Face-to-face? Not quite, but the Supercede team looks forward to seeing you ‘mask-to-mask’ in Baden-Baden next month. Have a read about what to expect, along with how reinsurance tech can help you get the most out of your conference season.
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After the unavoidable cancellation of what would have been its 42nd anniversary in 2020, the Baden-Baden reinsurance meeting is back on the agenda this year. Arguably, the conference is much older, deriving from decades of prior meetings of The German Marine Conference, which – when it changed location in 1978 – could not dissuade its regular guests from coming back to their favourite German spa town.
Here at Supercede we’re thrilled to be attending, in my case commuting directly from the finish line of the Marathon de Paris and remaining optimistic about the availability of chairs throughout the venue. Not to dismiss too quickly the significance of achieving ‘bums on seats’ at an international conference once again – perhaps only in reinsurance are we so keen to jump right back into it, and show our business partners how keen we are to work together.
Certainly the backdrop can’t be ignored. According to the World Health Organisation, there have now been more than two hundred million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and rapidly approaching five million deaths. In response, governments have administered more than five billion vaccination doses and enforced rolling programmes of lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions on international travel.
In Germany and the region of Baden-Württemberg specifically, the rules currently demand that delegates wear face masks at all times, maintain a distance of 1.5m from one another and refrain from shaking hands. So whilst the usual agenda of speed dating across the venue and neighbouring restaurants, cafes and hotels will continue, it will be more mask-to-mask for now, rather than face-to-face.
In neighbouring Monte Carlo, host of the arguably older Reinsurance Rendez-Vous de Septembre that had taken place without interruption since 1957, the streets of Monaco will miss the shenanigans of senior reinsurance execs for the second year in a row. Despite a prior claim to be ‘undoubtedly one of the safest places on the planet’, the criteria for safety has changed, and the organisers of a conference boasting three thousand guests from more than eighty countries felt that as things stand, it remains too early to reopen.
Other major events are biding their time, perhaps watching to see how Baden-Baden gets on with breaking the ice of IRL (“in-real-life”) relationships frozen in time for eighteen months. Singapore’s SIRC is tentatively preparing to gather its attendees offline, after a virtual version in 2020, while key North American conferences such as APCIA, NAMIC and CRC can proceed, but with a more limited local audience due to restrictions on inbound overseas travellers.
Industry conference organisers and the trade press deserve a lot of credit for their rapid mobilisation of online conferencing capabilities during the pandemic. SIRC Re-Mind and Insider ReConnect have been particular highlights for a reinsurance community otherwise deprived of the familiar, collectivised experience of building up to 1/1 renewals together. Rumour has it that Dubai will also be launching a hybrid reinsurance conference in 2022, bringing together the best of virtual and in-person.
In the longer term, though, it seems unlikely that screen-based conferencing will cut the mustard : after all, we are an industry that likes to see the whites of the eyes as we squeeze hands on deals that can make or break our companies. The strength of a promise to pay, broke and claim with integrity is built on more than the dancing pixels of a ‘thumbs up’ on a computer monitor; and for many of us it will take more than an echoey voice through headphones or speakers to let us sleep easy at night.
It’s no secret that reinsurance is a people industry. And, we are guilty of relying on ‘who we know’ not because there is a gap in what we know, but because as well as valuing risk, we value trust : a commodity earned painstakingly by individuals who walk the walk, as well as talking the talk; year after year, after year.
Supercede was born in the reinsurance industry, founded by a reinsurance broker and underwriter, who wanted better tools for managing data, administrating deals and growing relationships. We share the same people-first attitude, both in terms of how we run our business and how we build our solutions. And as we’ve grown, bringing in practitioners from around the industry is something we continue to focus on, enabling them to bring their experience to bear, whilst keeping us honest about what really matters to reinsurance people.
Buyers, brokers and underwriters are not costs to be disintermediated. They are value to be maximised. And in great reinsurance technology lies the secret sauce to empowering those reinsurance people to do their best work, wherever in the world that takes them.
We asked around for a few scenarios where our community thought they could get more out of their pre-renewal conference season. If any resonate with you, look out for the Supercede team at Baden Baden: we’ll be on hand to help fill in the blanks (and fill up your coffee cup or glass).
“Is the book getting heavier or lighter? How’s the average line size changing?”
“Erm… let me ask and I’ll get back to you in a week or two”.
Bit of a classic here. Knowing what’s actually going on in the portfolio up for reinsurance – whether you’re the cedent, the broker, or the underwriter – always seems more difficult than expected for a deal worth (tens of) millions. Wouldn’t it be great if you already knew the answers to these questions, and could build your narrative accordingly?
If you want to get your head around submission packs in advance, with key performance indicators for portfolios ahead of otherwise difficult discussions, look no further than Supercede’s automated Analytics software. With clarity for all parties, you can skip the annual interrogation and focus on building relationships with digitally validated, actuarial-grade submission pack data at your fingertips.
“How much business do we do with these guys? I have a meeting with their CEO tomorrow”
“Erm… let me stay up all night (to give you a very, very approximate answer)”
Likewise, an enduring problem: nobody knows how much business they do with each other, and nothing ever seems to reconcile. With so much fragmentation between systems, regions and product teams, it’s not surprising. You need an agnostic system for managing your deal data, whether you’re a cedent, broker or reinsurer, so that everything is in one place regardless of source and counterparty.
It’s hard to exercise leverage, to push for more, or to lean towards less, if you have a limited view of your deal data. That’s why Supercede Placements gives you a single, consistent view of your deals across your entire book of business. Lines and liabilities, granular and aggregated, now IRT (“in-real-time”).
“Who’s on the slip? Do we know anyone else who can take 5% of the first layer?”
“Erm… let me find the expiring contract… and I’ll ask around, who knows!”
Matchmaking is a critical part of the placement process. But how are you supposed to keep track of who is placing what, which underwriters have moved where, and how company appetites are changing across multiple placements? Even before the wave of new players and a wholesale redistribution of the industry’s talent, it was difficult enough to stay up to speed with your network.
Supercede helps you keep track of your existing trading partners across all of your deals, as well as helping you to discover new relationships. You can search and filter by appetite to find the people worth talking to, strike up a conversation and see whether it’s worth getting a table together at Baden-Baden. If it works out, you can add them to a deal in a click.
There’s concern that a return to face-to-face will see the industry lose its progress towards digital, but it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion. Yes, there’s been a lot of video calling: but has it made us better at buying, broking or underwriting reinsurance? Has it helped us provide a better experience to our trading partners? Not really. Beyond letting us work from home more frequently, the kind of value digital can bring to reinsurance is still largely untapped (except by those firms using Supercede, of course!).
We want cedents, brokers and underwriters to understand what’s really going on in the portfolios they are reinsuring. We want dealmakers to enter every discussion with the context of their wider trading relationships at their fingertips. And we want a single place to track and manage our reinsurance networks, so that when we board a plane and brave the new normal of the reinsurance conference, we know it will be worth it.
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