Monte Carlo Roundtable 2018

You can’t beat the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous!

Look at this year's edition and you will see a roll-call of the great and the good in the global reinsurance sector.

In many ways, The Insurance Insider Roundtable has become the definitive event of the gathering.

In previous years, the discussions that have taken place around this table, tucked away in the depths of the Fairmont Hotel, have set the tone for the whole meeting, and even on occasion changed industry practice.

It’s always a lively affair. In 2010 a certain Mr Ajit Jain gave us a rare public audience and we had an interesting debate about the validity of low-tax offshore domiciles. Of course, there was no mention of the facilitisation of the market back then.

Meanwhile, in 2011, a heated disagreement between a prominent Lloyd’s CEO and a senior broker changed the way reinsurance intermediaries communicated their future price expectations.

In 2012, the room was gripped by real fear as the Eurozone crisis threatened to claim one of the PIIGS’ scalps.

Optimism returned in 2013 as we saw global growth recover and we allowed ourselves to dream of a return to real interest rates for the first time in five years.

The year 2014 saw us worry about an emerging ILS challenge, while 2015 was curiously benign and surreally tranquil.

2016 was the same. Tech disruption seemed to be the only major worry because no one could bring themselves to mention the ultra-soft market any more.

There was a change last year. We’d been whacked by Harvey and a certain Floridian storm called Irma had only landed on the Gulf Coast less than 48 hours before we sat down, but it was still too soon for opinions to be formed. The room was nervy. We didn’t know we still had Maria to come.

A year later and Florence was waiting to land and Michael wasn’t anywhere near conception, but heads were cooler.

We had a really mature and wide-ranging discussion – in fact, one of the best for many years.

We talked market discipline, the Lloyd’s crackdown, the change nature of the industry and distribution, the privatisation of risk, cyber and other emerging classes.

The tone was calm, measured and good-natured. There was a palpable sense that the market had found a way of coping with the fact that it is bumping along the bottom of a stubborn pricing cycle and prospective returns are uninviting.

There were no fractious exchanges between brokers and underwriters, nor accusations levelled against nefarious market bandits, either within the room or without.

We had found a quiet and lucid moment amid the noise and distraction of the Rendez-Vous.

Will we one day look back and see it as a distracting calm before a destructive storm, or will we feel the participants had their fingers on the pulse and were absolutely masters of their own destinies?

You can make up your own mind. It’s all here – you won’t read a truer reflection of the state of the market anywhere else.

Until next time.

To view Monte Carlo Roundtable 2018, please click here.

To visit the Advantage Go website, please click here.

Mark Geoghegan, Editorial Director, The Insurance Insider