Column: Roger's Soapbox

The Legacy of Goldfinger

By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

If someone called you a maverick, your reaction would depend entirely on your point of view. A maverick is often a lone dissenter. A person who pursues rebellious, maybe potentially disruptive, policies or ideas. We all know one. I am one.

Insurance being a conservative profession, mavericks and loose cannons are generally unwelcome guests. The lyric of the theme song for TV’s ‘Maverick’ says it all: “Luck is his companion; gamblin’ is his game.”

Ian Posgate died earlier this year. One of Lloyd’s most controversial (and most successful) underwriters, he was the quintessential maverick. He indeed regarded gambling as his game.


“I was allowed to be a bookmaker on a huge scale,” he once said. “Autocratic. Absolutely outrageous.”

In his obituary, The Times said Posgate “seemed to make the dreary world of insurance sexy.”

No mean trick, that. His career was chequered, but his influence on Lloyd’s was significant. He was known as ‘Goldfinger,’ the man with the Midas touch. He dealt almost exclusively in marine, and at one point controlled a fifth of all marine premiums at Lloyd’s.

Ian Posgate indirectly brought about reform at a global institution that sorely needed it. Not a bad epitaph for a maverick.

Posgate’s most successful line was insuring ships on the Mekong River during the Vietnam War. After losses, incurred primarily in the dry season, He would double the premium (five percent of the monthly cargo value per became 10). Later he found out that the river was just 30 feet wide in the dry season, which made shooting holes in shipping easier than when it rained, and the river widened to three miles.

Goldfinger lived in an age when an underwriter could place policies with more than one syndicate. Talk about your conflicts of interest: the lowest-risk policies were inevitably written for friends, and those less favored often bought the higher-risk policies. This was the Lloyd’s way for a long time.

After Lloyd’s cleaned up its act in the mid ’80s, Posgate joined Alexander Howden, to work alongside Kenneth Grob, known as the Grobfather.

In short: Howden was bought by U.S. insurer Alexander & Alexander; holes were revealed in the Howden financials; Posgate was cleared of misappropriation, but was found to have received “gifts,” including a valuable Pissarro painting. Yes, he took the Pissarro.


Lloyd’s banned Posgate for life, reduced on appeal to six months, but would never again employ him. Nor would anyone else. He was acquitted of all charges, but at that point he retired to the country and farmed cattle, summering on the French Riviera.

They don’t make ‘em like Posgate anymore, because Lloyd’s reformed its tainted self to see him and his ilk off the premises and out of the industry.

Posgate clearly wasn’t John Galt, from Atlas Shrugged. No one is. But Goldfinger was an original at the waning of the age when giants stalked the land of the insured.

Ian Posgate indirectly brought about reform at a global institution that sorely needed it. Not a bad epitaph for a maverick. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Janet Sheiner, VP of risk management and real estate at AMN Healthcare Services Inc., sees innovation as an answer to fast-evolving and emerging risks.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

As a kid, bagging groceries. My first job out of school, part-time temp secretary.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Risk management picks you; you don’t necessarily pick it. I came into it from a regulatory compliance angle. There’s a natural evolution because a lot of your compliance activities also have the effect of managing your risk.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


There’s much benefit to grounding strategic planning in an ERM framework. That’s a great innovation in the industry, to have more emphasis on ERM. I also think that risk management thought leaders are casting themselves more as enablers of business, not deterrents, a move in the right direction.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Justified or not, risk management functions are often viewed as the “Department of No.” We’ve worked hard to cultivate a reputation as the “Department of Maybe,” so partners across the organization see us as business enablers. That reputation has meant entertaining some pretty crazy ideas, but our willingness to try and find a way to “yes” tempered with good risk management has made all the difference.

Janet Sheiner, VP, Risk Management & Real Estate, AMN Healthcare Services Inc.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego, of course!  America’s Finest City has the infrastructure, Convention Center, hotels, airport and public transportation — plus you can’t beat our great weather! The restaurant scene is great, not to mention those beautiful coastal views.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

The emergence of risk management as a distinct profession, with four-year degree programs and specific academic curriculum. Now I have people on my team who say their goal is to be a risk manager. I said before that risk management picks you, but we’re getting to a point where people pick it.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?


The commercial insurance market’s ability to innovate to meet customer demand. Businesses need to innovate to stay relevant, and the commercial market needs to innovate with us.  Carriers have to be willing to take on more risk and potentially take a loss to meet the unique and evolving risks companies are facing.

R&I: Of which insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion?

Beazley. They have been an outstanding partner to AMN. They are responsive, flexible and reasonable.  They have evolved with us. They have an appreciation for risk management practices we’ve organically woven into our business, and by extension, this makes them more comfortable with taking on new risks with us.

R&I: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. health care industry and why?

I am very optimistic about the health care industry. We have an aging population with burgeoning health care needs, coupled with a decreasing supply of health care providers — that means we have to get smarter about how we manage health care. There’s a lot of opportunity for thought leaders to fill that gap.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Professionally, AMN Healthcare General Counsel, Denise Jackson, has enabled me to do the best work I’ve ever done, and better than I thought I could do.  Personally, my husband Andrew, a second-grade teacher, who has a way of putting things into a human perspective.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

In my early 20s, I set a goal for the “corner office.” I achieved that when I became vice president.  I received a ‘Values in Practice’ award for trust at AMN. The nomination came from team members I work with every day, and I was incredibly humbled and honored.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The noir genre, so anything by Raymond Chandler in books. For movies,  “Double Indemnity,” the 1944 Billy Wilder classic, with insurance at the heart of it!

R&I: What is your favorite drink?


Clean water. Check out for how to help people enjoy clean, safe water.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant at which you’ve eaten?

Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

China. See favorite restaurant above. This restaurant had been open for 100 years in that location. It didn’t exactly have an “A” rating, and it was probably not a place most risk managers would go to.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Eating that duck at Liqun!

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Dr. Seuss who, in response to a 1954 report in Life magazine, worked to reduce illiteracy among school children by making children’s books more interesting. His work continues to educate and entertain children worldwide.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

They’re not really sure!

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]