2018 Power Broker

Technology

Next-Level Solutions

Carol Beeley
Vice President
Aon, Denver

Large multinationals with complex risks know Carol Beeley has the experience and savvy to handle their considerable needs, and the ingenuity to craft innovative solutions.

For a top global tech company, Beeley helped craft a solution to address the rapidly shifting exposures related to the company’s cloud-based and mobile offerings.

One key concern was temporary disruption of services — a loss scenario commonly excluded by standard policy language and triggers. Beeley created a first-of-its-kind hybrid coverage trigger that gave the company far better protection.

A company executive credits Beeley’s strong relationship with the lead market as a key factor in her ability to secure buy-in for the unique coverage.

For a global manufacturing client, Beeley put fresh eyes on its existing programs and formulated a plan to help achieve the company’s goal of streamlining its political risk and terrorism programs.

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The streamlined combined policy initially provided practically the same coverage while eliminating excess premium.

Subsequent negotiations allowed the company to re-gain coverage enhancements formerly contained in its standalone terrorism policy, allowing for cancellation of the separate terrorism cover completely.

After achieving similar gains for a multinational agribusiness client, Beeley incorporated currency-related losses into the program for no additional premium.

Beeley is a master at “piecing together the puzzle and making it work,” said the head of the company’s global insurance program.

Providing What Clients Need to Succeed

Megan Bell
Account Executive
Aon, Philadelphia

A multinational software corporation was facing a potentially difficult renewal due to recent losses. To get ahead of it, Megan Bell and her team at Aon helped create a sophisticated forward-looking analysis mapping out dozens of potential scenarios.

“It allowed us to forecast the renewal over time,” explained a company executive. “It was quite creative … it allowed us to play with various scenarios and put us in a position to better negotiate.”

Thanks to this advanced analysis, Bell and her client convinced the lead insurer to maintain the company’s expiring retention as opposed to the 150 percent increase it initially offered.

For global manufacturer Royal Adhesives & Sealants, Bell brought much-needed cohesion to a fragmented global program. Improvements in carrier relationships, terms and protocols have allowed the company to realize a more than 25 percent reduction in global insurance costs.

Recently, the company turned to Bell to help pave the way for a large investor to acquire the company.

“I said, ‘I need you to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer,’ ” explained Wayne Byrne, the company’s EVP and CFO. In a matter of days, Bell and her team collected everything the investor would need to complete the due diligence process and enabled the sale to proceed smoothly.

“Megan and her team did a phenomenal job,” said Byrne.

Bell is a true rising star, added the software executive. “She’s a great sparring partner, and she always comes up with great ideas.”

Clarity and Confidence in Cyber

Jesus Gonzalez
Vice President
Aon, Chicago

Jesus Gonzalez’s long history in the technology space has given him critical insights into the full scope of cyber liability exposures.

For St. Louis-based Charter Communications, Gonzalez undertook an in-depth analysis of Charter’s cyber program and its exposures. From it, he distilled a presentation that would help the board wrap their heads around the company’s risks.

“He really hit the nail on the head in terms of what we need and what we should think about,” said Allison Cosway, the company’s senior director of risk management. “I refer back to it a lot. He was able to take a complex subject and make it easy to understand.”

For a multi-industrial conglomerate undergoing a large-scale merger, Gonzalez was instrumental in helping the company align terms and conditions and optimize the cyber programs of the two organizations.

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“He was able to roll them into our existing program until our natural renewal date,” which bought the company enough time to prepare for its first renewal as a combined entity, said the company’s head of risk management. “The renewal went extremely well.”

The risk executive most values the way Gonzalez lays everything out on the table clearly. “Yes, we had cost savings. But that was secondary to making sure that we fully understood our exposures and our coverage.”

“It’s nice to have conversations with people who really get how this affects me and my business,” added Cosway, a former broker herself.

