Sergey Nivens /
26 June 2014News

Geographical hubs 'irrelevant' to innovation

While global insurance hubs such as London (including the Lloyd’s market) and Bermuda remain at the forefront of industry innovation, times are changing and the location of people’s desks is less important than it once was.

That was one of the conclusions of a panel discussion comprising several chief executives held on Tuesday at the International Insurance Society’s annual event in London.

Vincent Vandendael, director of international markets at Lloyd’s, said London remains a powerhouse of innovation in the industry and consistently attracts top talent. But he also noted that Lloyd’s understands that the balance of the world economies is shifting and it is responding to this by investing in a Lloyd’s presence in parts of Asia, the Middle East and South America.

“Our vision is to be the global centre of choice for specialist insurance and reinsurance business. But we also realise world moving and we need to adapt and ensure we have a strong presence in new markets like China, Brazil and Mexico. That is where we will need additional underwriting staff in the future.”

Albert Benchimol, chief executive of AXIS Capital, agreed that while London was an important hub he made the case for Bermuda also being a very important centre of innovation. But he noted that the business needs good people in many locations these days.

Denis Kessler, chief executive of SCOR, dismissed arguments about geographical hubs noting that it is the quality of people that matters more than where they are based.

“The centre of innovation is the brain,” he said. “The challenge is funding them and mobilising them. We are global and there are good people everywhere.”

Vandendael agreed: “It doesn’t matter where people sit, it is about bringing good people together. If you do that in an environment where they also challenge each other, as in Lloyd’s, that drives innovation.”