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Jan 2023

Reinsurers reconnected

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Dec 2022

There can be little doubt that the Singapore International Reinsurance Conference has become one of the most essential events in the calendar of many global industry professionals. We offer an overview of the 2022 conference.
By Paul McNamara
 
 
The Sands Expo and Convention Centre saw an influx of over 2,200 reinsurance professionals at the end of October and start of November for the Singapore International Reinsurance Conference (SIRC).
 
Despite the brief period when the conference was moved online because of the pandemic, the 2022 event was warmly embraced by a truly international crowd with a focus on learning, networking and doing business.
 
A large part of the success of the event rests on the shoulders of the organisers of the event, the Singapore Reinsurers’ Association (SRA) – and in particular it chair Marc Haushofer and executive director Jeffrey Yeo, ably supported by the executive committee.
 
Top marks
We caught up with Messrs Haushofer and Yeo to find out how the event compared to their expectations.
 
“On a scale of one to 10, we are close to nine,” said Mr Haushofer. “Why not 10? First, because I believe you can’t organise the perfect event, so you can only get to try to get closer and closer to a really first-class experience.”
 
During the pandemic, the event was moved online – an important development in keeping both the brand and the momentum of SIRC alive. Sponsor support proved invaluable during this difficult time.
 
“It was great that we kept the brand alive during COVID but that can only be a substitute for the real thing,” said Mr Haushofer. “Virtual events are never really as good as meeting people in person. Without the help of our partners and sponsors, it would have been much more difficult and challenging.”
 
The return to the physical world for SIRC was made much easier by the quality of the venue at Marina Bay Sands and its ancillary staff.
 
“In terms of logistics, and in terms of the entire conference venue, I would definitely rate it as 10,” said Mr Haushofer. “It’s a fantastic venue. It’s so compact. Also, the people we were working with were very good and it’s a very experienced team.”
 
The intellectual content of the conference sessions also continued to reach new highs.
 
“I think we managed a very interesting and well-diversified panel of speakers,” said Mr Haushofer. “Also, the inclusion of softer topics, I found, was the right thing to do. For some sessions we used a smaller room and I think that was a good decision because it made those sessions a little more intimate.”
 
Teething problems
There were also valuable lessons picked up in 2022 that will help in future.
 
“We experienced a bit of resistance because this time we charged everyone coming in,” said Mr Haushofer. “Will we continue with that approach? Clearly, yes. We have been able to explain ourselves quite simply: It’s a good thing that everyone who is using the events should also recognise that with a certain financial reward. The speakers and the panels were at a very high level - and of course the venue, logistics and security were also a significant cost in producing such an event.”
 
Planning the SIRC during the tail-end of the worst of the pandemic also posed problems of its own – since the organisers also had to plan for the contingency that the event may have to have been moved online at the last minute. This meant that it was challenging to secure as many top-flight speakers as the organisers may have originally wished.
 
“For next year, I would like to start getting top-quality speakers earlier,” said Mr Haushofer. “I’m also interested in continuing with our fireside chat concept, which we had on the opening day, with the guest of honour and some very high-class individuals.”
 
Mr Yeo offers insights into the practicalities of organising so many very senior industry speakers in such a short space of time.
 
“On the speakers, I think we left it a bit late,” said Mr Yeo. “It was a bit taxing because we had to organise each panel. We had to organise calls with all of them to coordinate the sessions and so on, especially the one for the ‘reshaping the future’. It involved very senior people and it was very tough. So, for next year, starting early is important.”
 
And he is candid about the approach to the pricing for attending.
 
“With the new things we tried, some worked, some didn’t,” said Mr Yeo. “On the attendance fee, we tried a two-tier scale with a discount to try to make it affordable, especially for those people that used to come for free. In general, the feedback we got from people on the ground was very good.”
 
Mr Haushofer concurred. “We are we are very happy with the outcome of the event,” he said.
 
Looking ahead
“For 2023, Jeffrey, Kenrick Law [SRA deputy chair] and I will look into how we can make sure that we have a powerful team in place in order to look after the next SIRC,” said Mr Haushofer. “It will be a very big focus for the executive director and the exco to make sure that the SIRC is a sustainable conference. That is very high on our agenda for 2023 - to make sure that this conference can grow and strengthen with the years.”
 
Mr Yeo summed up. “We are building sustainability and resilience in SIRC,” he said. “We’ve raised the bar this year, so it will be a bigger challenge for us to do even better next year.”
 
The dates for 2023 iteration of SIRC have been set for 30 October to 2 November. A 
 
What industry leaders thought
 
Richard Jones“It was great to reconnect with so many people after all this time, credit to the organising committee who did an excellent job. There was a greater intensity to discussions with clients and carriers covering a broader than usual range of concerns/topics including the inflationary environment and geopolitical issues. Whilst reinsurers messaging all followed a similar theme, there was perhaps less specific discussion, which was understandable given the current market dynamics.”
AON CEO reinsurance, Asia Richard Jones
 
Andrew Eliot“I would say overall that I was so thoroughly grateful to have reconnected with my Asia-Pacific leaders and teams on the ground, and to be back in this vibrant market. The SIRC is a wonderful enabler in this way – the opportunity to network and to test the temperature of the market.”
Eliot Partnership managing director Andrew Eliot
 
Kai-Uwe Schanz“I was overwhelmed by the SIRC’s most impressive rebound from the pandemic. More than ever before, SIRC has proven its value as an unparalleled platform for dialogue in Asia and far beyond. The delivery of the event was outstanding, from designing highly relevant panel sessions to impeccable logistics on the spot. Congratulations to the Singapore Reinsurers’ Association and all those who contributed to this major success.”
The Geneva Association deputy managing director, head of research and foresight Kai-Uwe Schanz
 
Roland Eckl“It was good to have had SIRC back as an on-site event. People were longing to renew personal relationships – so was I. Given the hard market we have been entering, discussions circled clearly around capacity and prices. Mutual trust and understanding between client and reinsurer is key and SIRC was a perfect platform to deepen our partnerships.”
Munich Re chief executive Asia Pacific, Japan, Korea, India, Southeast Asia Roland Eckl
 
Emiko Maki“I was pleased to be back to SIRC in person after a two-year absence. The more people around the world get together at SIRC, the more worth attending for a Japanese insurer to have a good sense in advance to our big date of 1.4. SIRC 2022 went very well providing us various updates through the lively conversations. Furthermore, I was honoured to be one of the speakers for the roundtable #1 “Who’s on board? Bridging the gender equity gap in (re)insurance”. Thank you to the organisers, WiRE, fellow panellists and all participants in the event.”
Sompo Japan Insurance director, executive officer, chief risk officer Emiko Maki
 
Paul Murray“This was the first SIRC I attended. Having attended many industry-wide events over the years, I must say this one surpassed my expectations. This is an event that means business – meaningful business conversations were had continuously, getting messages across, progressing issues, challenging each other. I would say this is the most productive conference I have attended.”
Swiss Re chief executive officer reinsurance Asia, member of group EC, Asia Paul Murray
 
 

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