A Hands-On Innovation Leader

Samantha Levine
Vice President
Aon, Denver

A global technology leader had been involved in legal battles over patent infringement and needed a better way to get ahead of the potentially severe intellectual property exposure. A structured finance solution wasn’t going far enough to mitigate the losses.

Aon’s Samantha Levine helped the company transition to a carefully tailored program that allowed the company to invest annually in a modelled loss captive for its IP risks.

The captive solution put the company in a position to secure reinsurance for the exposure, but the markets were initially hesitant.

Levine and the client built detailed data about both the company’s historic losses and potential future losses, and the company took on risk on both a per claim retention and an aggregate loss basis through the captive.

Ultimately, the captive program gave the markets confidence in their ability to accurately price and model the exposure, and the company was able to secure an appropriate amount of reinsurance.

“Sam was very hands-on,” said a key executive. “It was a very innovative solution. Being able to get that off our balance sheet is huge. Just huge. And Sam was instrumental in making it happen … I can’t say enough good things about her,” he added.

“She works harder than just about anybody I’ve seen in the business,” said another risk executive from the same company, who noted that he makes a point of singing Levine’s praises to the company’s top brass.

Solutions to Meet New Frontiers

Jillian Slyfield
Managing Director
Aon, San Francisco

How do you insure something that’s never even existed before? That’s a challenge that could tax the resources of any broker. Good thing Aon’s Jillian Slyfield isn’t just any broker.

Tech start-up Clutch is a subscription vehicle platform that coordinates on-demand personal vehicles with subscribers who use those vehicles as their primary personal auto.

Their model, which wraps insurance costs into the subscription cost, made them a curious hybrid. They needed a corporate program that would respond as a personal lines program.

“You couldn’t model it,” said John Phelps, Clutch’s VP, strategy & business development.

Clutch was paying far too much for a fleet solution that fit poorly. The carrier “was trying to fit us into their world rather than ask what we need,” Phelps said.

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“We knew we needed to do it differently. We just wanted somebody to sit shoulder to shoulder with us and design [a new program],” he said. “Jillian went above and beyond, [working with] Yrisk to design a program from the ground up.”

Armed with an insurance solution that fits, the company has grown at rate unexpected by investors.

“I really don’ t think there’s anyone better than Jillian,” said Phelps.

“We’ve left other brokers because of their inability to move at our speed,” said another global technology client. “But she’s built this empowered network of people that can move with us. She doesn’t limit herself to being a broker … she jumps in, whatever we need.”

Evolution, Enabled

John Warren
Vice President
Marsh, Washington, D.C.

Marsh’s John Warren faced a unique challenge with technology provider Vistronix Intelligence and Technology Solutions, which was shifting from the government contracting realm into the commercial realm, dramatically increasing the company’s risks.

Its existing program couldn’t respond to the company’s new D&O, E&O, cyber and general liability exposures.

“As a government contractor, your client doesn’t usually sue you, they just terminate your contract,” explained Ted Timberlake, formerly SVP and general counsel for Vistronix.

Vistronix explored various applications for its analytical intelligence platform and began to get traction from hospitals. The tool could help vet and further the accreditation of doctors — typically a costly process for hospitals. But the company needed to overhaul its program in order to proceed.

“We had a new business area, no experience [in the health care field], the technology was untested … I was afraid that no one was going to touch us,” he said.

Warren arranged conference calls with a plethora of carriers, said Timberlake. He made sure that the technology leads had direct access to the carriers. Because of the structured and interactive way that Warren approached it, “every carrier but one quoted.”

The company was sold not long after, said Timberlake.

“I had to go back to John and say we’re getting sold,” he said. “But rather than drop me like a hot potato, he stayed with us and got us through the process.”

Finalists:

Tyler Muldoon
Account Executive
Aon, Philadelphia

Lisa Rose
Senior Vice President
Marsh, Washington, D.C.

Doug Jones
Senior Vice President
RHSB, Dallas

Brian Gillin
Vice President
Aon, New York

Karen Cangemi
Senior Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

 

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]