to make phone calls as it became apparent that a number of reinsurance operations had offices in the Twin Towers.
What is the best thing about working in reinsurance? It is the international nature of the business; doing business in so many different economic and political climates and the challenges this produces. Having worked for a company where we were frequently the newcomers into a particular market, these challenges varied from having to try to understand Cat modelling to addressing the increasing globalisation of our business. I was particularly pleased to be able to negotiate agreements with some of our international offices, which by selling them our expertise ensured an income stream into UIB London in respect of business which would have otherwise been placed locally.
Outside reinsurance, what would your dream job be?
I would have liked to have been a journalist but think that a career in reinsurance has been a good option and probably a lot safer to boot
Who is your reinsurance hero?
In almost 50 years in the reinsurance business you have quite a few heroes, not all of whom are necessarily underwriters who do what you want! One person who stands out is Fabio Feggitz, chief underwriter at Generali in London. He was a fount of knowledge in a multitude of areas ranging from US Med Mal to Nigerian property programmes, and frequently knew more about your client than you did. He was invariably helpful and having to wait days to see him always paid dividends.
If you could undo one decision, what would it be?
I don’t have many regrets and none which I recall as having touched upon my professional life. There is no point in dwelling on “the might have beens” of one’s life - far better to put these things behind you and get on with it.