7 People on the Move

Jonny Allen and Charlie Richardson appointed new roles at Travelers; Tandis Nili joins Frenkel & Company; Iain Whittingham is recruited by Willis Towers Watson; Bonita Rogers heads to All Risks Ltd.; Jeff Langley moves to Alliant's Houston Office; and Christopher Lowell steps into a leadership role at The Hartford.
By: | November 30, 2018 • 5 min read

Travelers Appoints Two to Its Renewable Energy Team

The Travelers Companies, Inc. announced it has made two key appointments to its Lloyd’s Syndicate 5000 Renewable Energy team: Jonny Allen has joined as senior underwriter and head of offshore renewables, and Charlie Richardson has been appointed senior underwriter and head of onshore renewables.

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Allen began his underwriting career as an onshore renewables specialist in the London insurance market following a short engineering career in upstream energy. In 2013, he moved to GCube Underwriting to support the offshore renewables portfolio, becoming head of offshore wind in 2015. Allen will be responsible for the Travelers offshore wind book of business in the company’s syndicate at Lloyd’s. He also chairs the European Wind Turbine Committee and represents the syndicate at a number of renewable market groups.

Richardson has more than 18 years of experience in the insurance industry. Most recently, he led the wind and solar underwriting book at GCube Underwriting. There, he also helped develop the firm’s emerging market operations. In his role with the Travelers syndicate at Lloyd’s, Richardson will focus on the onshore renewable energy segment, including the onshore wind and solar power industries.

Tandis Nili Joins Frenkel & Company in Its New York Office

EPIC Company announced that risk management and insurance professional Tandis Nili joined the firm’s operations in New York as senior vice president and leader of the Global Services Division. Nili is based in Frenkel’s New York, NY office at 350 Hudson Street and reports to John F. Kelly, president and CEO of Frenkel & Company.

Tandis Nili, SVP, global services division leader, Frenkel & Co.

In her new role, Nili is responsible for leading the integration of EPIC and Frenkel capabilities and resources related to designing, implementing and managing global risk management strategies and solutions for large clients with international footprints.

Prior to joining Frenkel, Nili served as a director of the small & medium enterprises (SME) division at Aon, and earlier as vice president in the National Casualty Brokerage Group, working on complex liability programs for various high profile clients worldwide. Nili also served as a member of Aon’s Casualty Coverage Consultation, Advocacy and Claims Resolution Practice, advocating for clients in general and products liability as well as umbrella and excess liability program and coverage disputes.

Recognized twice as a Risk & Insurance® Power Broker, Nili has counseled numerous clients on liability coverage and business and regulatory issues, as well as assisting them in choosing and implementing appropriate risk management strategies.

Iain Whittingham to Work with Willis Towers Watson in London

Willis Towers Watson has expanded its analytics and digital transformation team with the appointment of Iain Whittingham as a senior director in the company’s Insurance Consulting and Technology business. Based on Lime Street, London, Iain will support the continued growth of Willis Towers Watson’s Insurance Consulting and Technology business.

Iain has 25 years of senior consulting, insurance and industry line management experience, specializing in advanced analytics, digital transformation, business information, operating model design and cost optimization programs. He joins Willis Towers Watson having held senior roles within the insurance and consulting sectors.

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“The accelerating pace of technological change in the insurance sector presents a significant opportunity to improve risk selection, optimize distribution, automate non-value adding processes and reduce operational costs,” said Stephen Jones, lead for UK P&C pricing, claims, product and underwriting at Willis Towers Watson. “Iain’s experience will add to our bench strength and commitment to unlocking value for our clients through continued investment in our technology platforms and the consulting support required to optimize return on investment.”

Bonita Rogers Heading to All Risks Ltd. and Will Work in Its Houston Office

All Risks, Ltd., is adding Bonita Rogers to the Houston, TX office. Bonita specializes in upstream, midstream and downstream energy risks – both onshore and offshore for contractors, operators/non-operators, consultants, manufacturers, distributors and oilfield trucking businesses. Lines of coverage include general liability, commercial auto, workers’ compensation, pollution, umbrella, professional, marine liability and control of well.

Bonita has 28 years of experience in the insurance industry, in both the retail and wholesale sectors.

Her previous brokerage production experience includes employment at Southwest Risk, LP and CRC Insurance Services, Inc. She also holds the following industry designations, CIC and CRM and is a member of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.

“We are thrilled to welcome Bonita to All Risks. Her extensive background in excess and surplus lines coverage for the construction, energy, environmental and manufacturing industries is a great addition to our Houston team,” stated Glenn Hargrove, managing director.

Texas Broker Jeff Langley Moving to Alliant’s Houston Office

Houston-based Jeff Langley is being tapped to further expand Alliant’s reach and capabilities both in the Lone Star State and the greater Southwest region.

“Texas continues to be a center of growth for Alliant, and Jeff’s arrival will add additional breadth and strength to our growing team,” said Bob Bennetsen, executive vice president and senior managing director with Alliant.

“His strong client relationships, strong technical ability and deep understanding of the economic variables driving the region will play an essential role in our continued expansion.”

Langley joins Alliant with a background advising large-to-midsized property and casualty clients across a broad array of industries.

Prior to joining Alliant, Langley was a senior adviser at a large, Texas-based insurance brokerage firm, where he engaged in risk management and insurance placements for clients with regional, national and international operations. Langley attended the University of Oklahoma and spent a significant portion of his insurance career in the state.

Christopher Lowell Will Lead The Hartford’s Small Business Innovation Lab

The Hartford announced it has appointed Christopher Lowell to lead its Small Business Innovation Lab, reporting to Stephanie Bush, head of small commercial and personal lines.

“The lab is part of the company’s ongoing focus on driving innovation and growth across the company through the use of data, digital technology and Insurtech partnerships to ensure we remain relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace,” said John Wilcox, head of strategy and ventures at The Hartford.

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Bush added, “Focusing on the customer is more important than ever as technology continues to evolve, new digital capabilities are introduced and customer expectations grow. I am pleased to welcome Christopher to The Hartford. His broad experience and knowledge about emerging trends in the insurance industry will be instrumental as we look for new ways to support small business owners.”

Lowell will oversee the innovation lab, which is located in the financial district in New York City, and will be focused on designing and testing new products and business models to meet the changing needs of The Hartford’s small business customers.

“With a relentless focus on customers, we will continue to bring personalization, advanced technology and new business models to the risk management world – allowing small business owners to focus on what they do best, delivering value for their clients and customers,” Lowell said. &

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

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]