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EC News (9 April 2020)

April 09, 2020

Round-up of the weekly news and developments from the global (re)insurance market with stories from Ageas UK, Gallagher, QBE Insurance Group and more.

Ageas UK CEO Watson steps down, successor named

Multinational insurer Ageas announced Andy Watson is to step down from his role as chief executive officer of Ageas UK at the end of June 2020 and will be succeeded by Ant Middle.

Watson has decided to step down to embark on the next stage of his life including further education and securing a small portfolio of non-executive roles. Watson will remain with the business until the end of June to ensure a smooth handover to Middle who will take up the position from 1 June 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

Since deciding to step down last year, Andy has been working closely with the executive team at Ageas Group to support a smooth handover to his successor.

Watson joined Ageas in 2010 as managing director of its retail arm and became CEO for Ageas UK in 2013.

Middle joined the business as managing director of Partnerships in 2014. In his time with the business he has played a pivotal role in the development of Ageas’ relationships in the broker and intermediated market, as well as overseeing the launch of Ageas as a direct brand.

Bart De Smet, CEO Ageas Group said: “The Board welcomes Ant to the position of CEO. With Ant, we have appointed a leader with a broad background and knowledge of the industry, combined with familiarity of the business and strong and established industry relationships with brokers and partners. His significant leadership experience and passion for the business means he is well positioned to drive the business forward and navigate the opportunities and challenges facing the UK insurance market.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Andy for his commitment to leading the UK business over the last 10 years, in what have been very challenging market conditions. While we are very sorry to see Andy leave, we recognise the significant contribution he has made to the business and the industry as a whole. He leaves the business with our best wishes for his future endeavours.”

Watson added: “It has been a privilege to be at the head of Ageas UK for over seven years. During my tenure I have been fortunate to enjoy the support of the Board, the senior team and, indeed, all colleagues, and that support has always been valued and very much appreciated.”

“Together, we have progressed the business, implemented huge amounts of change, and ensured that Ageas UK continues to compete hard, in one of the most competitive insurance markets in the world. The intermediated channel continues to be, by some way, our biggest, and I want also to acknowledge the support of our brokers and other trading partners.”

Middle shared: “I’m delighted to succeed Andy and to lead Ageas in the UK. It’s a business that I’m passionate about, and the last few weeks in particular have underlined why. The care and commitment our people show is what makes Ageas stand out, and I am proud to be taking over a business that is so dedicated to delivering for our customers, our brokers and partners, our shareholders and each other.”

Gallagher appoints broking & placement managing director

Insurance broker Gallagher has announced that Simon Collins will be appointed managing director of the broking and placing team within its UK Retail Division.

Collins succeeds Mark Armitage, who retired at the end of March after seven years at the firm.

In his new role, Collins will be responsible for overseeing Gallagher’s national broking strategy and placement activities working closely with the regional directors. The team is responsible for the placement of corporate UK and international insurance for new and existing clients and managing insurer relationships.

He brings over three decades of insurance experience and joined Gallagher in 2017 as market management director, UK retail. Before joining the insurance broker, he held senior positions at Marsh, JLT and Miller in placement roles.

Collings said: “Having been part of Gallagher since 2017, I’m delighted to have the opportunity now to take the helm of this team, following in the footsteps of Mark Armitage, who has been instrumental in overseeing Gallagher’s strategic placement direction over recent years.

“The ability to broker the best deals for our clients is vital in order to retain and develop new business. I look forward to working with our regional teams to build our existing broking capabilities, strengthen our insurer relationships and develop new products.”

Michael Rea, CEO, Gallagher’s UK Retail Division, added: “Simon has long-standing insurer relationships and expertise in managing risks for clients from a range of industries, and will play a pivotal role in steering our regional broking and placement teams to deliver insurance solutions that mitigate complex risks facing our clients.

“Investing in talent is an important part of our long-term growth strategy – and I am very pleased that we have made this key leadership appointment from within our existing team.”

Jason Harris joins QBE as CEO, International

QBE Insurance Group named Jason Harris as chief executive officer, international, taking over from Richard Pryce who plans to retire at the end of this year.

Harris will join the business in Q4 2020 and work on a smooth transition with Pryce. He will be based in QBE’s London office and join the QBE group executive committee reporting to Pat Regan, Group CEO.

He joins the business from AXA XL where he held the position of chief executive, global property and casualty with responsibility for Financial Lines, Construction, Engineering, ART and Risk Engineering.

Before this, he was the chief executive international property and casualty at XL in the UK with responsibility for their Property & Liability business outside of North America.

