In a thrilling, hotly-contested, bad-tempered, controversial series, the London Market retained the Ashes over the summer, winning the renewal season 3-0.
In a devastating spell of fast underwriting, London Market underwriters decimated the Australian market. Cheering crowds saw the London Market grow its capacity dramatically in the lead up to renewals. The plucky London Market team then proceeded to accumulate premium on the first morning of the test match, eventually declaring “an excellent renewal season”.
The series was beset with controversy, not least over referrals which were eventually banned. It also saw some dangerous short-term underwriting which could result in some heavy losses. There were some ugly scenes when a broker refused to walk to the market, preferring electronic underwriting. The Australian team, for many years dominant, crass and arrogant, called the now dominant London Market “crass and arrogant.”
The Ashes series was conceived in 1882 when an Australian insurance company took some marine business from the London Market for the first time. The term Ashes originated in a satirical obituary published in The Sporting Times, which stated that ‘utmost good faith’ had died, “deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing underwriters and brokers”, and that “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”
UEFA to move rendez-vous date
The new chairman of the English FA (Financial Authority) has set a target for the London Market to be the leading reinsurance market by 2022. In an inaugural speech, he said that changes were needed in market practice to achieve this, including the setting up of actuarial academies, and a quota share system that would limit foreign players in the London Market. Many observers believe that having so many foreign players in the market was having an adverse effect, and many English players had to be content with being in the lower tier of the market.
One suggestion for improving the London Market was to introduce a winter break in January, as happens already in much of Europe, to ensure players in the market are well rested for the really big events. The head of UEFA (Union of European Financial Authorities), Michel Platitude, said that one way to achieve this would be to move the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous to January, thus forcing a break on the market. “No one works at Monte, and for at least a couple of weeks after,” he said. “It is normal in Europe and elsewhere to take a break in January, after all the stress and hard work from meeting the January 1 renewal deadline.”
However, some brokers have their doubts about the move. “I’m not sure,” said one. “It’s a good idea in principle, but there are some tricky issues. I mean having a Rendez-Vous in order to discuss renewals should probably be before 1 January. I’m just saying…”
Another said Monte Carlo had to come before Baden-Baden, “otherwise what it is the point? We might as well ditch them both and just call people up and have meetings the way we do the rest of the year, and agree renewal terms. Actually, that’s not a bad idea…”
Platitude said that the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous would still come before Baden-Baden and the January 1 renewal deadline. “It would just be a long time before them. Like nine months before BB. That should be enough for livers to recover and expense accounts to be refilled,” he said.
Nobby listed as systemically important institution
Mocha Re chief executive Sir Norbert “Nobby” Johnson has been added to the list of global systemically important institutions or GSIIs. The International Association of Insurance Supervisors defines GSIIs as “institutions of such size, market importance and global interconnectedness that their distress or failure would cause dislocation in the global financial system and adverse economic consequences across a range of countries”.
According to the Association of Reinsurance Supervisory Entities (ARSE), Sir Nobby qualifies as a global systemically important institution on account of his waist size, market self-importance and global interconnectedness – the latter through his various holiday homes in Tuscany, Provence, Gstaad, the Seychelles and elsewhere.
ARSE said that without Sir Nob’s hospitality activities at Monte Carlo, Baden-Baden, PCI and many other conferences and meetings, severe distress could be caused to global insurance markets.
The Nobster said he was “chuffed to bits”, “very excited” and “not a little humble” at the news, later adding: “What exactly is one of these GTI chappies? Is there any cash involved?”
A spokesman speaking out of ARSE’s headquarters said it was looking at other potential industry GSIIs including the casinos at Monte Carlo and Baden-Baden, Balls Brothers (Leadenhall Market branch), and Spearmint Rhino.