21(–) Mike O’Halleran Executive Chairman, Aon Benfield NEW ENTRY
The Benfield/Aon merger made the merged entity the largest reinsurance broker in the world and has rocketed O’Halleran into the list of the market’s most influential people.
Even before the merger, O’Halleran had spent a career getting Aon Re to be the broker of choice for the reinsurance market, building up its consultation role with investment in analytics, catastrophe modelling, actuarial services and rating agency capabilities. He is respected by his team and peers alike – in fact, the 58-year-old, who is well known as a big Chicago White Sox fan, says sports are at the core of his management philosophy – he’s a great believer in team play.
O’Halleran was part of the team that started Aon Re. He was president and chief operating officer of Aon from April 1999 until September 2004, but had held other senior management positions within the group since 1987, the year he was headhunted by Aon’s founder, Pat Ryan. When he joined Aon was still relatively small, and when he helped start Aon Re, Guy Carpenter was the main reinsurance broker.
22(24) Charlie Crist Governor, Florida
Florida Governor Charlie Crist provoked the ire of big US insurers this year for refusing to back a bill to deregulate the industry and let insurers hike their rates.
The bill, HB117, would have enticed insurers to provide property cover by removing restrictions on rates. The industry argued regulations made it impossible for them to make a profit if Florida was slammed by a major storm.
But Governor Crist, a Republican who was Florida Attorney General from 2002 to 2007, resisted pressure from a powerful lobby of insurers and the business community by vetoing HB117 in June this year.
“To have that industry unregulated in essence is not something that is appealing to me, nor is it fair to the customer,” Crist, 53, said. Consumer groups praised the veto as a “no brainer” which protected hard-pressed households from potentially steep rates hikes.
At the same time, Crist increased rates for the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp by 10%. US reports said Crist’s veto means State Farm Florida will go ahead with plans to stop writing insurance for property owners.
23(26) Mike McGavick CEO, XL Capital
Mike McGavick is widely seen to be doing a good job at XL Capital. He inherited a mess when he took over as CEO in May last year, but has brought to bear his experience of turning around Safeco, the Seattle-based insurance giant.
McGavick grew up in Seattle where, as a boy of 10, he knocked on doors to help his father, a local politician, with his campaigns. He attended Seattle Preparatory School, an elite prep school and later followed his father into politics, unsuccessfully running as a Republican for the US Senate in 2006. He returned to business and the CEO position at XL. He has pursued de-risking and cost-saving measures to restore confidence and return the company to profitability.
At 51, he is a man of ferocious drive and energy, with a firm but high-pitched, hoarse voice. Despite XL’s problems, McGavick is relentlessly upbeat. His vision is of XL returning to its core values, especially skilled traditional underwriting.
Raised as a Catholic, his faith remains important to him.
24(28) Stephen Catlin CEO, Catlin Group
A well-known figure in the London market and on the conference circuit, it seems incredible to think that Stephen Catlin could have ended up being a dentist. But he turned down a place at dentistry school to begin working on a Lloyd’s box at the age of 18. The rest is history.
Catlin founded Catlin Underwriting Agencies in 1984 with fellow underwriter Rupert Atkin. With starting capital of just £25,000, the Catlin group of today operates four underwriting platforms, a network of international offices and has just sponsored the Catlin Arctic Survey.
The extremely ambitious polar survey catapulted the Catlin name into the headlines in 2009. The 73-day expedition, led by British polar explorer Pen Hadow, was undertaken to assess the state and thickness of the Arctic sea ice. The data they collected is now being interpreted by scientists and will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.
“It’s rare to be able to sponsor something that has such global importance – and global interest,” says the 54-year-old Catlin.
25(29) Tatsuhiko Hoshina President and CEO, Tokio Millennium Re
In 2008, Tokio Millennium Re recorded the lowest loss ratio and the lowest combined ratio among major Bermuda reinsurance companies, as well as the highest return on equity. It was also among a tiny number of financial companies that experienced no write-downs, despite the financial crisis of 2008. Capital exceeded $1bn, from a standing $125m start nine years earlier.
Behind TMR’s success is the self-effacing Tats Hoshina. The
46-year-old arrived in Bermuda in 2000 as TMR’s number two and has gone on to become the Bermuda industry’s number one performer. A keen athlete, he will compete in the Half Iron Man triathlon during the Monte Carlo Rendez-vous. Last year he had major mechanical problems with his bike, but completed the race and managed to look relaxed at a gala reception later the same day. He has also competed in the New York and Boston marathons, and takes part in the Bermuda half-marathon each May.
Tats also is part of an effort to globalise the Tokio Marine Group and is on the board of Kiln Limited and other group companies.
