This week should have seen the world’s reinsurance sector decamp to the delights of Monaco for the annual Reinsurance Rendezvous.
However underwriters and brokers have been carrying out virtual events in an effort to replicate what should have been undertaken in Monte Carlo.
While the events have come thick and fast, questions over whether the Rendezvous has been missed have been met with some troubling responses.
Swiss Re’s CEO Reinsurance, Moses Ojeisekhoba, was asked about the future of the event and he was less than enthusiastic.
His view was that the cost of attending and the ancillary spend on meeting rooms and specially designed bases may well be seen as too much in the years to come. His view was that the event may well continue but its scale would be very different from the size and spend we have seen in recent years.
It is likely that if the pandemic has abated in 12 months’ time we may well still be struggling with the impact of the global economic downturn. In the past recessions the national media has questioned the sight of underwriters and brokers holding cocktail receptions at a time when many businesses were struggling.
The old joke has always been how many reinsurers would turn up if the rendezvous were held in Frankfurt or Sheffield but what is clear that the need for face to face discussions remains critical to the industry.
Indeed, the City of London has slowly returned to work and while many firms have told their staff that attendance is not compulsory there are rumours that if the second wave is not as intense as the earlier part of the year the option will become a compulsion.
The reasons behind the move is the realisation that the complexity of the market requires a degree of face to face discussion which goes over and above a video call. Brokers and underwriters have also bemoaned the impact remote working has had on the ability to win new business. Firms have also expressed concern over the ability to monitor staff for signs of burn out and mental health issues should they remain working at home.
Whether staff will be in the office five days a week is unsure but already the streets around EC3 are starting to resemble the financial services centre is has been for three centuries.
If the staff numbers reduce it is likely that office sizes will shrink in tandem. It comes back to the question for the world’s insurance and reinsurance conference organisers.
If large numbers of staff are not being asked to travel to the office what is the likelihood they will travel to the likes, of Singapore, Monaco, or Dubai?