The International Insurance Society’s president talks us through his career highs and lows

How did you get to where you are today?

A combination of ‘outside looking in’ jobs, such as insurance investment banker, consultant, and ‘inside looking out’ jobs such as life insurance company president.

How has the industry changed?

It’s more professionally managed, has dramatically better management information systems, more focus on capital management, a more global outlook, and is more beholden to regulators and rating agencies.

What are the key challenges ahead?

Fending off regulatory attempts to view insurers’ risks and capital requirements like that of banks and investment firms; dealing with a slower-growth global economy; and earning decent returns from low-interest-rate portfolios.

What are the biggest opportunities?

Emerging markets such as Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

What’s been your biggest mistake?

Not developing a facility with foreign languages, as most Europeans and Asians have done.

What are you most proud of?

Spending 40 years in global insurance with a reputation for integrity among industry leaders.

What comes to mind when you think of friends or contemporaries in the market?

A dedicated group of men and women who are sincerely interested not just in selling policies and paying claims when losses occur, but striving to mitigate and eliminate risk from an increasingly risky world – a great service to our society.

What do you do to relax?

Recline my seat, lower my tray table and read from my Kindle as soon as the pilot says so.

Michael Morrissey is president and chief executive of the International Insurance Society