26(–) Andrew Appel CEO, Aon Benfield NEW ENTRY
A McKinsey man like Aon CEO Greg Case, Appel joined Aon in 2005 to head up its consultancy arm. Three years later he was promoted to CEO of Aon Benfield, the newly-merged entity and a formidable powerhouse, with the largest market share among reinsurance brokers.
But the merger has not been without its difficulties. Benfield was known for an open, collaborative culture and was strong in marketing, whereas Aon’s culture was technically deeper and more academic. Appel has had to meld these two cultures, and make staff cuts, while retaining key personnel. Of the top 150 leadership positions, more than 95% have stayed.
Appel combines a sharp brain with good people skills and a dazzling smile. At 44, he is one of the youngest in our top list.
An early riser, he is in the gym most mornings and gets to the office by 6:30am. On weekdays evenings he is often at a client dinner, but reserves weekends for his family. In his spare time he enjoys wine and scuba diving.
27(27) Bronek Masojada CEO, Hiscox
Bronek Masojada can make two significant claims to being one of the most influential figures in the market today. The first has been in transforming Hiscox from a relatively small insurance company, rooted in Lloyd’s of London, into a global player which has been beefed up with heavy external fund-raising and a diversified range of products.
Masojada, 46, also played an important role in drawing up the map for reforming Lloyd’s when he worked for McKinsey (there’s that name again!). Working with key industry figures such as Robert Hiscox, he helped produce the 1991 Rowland taskforce which led to corporate capital coming into the market.
Masojada became the company’s managing director at the age of 31. Then, the private company had premium income of £350m and 200 staff.
Under Masojada, who became chief executive in 2000, Hiscox became a FTSE 250-listed company, which last year posted pre-tax profits of £105.2m and had sales of more than £1bn. Hiscox domiciled in Bermuda 2006 and now has 900 staff and offices in 13 countries.
28(33) Frank O’Halloran CEO, QBE Insurance Group
As the head of the sprawling Australian insurer, Frank O’Halloran has earned his place at the top of the pile. He was brought into the company in 1976 at the age of 30 after it was formed by merging three companies. The young accountant was tasked with bringing order, integrity and innovation to QBE and worked hand-in-glove with the then boss, John Cloney. The company grew in leaps and bounds and O’Halloran took over in 1998 when Cloney stepped down.
Under his tenure he has taken the company from a well-known and trusted Australian insurance company to becoming one of the largest reinsurers in the world with more than 75% of its operations outside Australia through 20 years of more than 100 acquisitions. And the 62-year-old is still buying.
O’Halloran says he is waiting to strike mega-deals in Australia, to avoid being marginalised by the growing importance of IAG, Suncorp and Allianz. He has spent nearly $A1.25bn on two sizeable Australian companies since last August (mortgage insurer, PMI and rural provider, Elders).
29(21) Joe Taranto Chairman and CEO, Everest Reinsurance Group
Despite being a man who shies away from publicity, there is no denying what a force Joe Taranto is in the market. As the head of Everest Re, a world leader in property and casualty reinsurance and insurance, his quiet hard work has paid off, shrugging off a terrible slump in stock price and taking advantage of market conditions to write more business.
The 60-year-old saw written premiums rise by 14% in the first quarter of 2009 and reinsurance premiums up 19%, despite foreign currency devaluations relative to the dollar.
Everest has benefited from the “flight to security”, and the company attracted new business and increased shares on existing deals. At the insurance level, an “A+” Best rating and financial stability has had buyers putting them on the top tier of their preferred list.
Taranto became chairman and CEO in October 1994. Before this he was a director and president of Transatlantic Holdings, after being handpicked by Hank Greenberg to head up the new reinsurance start up. He joined AIG in 1975.
30(25) José Manuel Martinez Executive Chairman, MAPFRE SA
José Manuel Martinez’s talent and potential were spotted when he joined MAPFRE in 1972 at 25. The chairman of Spain’s largest insurer is credited for his pioneering work to build a diversified presence for MAPFRE’s reinsurance business. As early as 1977, long before the reinsurance world awoke to the Latin American market’s potential, a young Martinez was visiting insurers to establish MAPFRE’s reputation as an internationally active reinsurer. After building up a presence in the Spanish-speaking world, he turned his attention to Europe and the Far East, capitalising on the hard market opportunities in 2000-2002.
He still has ambitions to make significant inroads in the US market and hailed last year’s acquisition of US auto insurer the Commerce Group as “a decisive step in MAPFRE’s international expansion”.
Today, the 62-year-old oversees a company with more than 30,600 employees. Despite the tough environment, MAPFRE’s profits rose 12.9% in the first half of 2009, with international business contributing 47% of the company’s premiums.