2017 Power Broker

Aviation

The ‘Go-To’ Broker

Michael Calhoun
Managing Director
Aon, Chicago

Michael Calhoun is my “go-to guy for aerospace-related business,” said the vice president of administration of an aircraft manufacturer. Calhoun’s work, he said, is “extraordinarily creative” and the broker is always available whenever “a peculiar or unusual” issue might arise.

Calhoun, who is also Midwest region manager, took a lead role in negotiating and placing an aviation firm’s comprehensive insurance program after an acquisition by private equity. He also worked closely with an aircraft manufacturer through the development, testing and certification of a new airplane. And he helped a start-up drone manufacturer with a program that satisfied the demands of the company’s key vendor.

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“For me, it’s a one-man show,” said Tracy Seabaugh, director of insurance at StandardAero. “I rely on brokers a lot and he has exceeded my expectations. Our last renewal was rather complex and there were some decisions we had to make. There were some tough conversations Mike had to have with underwriters.”

“With Mike,” said Ken Ross, president of One Aviation, “you get much more personalized service than the cookie-cutter approach that many brokers take. He’s very good at creating solutions to save premium dollars and broadening the coverage we originally had.

“As a customer, I am fairly demanding,” Ross said.

“I won’t support somebody who doesn’t really deserve it. Mike really does care about his customers.”

Going Above and Beyond

Bradley Meinhardt
Area President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Las Vegas

“There’s an old saying: People can move mountains with their attitudes. Brad always has a tremendous attitude,” said Joseph Seitz, president of Chandelle Investment Corp., speaking about Bradley Meinhardt, who is also managing director of aviation.

Last year, Chandelle contracted to acquire a brand new aircraft, requiring a “substantial amount of coordination,” he said.

“There were so many parties involved. Brad did a yeoman’s job. Even at the last minute there were calls from attorneys associated with the lenders. He just handled it.”

Mike Quinn, CEO of Asia Pacific Airlines Inc. until his recent retirement, said that Meinhardt “has always been particularly attentive to our business even though I think we are probably on the smaller side of his clients. We’ve had any number of insurance issues over the years that he’s been deeply involved with to our benefit. We like him — a lot.”

When the airline recently added a 757 freighter, it required a substantial increase in coverage, and policy changes to comply with the requirements of various airports and agencies, Quinn said. Meinhardt handled the challenges with persistence and poise.

“He is always going above and beyond,” said John Buch, president, Maverick Aviation Group, “and that’s why we have stuck with him and not looked at anyone else.”

Whether it’s familiarizing underwriters with the company, finding gaps in coverage, simplifying the renewal process, attention to detail or being available for questions, Meinhardt “is always there,” Buch said.

Part of the Team

Nicholas Pooley, ACII (UK)
Senior Vice President
Marsh, New York

Whether it’s helping with contract negotiations or devising innovative solutions for cutting-edge aerospace applications, Nicholas Pooley gets the job done.

Clients applaud his talent for designing creative risk transfer solutions — even for risks that are still largely experimental.

Armed with considerable aerospace expertise, he works with forward-thinking underwriters that are open to the potential of the projects and agree to provide flexible and competitive coverage solutions.

“To me, the perfect broker is someone who takes time to know your company, to understand it and how we do business, has a great relationship with the markets and is responsive to our risks,” said the senior risk manager of a major technology company.

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“As we explore new and innovative technology, it’s incredibly important to have a broker who is engaged and understanding of privacy concerns,” she said.

Karen Kraus, global risk manager of Moog Inc., said Pooley “has been a great support.” Pooley aided her team and the company’s legal department on “some very contentious contract negotiations” as the components company dealt with contract demands from its much-larger customers.

“I view Nick as an extension of our small risk management department. It’s as if he is an employee with us. He pays attention to our company news. Sometimes, he brings things to my attention before anyone else does,” Kraus said.

Taking the Lead

Richard Terlecki, CPCU, ARM, ARe
Area Senior Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Orlando, Fla.

Clients depend on Rich Terlecki to protect their interests.

“He never tries to sell insurance,” said Stephen Duarte, director of fiscal services for Kent County, Mich. “He lays out what the problems are and some things you want to consider. If issues come up, he’s there to give you an honest answer.”

In 2016, the Gerald R. Ford Aviation Authority split off from its prior owner, Kent County, Mich. In a win-win situation, Terlecki kept the authority and county on the same insurance program.

That allowed the authority to secure the coverage it needed, which would have been impossible on a stand-alone basis. In the same stroke, the county took advantage of a highly protected property rate, which it stood to lose if the authority was not part of the program.

For Harold Blattie, executive director of Montana Association of Counties, Terlecki ensured a large claim got paid even though the property schedule listed the wrong address.

“Rich was all over that before we even knew that had happened,” said Blattie.

Terlecki also figured out how to cost-effectively procure builder’s risk and owner’s professional indemnity coverage for two successive billion-dollar capital improvement plans for an aviation authority.

“These were very complicated procurements with lots of coverage issues,” said an authority official.

“Rich took the lead and simplified it from our end.”

A Valuable Colleague

Lou Timpanaro
Senior Managing Director
Crystal & Company, New York

“You don’t get a chance to brag about the good people that often,” said Jim Tolzien, CEO of Eastern Air Lines.

But for Lou Timpanaro, he was more than willing.

“Even though Eastern Air Lines is an old brand, it was only resurrected 18 months ago. As a startup, Lou Timpanaro and Crystal & Company got the insurance markets to embrace us almost from the beginning. He has proven to be as valuable to us as anyone I can think of,” Tolzien said.

More recently, Timpanaro broached the idea of doing an early cancellation and a longer policy term to get ahead of a market that was expected to tighten, he said.

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“He was successful reducing premium almost 25 percent and renewing for an 18-month period of time,” Tolzien said. “I could not be happier.”

The CFO of a large private jet operator said Timpanaro “has earned his stripes with us,” noting that the company owns and operates 40-plus aircraft, has a fleet portfolio of nearly 1,000 aircraft and more than 5,000 clients.

Managing the insurance certifications and the required standards and qualifications is “very manually intensive,” he said.

“We are ultra-competitive,” the CFO said. “His peers are constantly trying to convince us to shift our business. The fact that he has retained us for 10 years or longer is a testament to his capabilities.”

Creative and Proactive

Ed Wagner
Senior Vice President
Marsh, Chicago

Ed Wagner “takes a super creative and proactive approach,” said the vice president of risk management at a national casino operation that operates multiple airplanes as well as drones.

“He took multiple policies, removed some gaps and condensed them into one aviation policy,” she said. “That improved coverage consistency, contract certainty and actually reduced cost in the process and increased my limits.”

“When I have an urgent request, like we have done twice this year, he’s left in the middle of his dinner to go back to his hotel room, pull up the policy and help us out,” she said.

Sally Buxman, senior manager, insurance, corporate, at AECOM, relies on Wagner’s guidance for her engineering company’s “weird aviation-related projects.”

“We use drones to go to remote places in Northwest Canada Territory and even subway tunnels in New York,” she said. “Ed knows the nuances of which carriers and markets and programs are best suited so we can get the broadest coverage at the best price.”

AECOM used to be challenged when allocating insurance premium costs for refurbishing or maintaining aircraft for federal projects, but Wagner created a spreadsheet that gave the company insight into the costs, Buxman said.

Wagner shines, she said, in getting the company the capacity and coverage AECOM needs. He was also able to put together a master program that put many of the company’s projects under one policy.

Finalist:

John Geisen
Senior Vice President, Aviation Practice Group
Aon Risk Solutions, Minneapolis

 

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now an where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]