“Conferences such as GAIF 2010 fit what we do well, because reinsurance is a people business, and we like to do business with people we know to be credible”
up Kiln’s property division at Syndicate 510, and was part of the original scouting team wowed in 2008. “We want to be more fully represented, enhance the relationships we made previously and, hopefully, make some more connections.”
From the projected record number of delegates attending, it’s clear that
there is no shortage of interest, and not just in the Middle East. Bickmore explains: “I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm for this conference. We have had Lloyd’s brokers approaching us all the time trying to arrange meetings. I suspect it’s a reflection of what people think about the opportunities in the region. I am in no doubt that there will be a number of overseas brokers there, even some from our peer group at Lloyd’s.”
Reinsurance is famously known as a business that thrives on relationship-
Capital is still king. In these straitened times, when global reinsurers are posting a mixed bag of earnings results, the impetus to seek (lucrative) pastures new is in full swing. In fact, such desire should, by now, be etched into every self-respecting company’s business plan.
Fuelling this, perhaps, is a preference to generate funds organically, rather
than through the sometimes artificial, often fraught practice of a merger or acquisition. For the reinsurance industry, the Middle East seems to be the place. For the brave and committed, the 2010 General Arabic Insurance Federation (GAIF) conference is definitely the venue.
Since 1964, GAIF, a “principal supporter of the Arab insurance industry
whose primary purpose is to strengthen pan-Arab insurance market cooperation and coordination”, has selected a country from the region to host its biennial conference, which attracts the cream of the region’s reinsurance crop. It boasts 320 members, and this year’s gathering, co-hosted by the Jordan Insurance Federation (JOIF), is number 28 in the series, and promises to be the largest and most important event yet.
The theme is ‘Secured economy, comprehensive development’, and
the record number of attendees—around 1,500 prominent local and international re/insurers, lawyers and several other service providers—is a testament to its significance.
The team at global re/insurers, Kiln are in complete accordance. “We
attended the equivalent event two years ago in Bahrain,” says Roger Bickmore, Kiln’s business development director. “We met many people over a period of a few days and decided at that time that we would follow it up by coming to the next conference.”
Kiln is part of the Tokio Marine Group and has built its business on the
strength of its underwriting and its relationships. It is also one of the largest agencies trading in the Lloyd’s insurance market, managing five syndicates, and is a recognised leader in the areas in which it operates. These include property, reinsurance, accident and health, aviation and marine. The conference, therefore, provides an important opportunity to showcase.
“We are taking three other colleagues who are specialists in accident and health, treaty and motor reinsurance,” says Robin Hargreaves, who heads
building. The organisers of this year’s conference have seized upon this by introducing a new element. GAIF secretary general Abdul Khaliq R. Khalil explains: “For the first time in the history of GAIF, there will be workshops organised on the sidelines of the event, each discussing an important issue concerning our industry.” Topics to be covered include the role of the Arab insurance industry in comprehensive development and reinforcing the capabilities of the underwriter.
Such opportunity for interaction is music to the ears for Kiln. Bickmore
explains: “We have three objectives for this conference. The first is to learn more about the market to enable us to get our database and information up to speed. The second is to build stronger relationships with the delegates, brokers and ceding companies on the ground, which we acknowledge takes a bit of time. Our final objective is to obtain some reasonable and credible business opportunities that we will be comfortable underwriting.”
These are certainly achievable goals, but the perception that there are
limitless funds in the Middle East is one that this conference seeks to address. Dr. Mohamed Jawad Hadid, president of the JOIF, observed that the conference was taking place at a time of great challenges to the economy. “Our Arab economies are in the same context and need to find the right solutions to stand strong amid the undefined global economic environment.”
Teaming up with Kiln may well be an option, but how does the firm,
whose Lloyd’s syndicates are rated ‘A+’ by Standard and Poor’s, hope to distinguish itself ? Bickmore says: “We take pride in the longevity of the relationships we form. We are well established in America and Canada, the UK and Europe, the Far East and Australia. The challenge for us now is to develop those types of relationships in this part of the world.
“But we believe that if we are given the opportunity, prospective clients will
see that we are a company that’s in it for the long run. So conferences such as GAIF 2010 fit what we do well, because reinsurance is a people business, and we like to do business with people we know to be credible.”
Robert Bickmore is the business development director. He can be contacted at: roger.bi
Middle East Report 2010 | INTELLIGENT INSURER | 17
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