Brace for change.
That’s the underlying message of two scheduled presentations highlighting next month’s National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices, Ltd. annual meeting agenda–one to be delivered by a 43-year veteran of the industry, William R. Berkley, and the other to come from Adam Stafford, senior project manager of market operations for Lloyd’s, a centuries-old institution.
While the talk by the chair of Greenwich, Conn.-based W.R. Berkley Corp. (scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 13) will focus on some potentially negative changes–the uncertain risks of a changing world–he is also likely to share his prediction of the single biggest positive change that NAPSLO members have been anticipating: a cycle turn.
As was the case in a recent NU interview, Mr. Berkley can be easily coaxed to outline the reasoning behind his two-year-old prediction that the cycle will turn by year-end 2010. “Could it be 2011 before it happens? Surely, but there’s no question that pricing is inadequate,” he told NU earlier this month. “Price levels are effectively where they were in 2000,” he said, giving one reason he believes the turn is not far away.
Mr. Stafford also promises to bring news of positive developments coming before the year is out during his 1 p.m. presentation on Oct. 11–the opening day of the three-day NAPSLO meeting in Atlanta.
According to Mr. Stafford, Lloyd’s is truly breaking free of its well-known attraction to reams of paper and trying to put an end to multiple and varying data requests for different bits of information, often on the same contract, coming from different corners of the market.
Explaining that data sought by London underwriters from U.S. distribution partners falls into three buckets–risk information, premium information and claims information–he said a property-catastrophe risk standard has already been developed.
“That is now live,” he said, stressing that this standard, as well as the others in the works, are ACORD standards.
“Lloyd’s needs to speak the same language as other markets do. We’re not good at that at the moment,” he told members of Kansas City, Mo.-based NAPSLO during a July 13 webinar. “We offer a lot of ‘bespoke’ information,” he said (using a British term meaning custom-made to a buyer’s specification), adding that “we need to be speaking in a standard language. In the insurance world [that means] conforming with ACORD,” he said.
(See related article, “Lloyd’s Breaking Free Of Paper Shuffle With U.S. E&S Partners,” for an update on the progress of the London initiative to standardize collection of data for U.S. E&S risks in the next edition of NU’s E&S/Specialty Lines E&S Extra.)
Unlike the deliberate plans to move Lloyd’s forward, some changes that will impact NAPSLO members over the next few months and years are unplanned, and Mr. Berkley said the bulk of his remarks will likely touch upon those types of challenges.
“The world is changing so fast [that] we don’t know what the world is going to be like” in October, he said, promising to pay attention to events that unfold over the next few weeks as he prepares for his lecture.
“I’m sure I’ll talk somewhat about the volatility of the world, the various issues of risk and how all risk is interrelated,” he said.
“I’ll also talk about how and why the property and casualty insurance business was able to get through these difficult times” over the past few years “without sustaining the kinds of debacles that most of the rest of the [financial services] industry suffered through,” he said.
Sandwiched between the Lloyd’s presentation and Mr. Berkley’s keynote address will be networking opportunities and a Tuesday afternoon panel discussion featuring members of the NAPSLO board and the board of NAPSLO’s Next Generation group. The Next Generation group works to help advance the careers of younger NAPSLO members and to get the next generation–employees under age 40–involved with NAPSLO functions and committees, among other things.
Panel topics will be focused on hiring practices of NAPSLO members firms–younger vs. older, experienced vs. inexperienced, outside industries vs. insiders–while keeping with a broader conference theme, “Adding Value, Promoting Growth.”
Mr. Berkley weighed in on the conference theme during an in-depth phone interview with NU last month, describing strategies that have set the stage for growth of profitable business and the ways in which great wholesalers add value to the specialty insurance business.
“In 1973 when I first got in the insurance business, one of the first things I was told was there would be no more wholesalers within 10 years. It was explicit,” he told NU.
“Since that time, wholesalers have a larger share of the market than they did. What really happened is wholesalers no longer offered all products. They instead have become specialists and offer specialty products,” Mr. Berkley said. “So the more expertise that’s required in the insurance business–which I think is increasing–the more valuable wholesalers become.”
Asked to deliver some words of advice to wholesalers, he observed that layers make it more difficult to deliver products or information to the ultimate customer. “But that’s the difference between great wholesalers and not great ones. Great wholesalers are transparent and help deliver the message and make it more functional, and other wholesalers create dysfunctions.”
More details of the interview will be published in an article profiling Mr. Berkley and his career building the company he founded into the 21st ranked insurance group in the nation in the Oct. 12 edition of NAPSLO Daily, a convention newsletter published by NU, which will be distributed at on site at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
For more information on the technology project, a replay of Mr. Stafford’s presentation during a July 13 webinar is available at http://bit.ly/cTt26A. The webinar was sponsored by the Retail Agent E&S Initiative–a collaboration of the Independent Agents and Brokers of America’s Agents Council for Technology, the American Association of Managing General Agents, NAPSLO and ACORD, and which now has Lloyd’s as a member.
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Schedule At A Glance
What’s On The NAPSLO Meeting Agenda?
Networking activities and three special programs highlight the early October meeting agenda for the NAPSLO annual convention, which is expected to draw more than 3,000 members.
The Convention will open this year on a Monday, Oct. 11 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
The Opening Reception will take place at the Hyatt, and all other functions will take place at the Marriott.
Some meeting highlights include:
Monday, October 11
- 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.: Brokers’ Lounge Open
- 1:00 p.m-2:00 p.m.: London Technology Update–Standardizing Data Transfer Across The Pond
- 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Opening Reception
Tuesday, October 12
- 7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.: Brokers’ Lounge Open
- 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Next Generation Panel
- 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.: Next Generation Cocktail Reception
Wednesday, October 13
- 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Brokers’ Lounge Open
- 9:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m.: Opening Remarks & Welcome, Presidential Address
- 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Derek Hughes/NAPSLO Educational Foundation Lecture–Guest Speaker William R. Berkley, W.R. Berkley Corp.
- 10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m.: Internship Recognition/2010 Legacy Project
- 10:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Annual Business Meeting
Visit NAPSLO’s website at www.napslo.org for a complete schedule.