31(17) Raymond Barrette Chairman and CEO, White Mountains Insurance Group
This executive must have White Mountains running through his veins. In 2007 Raymond Barrette was brought out of retirement and the 58-year-old has been doing a very good job for the property and casualty insurer.
Under his guidance, White Mountains posted a second-quarter profit in 2009 on the back of strong results at its unit, OneBeacon Insurance Group, and net investment gains.
He has also been behind the decision to convert its Bermuda reinsurance operations into a branch of its unit, White Mountains Re Sirius, which writes non-life reinsurance and selected primary coverage, including international health and travel insurance, contingency, aviation and property. As part of this plan, White Mountains Re will contribute more than $200m to Sirius.
Barrette took over from the legendary Jack Byrne – and Steve Fass took over for the two years when Barrette tried to lay down his management pen.
Before joining the company in 1997, Barrette had 23 years of experience in the insurance business, mostly at Fireman’s Fund.
32(20) W Marston Becker CEO, Max Capital
Marty Becker took on the battle of all battles in 2009 when he went head-to-head with fellow Bermuda reinsurer Validus Re. When the proposed merger between Max and IPC was announced in March, many expected the deal to go ahead without a hitch. But Becker was in for a tough ride when – later in March – Validus Holdings’ hostile bid for IPC upped the stakes.
Right from the start, southern gentleman Becker, 56, showed his mettle; there were signs that he was getting ready for war.
“We remain fully committed to completing our planned merger with IPC,” he said in May. “In contrast, Validus continues to promote illusory concepts to IPC shareholders…”
Since taking the helm in November 2006, Becker has focused on bringing more diversification to Max, emphasising the value this would bring to IPC. But fighting talk was not enough. Max was forced to bow out gracefully in June when IPC shareholders voted against the merger.
33(30) Ken LeStrange President and CEO, Endurance
Ken LeStrange is no stranger to tough times. Throughout his career, he has been brought in to take on parts of businesses that were struggling and to bring them round to profitability.
LeStrange likes to keep tight control at Endurance, the reinsurance company he helped to form in 2001. Having worked for various of the major global players, he is well aware of the pitfalls of becoming too large.
With a passing resemblance to Walter Matthieu, the 51-year-old instead cuts an extremely sharp image in his immaculate dark blue suits and crisp white shirts. Very much the top executive, this is a man who clearly knows what he wants, expects to get it and will not suffer fools gladly along the way.
Encouraged into the reinsurance world by his father (who worked at General Re) – LeStrange had plans either to go into publishing or to read law – he has worked from the bottom up, starting on a management training programme at the Hartford Insurance Group.
34(34) Scott Carmilani President and CEO, Allied World Assurance Company Holdings
Allied World’s seemingly continuous growth, quarter by profitable quarter, was not enough last year for Scott Carmilani, the quiet and self-contained 44-year-old American who lets the performance of his clumsily-named company do the talking for him.
In mid-October, Allied World completed the acquisition of the Connecticut-based Darwin Professional Underwriters for $550m in cash. Darwin offers a wide array of specialty and primary professional lines coverages, including an industry-leading health care professional liability franchise and a niche errors and omissions division. It has also developed a business and technology model to underwrite small professional liability businesses, which, as expected, has proven to complement Allied World’s large account, specialty insurance and reinsurance strategy.
Next stop, probably, a Lloyd’s reinsurance component.
Headquartered in Bermuda, Allied World was formed by AIG, Chubb and Goldman Sachs in 2001. Carmilani, an AIG man since 1987, has been at the Allied World helm since January 2004.
35(35) Yassir Albaharna CEO, Arab Insurance Group (Arig)
This Bahraini national has changed the face of Arig. With an open and outward-looking view of the world, he was tasked with bringing Arig back into control after over-expansion into the West during the 1990s.
He joined Arig when he was 23, becoming CEO in 2003. Under the 46-year-old’s guidance, Arig has become a more focused operation and has been sitting on capital, waiting for the opportunity to deploy it when the time is right.
In 2007 he bought Scottish Re’s Middle East life portfolio, which had $22m in annual premiums. The company has been said to be looking for further opportunities in the region.
Following a full-year loss in 2008, Arig returned to profitability posting a first-quarter net profit of $1.5m backed by strong technical tesult of $8.6m across its reinsurance portfolio. The company’s investment returns remained flat and gross written premium was down 14% due to lower trading volumes in the cyclical engineering and marine lines. The company, under guidance from Albaharna, has been implementing a selective acceptance policy.