Prior to this Harris worked at AIG/Chartis Insurance in several senior roles including executive director, Commercial Lines.

Regan shared: "Jason has a very strong background in people leadership, business performance and underwriting. His broad global commercial lines experience equips him well to oversee the continued success of our International Operations, which are core to our global business".

"I am confident that Jason will continue to build the technical expertise and customer focus we are known for. I am excited to have Jason as part of our team.”

He added: "We have been actively working with Richard on his succession planning as he prepared for his retirement. I am delighted to announce that Jason Harris has accepted the role of CEO International. Jason will commence in Q4 2020, subject to the required regulatory approvals, and Richard will leave QBE in early 2021".

"Richard has been an integral member of the Group Executive Committee, very successfully leading our European Operations and more recently the newly created International Division. He has been a huge source of advice and wise counsel to me. I will miss him greatly and wish him the very best in his retirement."

SSL Endeavour appoints new CEO & deputy chair

Specialist independent Lloyd’s broker and delegated authority expert SSL Endeavour has added Mike Reynolds as group CEO. Current group CEO of SSL Endeavour David Lawrence has been appointed as group deputy chairman, both effective immediately.

Reynolds joins the business with more than 20 years’ experience in leadership roles within the (re)insurance sector. He most recently served as CEO of JLT Re and prior to this held the position of group finance director of JLT Group plc. He has also held chief financial officer roles at ACE Europe and Aon Benfield.

Lawrence’s new position of group deputy chairman will allow him to focus on continuing to manage and expand the businesses production portfolio. He will have a specific focus on the existing wholesale business in North America and the development of the company’s overseas platforms.

Jonathan Palmer-Brown, chairman of SSL Endeavour, commented: “SSL Endeavour is privileged to have an outstanding team of brokers and professionals focused on the well-being of their clients as we all face challenging times.

“I am pleased to welcome Mike to lead this team; I am confident that he will bring energy and determination to inspire and nurture our client relationships as well as our colleagues as we all work towards one common goal. I’d also like to thank David for his leadership and am looking forward to working with him on building our future.”

Lawrence said: “I would personally like to welcome Mike Reynolds to our business and I look forward to working with him to build on SSL Endeavour’s previous successes.”

While Reynolds added: “I am committed to seeing SSL Endeavour deliver excellent service to our client base. With the support of Jonathan Palmer-Brown and David Lawrence combined with our outstanding team, I am excited about the future of SSL Endeavour.”

AXIS Re names Mark Julian as chief pricing actuary

AXIS Re, the reinsurance arm of AXIS Capital Holdings Limited, announced the appointment of Mark Julian to the newly created position of chief pricing actuary, effective 20 April 2020.

Based in London he will become a member of the Reinsurance Leadership Team and report to Steve Arora, AXIS Re CEO.

In his new role, Julian will be responsible for overseeing AXIS Re’s actuarial pricing and catastrophe modeling team, which have been combined into a new Reinsurance Pricing operational division.

Julian joins the firm from Tokio Millennium Re, where he most recently served as CEO and head of branch for its UK business. Prior to this he held the position of group head of pricing where he led a global team of 45 actuaries and catastrophe modelers. Before that Julian worked at Tokio Millennium Re’s UK chief actuary and chief risk officer.

Arora, AXIS Re’s CEO said: “Mark is an accomplished reinsurance leader, possessing both breadth in experience and depth in the actuarial and catastrophe modeling functions. His technical leadership will make us stronger, and I am excited about the elevation of this function within our organization.”

Dale Underwriting adds Jim Ramage to the Board

Dale Underwriting has appointed Jim Ramage as an independent non-executive director to the Board of the holding company, Dale Partners Limited, effective 1st April 2020.

Ramage brings more than five decades of London market experience to this role and during his tenure, he has held several positions such as active underwriter and director of underwriting operations, as well as numerous senior level director positions with (re)insurance brokers. These include serving as director and deputy chief executive officer at Guy Carpenter and director at JLT Re where he played a pivotal role in establishing the broking business.

Duncan Dale, CEO and active underwriter, commented: “Jim has a wealth of experience as a director and a successful track record in launching and running broking and underwriting firms. His entrepreneurial spirit will be crucial in driving our business forward and we will benefit greatly from his expertise. We look forward to welcoming him to the board.”

Ramage added: “I am delighted to be joining the board and working closely with the team at Dale Partners Limited as they continue to develop their business and strengthen their position within Lloyd’s and the London market.”