IQ Autumn 2018

French composer Erik Satie once likened his magnificent Gymnopédies piano variations to the experience of an observer walking slowly around a statue, describing what they see.

The mental picture you are painting is the same, but as your viewpoint changes, so does your perspective – some things come into view while other elements recede and then disappear. Thus the image changes subtly as you circle.

Satie understood that lot depends on your point of view. Were he around today I would have offered him a commission for this autumn’s IQ like a shot.

Reading our quartet of brilliant main features one after the other may provoke this reaction: What a great industry we live in. What a world. What a place to develop a career. What abundant opportunities that stretch out a lifetime!

Or this: What a failing industry. What a world. What a place to try to carve out a career. Dwindling opportunities that will diminish day by day!

As I said, it does depend on where you are looking from.

One thing’s for sure. There has never been a better time to be an insurance journalist – the sculpture that we are circling is evolving at such a rate that by the time we have completed a full circuit, it has changed.

It’s as if the sculptor was a restless soul, who, as soon as we are out of sight, takes up her hammer and starts chiselling furiously away at her work. She is never satisfied. Even if the piece is in a museum she is dying to sneak in and start re-defining her oeuvre.

So what you have before you are sketches of different limbs and vital organs, facial features and distinguishing marks.

These four speeding horsemen of the apocalypse – (or four pillars of the establishment – you will have to make up your own mind) provide you with a snapshot of how our sector is evolving today and what opportunities and threats it is facing:

The existential debate over reinsurance, the InsurTech phenomenon, an in-depth interview and dissection of MGAs with one of the industry’s greatest entrepreneurs and a deep dive into a reloaded and resurgent ILS world post-HIM.

Any one of these could have graced the front cover of the magazine. It is quite a gallery show.

We have had an abundant creative harvest after a long, hot summer of pacing round and around with our sketch books.

But all four are variations on the same thing.

Just like a Satie composition, everything is connected to the same body, but that body is different every time you look.

It all boils down to where and how value is best being added in our industry.

Our sector is all about sourcing, distributing, understanding, pricing and covering risk. To do this, you need marketing reach, risk selection skill and risk insight that helps the customer. And of course you need capital; either that, or highly reliable access to capital.

You need to be competitive and efficient and you need to know how to optimise your returns without surprising or indeed burning your capital partnerships.

You cannot stand still for a minute.

You must keep walking around the body and spotting where you can make useful adjustments that smooth or improve the whole.

Welcome to the insurance sector in 2018 – it’s scary and exciting in equal measure.

To read the Autumn 2018 issue of IQ, please click here.

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