36(36) John Berger President and CEO, Harbor Point
John Berger, 56, has led Harbor Point since its establishment in Bermuda in December 2005. The company attracts the least attention of any of the Bermuda majors, which reflects Berger’s personal style – although his physical presence turns heads. He played basketball in Europe for three years after university, returning to the US to work at Prudential.
Berger was one of the original members of the F&G Re team.
He was responsible for the casualty department until 1991, when he took charge of all underwriting. He became president and CEO in 1996.
In August 1998, Berger launched Chubb Re, a subsidiary of the Chubb Corporation. He went on to form Harbor Point in December 2005. It acquired the continuing operations and certain assets, although not the in-force business or related reserves, of Chubb Re, the assumed reinsurance division of Chubb.
Since then, Berger has quietly but confidently built Harbor Point into a solid mid-sized operation that could figure on either side of the consolidation equation in the year ahead.
37(39) Hemant Shah President and CEO, Risk Management Solutions
Don’t be misled by Shah’s youthful exterior. At 42 he might be the youngest CEO in our list but he’s also one of the most accomplished. On graduating from Stanford University, he helped to found RMS in 1989 at a time when catastrophe modelling was virtually unheard of. Just three years later Hurricane Andrew was a turning point that encouraged insurers to better understand their catastrophe exposures.
With both a deep technical knowledge of the modelling industry and the ability to communicate his products, Shah has built RMS into a force to be reckoned with. But he is not complacent.
With seemingly tireless enthusiasm for what he does, he is determined to not just improve the models but to better communicate how they should be used.
He took on the critics following the active hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, and RMS has since strived to improve both the models and the data sets that go into them. But the warning, as ever, is “users beware”, as Hurricane Ike with its large footprint demonstrated all too well last summer.
38(37) Dr Ewart Brown Premier, Bermuda
Bermuda’s no-nonsense leader inspires fear as well as respect.
Politics is in Ewart Brown’s blood. His mother and aunt were both MPs. The young Brown studied in the US where he became a doctor. But he gave up his medical practice and American citizenship in the 1990s to return to Bermuda.
He became leader of the centre-left Progressive Labour Party in 2006, winning a general election the next year. Aged 63, he says he will quit politics in October next year.
He was involved in a political row last spring when he accepted four detainees from Guantanamo Bay without first advising the British (but doing a big favour for the US Administration at a sensitive time for Bermuda-US relations). Brown wants independence anyway for the tiny British colony of 62,000 people. The majority of Bermudians are against him on this. Brown has no beef with the (re)insurance companies that feed Bermuda, recognising their importance especially now that the tourism industry has declined. His work permit time limit policies have been criticised, but there are numerous exceptions to them.
39(38) Robin Spencer-Arscott Chairman, World Insurance Forum
A Bermuda insurance market player almost since its inception, Robin Spencer-Arscott is probably best known for creating the World Insurance Forum. Taking the event out of Bermuda last year for the first time, to Dubai, was a gutsy move, aimed at establishing a truly global brand. The venue for the 2010 event is not yet known, but the smart money says it might go back to Bermuda.
The dapper 68-year-old served as president and CEO of Frank B Hall (Bermuda), which became a unit of AON. Spencer-Arscott then became chairman of its Bermuda group. He was later president and CEO of Cyrus Reinsurance II, an XL Capital sidecar now in run-off. His son Steven also supports the Bermuda market, from AAC Saatchi & Saatchi.
Today, Spencer-Arscott’s main thrust is as deputy chair of AAA Risk Solutions and a Director of Torus Insurance (Bermuda).
He co-founded the World Insurance Forum in 1993 with Suzie Pewter of the Whitfield Group. Held every two years, it attracts the biggest names in the reinsurance industry from around the globe.
40(40) Robert Hartwig President, the Insurance Information Institute
Since joining the III in 1998, Robert Hartwig has become a widely recognised face in the insurance industry. A former senior economist for Swiss Re, he is a respected voice on matters affecting the property casualty insurance industry – particularly on his home turf in the US – and is regularly called to testify in Washington on behalf of the industry. From terrorism insurance and homeowner rate rises to climate change and catastrophes, Hartwig, 45, is not afraid of controversy.
He believes those who build homes on beaches and barrier islands in hurricane-prone states should be prepared to pay a premium that reflects the risk.
But he recognises the political difficulties inherent in the US state-led regulatory system.
Most recently, Hartwig has been full of praise for the industry’s performance through the financial crisis which he attributes to “a deeply entrenched and conservative operating philosophy that leads directly to superior risk management strategies. Insurers run their business under the assumption that every day is a potential doomsday – because it is.”