Access Re's Enda McDonnell doesn't suffer fools gladly

How did you make it to where you are today?

Through education, hard work, creative thinking, a sense of humour, willingness to take a calculated risk and an ability to listen.

How has the industry changed?

There is more use of analytics and technology, but the importance of personal relationships and understanding clients’ needs is the same.

What are the key challenges for you and the industry?

The risk of politicians interfering with common-sense business solutions; global warming; the world recession and manipulation of currencies.

And what are the biggest opportunities?

Global warming, which will result in a greater need for catastrophe reinsurance.

What advice would you give to someone starting in (re)insurance broking?

Educate yourself by earning professional qualifications. Also, you have two ears and one mouth: use them proportionately.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Trusting that people will do what they say they will do. My philosophy is: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!”

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

Reinsurance is a unique industry where business competitors can also be your personal friends.

What do you do to relax?

I like a lively conversation with friends and family over a nice bottle of wine and good food; a competitive game of golf; and I’m encouraging people to shave their heads for the Californian charity, which fights childhood cancer.

Enda McDonnell is president and chief executive of reinsurance broker Access Re