Kent spies opportunities despite challenges

These are exciting times for the re/insurance industry, with Willis Re’s group chief executive adamant that while challenges do exist in the market, there is also considerable opportunity. Speaking to Reactions during the 2018 Mont Carlo Rendez-Vous de Septembre, James Kent admitted there are challenges facing his firm and the wider industry, but that the potential to grow the business is also very strong. “You hear about disruption, the high expenses, pricing and the threat from ILS, and while these things are all influences, the opportunity is better than we have seen for a number of years,” Kent said. “That’s both for Willis Re and the industry in general. Reinsurance, as an earnings management tool and by matching pools of risk with pools of capital, is more efficient than it was. The pools of risk are becoming broader, whether that’s emerging lines or emerging geographies, and you’ve also got a group of CEOs throughout the industry helping drive insurance as a way of managing the protection gap further influenced by regulation.” “There are all these dynamics going on, and is it challenging and are there other threats out there? Yes, of course. It would be absurd of me to sit here and say there aren’t. But at the same time, I look at our international business, our London specialty business and our North American business and I see opportunities to grow. When we’re growing, it will indicate that many of our clients are growing as well. “It’s a very difficult, very challenging environment but very exciting.” One of the more interesting growth opportunities Willis Re is currently investigating is in the life reinsurance market. Following from the merger with Towers Watson, Willis Re now has access to what Kent termed “a leading global actuarial practice for life business” to support its efforts in the life reinsurance space. “Life business as a whole isn’t new – the industry has been bifurcated between P&C and life – but brokers haven’t gone to the life side because they don’t have the tools or resources to help the clients. That has changed fundamentally. Now, we have the ability to understand that risk,” said Kent. He added: “Life is a growth area for us. It’s a very different market for us. A lot of the opportunity we see is being driven by solvency requirements. We’ve hired a new head of life in EMEA to support our established practices in both Asia Pacific and the US. “We’re seeing opportunity in all three regions representing a verifiable diversifying line of business for both the broker and reinsurer market.”

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