The Intelligent Quarterly from the publishers of The Insurance Insider

Summer 2018

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The Insurance Insider Monte Carlo 2017 Day 4

This is my 13th straight Rendez-Vous. I have become an RVS teenager.

When I was a broker I was never senior enough to come here, but as soon as I began to write about the industry, it became compulsory.

As a (re)insurance publication, we couldn't exist if we didn't show our face. Tongues would wag and rumours would fly. In any case, we wouldn't miss it for the world.

As journalists, we have everything we want. We have a ready-made readership, a huge group of industry leaders to talk to and plenty of distraction and entertainment to keep our restless minds occupied.

Also, for four or five days a year we get to pretend we own this amazing place and live lives of almost pure fantasy. Bar the odd spectacular thunderstorm, the weather is usually pleasant too.

It is tempting to complain that the principality is too flashy and expensive and that we should move on somewhere else. Indeed, by Wednesday morning that is a common gripe.

But the difference in cost between here and any major alternative city is a rounding error for our sector, and you just can't match 61 years of accumulated history.

Everyone has their favourite corner of this place and even three years of major building work has done little to dent its ability to accommodate the industry with relative ease.

I used to think that Monte Carlo had kidnapped us and our attachment to the event was a manifestation of Stockholm syndrome, where a long-term captive falls in love with their captor.

But in fact, Monte Carlo only reflects what we project onto it - it moulds itself to us, not the other way around.

At our core, we are an industry of longstanding habits and relationships and we have a particularly long and deep connection with this place that couldn't be replicated elsewhere.

Here, positions are hard won and territories fiercely defended once they have been secured.

Rights of tenure on prime real estate command extremely high values. It also takes time to fathom how to get things done.

Just like in our market, these high expenses and esoteric practices work as a protective barrier to entry for the uninitiated.

Warren Buffett often speaks of preferring to invest in businesses that have a deep and wide moat around them.

Sometimes at the RVS I think that the defensive reinsurance moat is filled to the brim with champagne.

But cost aside, the Rendez-Vous is an annual physical manifestation of our global marketplace and is something that adds a huge amount of value.

London and Bermuda market practitioners well understand the value of a cluster effect, and for a few days a year we replicate that sense of community and ecosystem here.

A new member of staff may arrive knowing little of our sector, but they leave cracking jokes about reinstatements.

If it didn't exist we would have to invent it.

So I may be turning 13, but in Monte terms this hasn't presaged a sudden switch to volatile moodiness and rebellion.

Everything here is so compressed and accelerated that Monte Carlo years are worth four human ones.

Here, 13 marks the mellowness and maturity of prime middle age.

I am finally a Rendez-Vous-er who is happy with his lot.

So goodbye to the Irma Rendez-Vous. See you at the 62nd (and my 14th) RVS in 2018.

To read the last of our daily issues from Monte Carlo for 2017, please click here.

Mark Geoghegan,
Managing Director,
Insider Publishing

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