Sompo Intl’s James: 1.1 renewal discussions shaping up to be “rational” and “sensible”

Following a year of “massive” change for the industry, including big shifts in terms and conditions, pricing and risk volatility, both cedants and end clients are seeking stability, according to Julian James, CEO of global markets at Sompo International Commercial P&C Insurance.

As The Insurer TV winds down its coverage from Monte Carlo and #ReinsuranceMonth draws to a close, James reflects on the relative tranquility of this year’s Rendez-Vous compared with recent years.

“If I think about this conference, and I've been coming here for over 25 years, there's a whole degree of stability and calm around the place, at a level that I've never really witnessed before,” he said.

“There have been some very rational conversations between insurers and reinsurers. There's a degree of expectation that no one's going to do anything stupid. And we're all kind of looking at having sensible conversations at this time of the year. So that's very, very healthy, I think,” he added.

That atmosphere may derive, in part, from the collective recognition that industry needs to rise to the challenge of addressing ever evolving risks while getting paid properly for it. This was certainly a strong theme at Monte Carlo this year.

“I think there's an acceptance that the world of risk is still an ever growing one,” said James.

“There is always going to be a degree of risk for catastrophic events globally, and whether the right figure is $100bn or whether it's $95bn or whatever, there is an acceptance that there is a level of expectation every year about tragic events that happen around the world.

“And that's where the reinsurance market comes in, because it allows people to remove volatility from their balance sheets, and it shares the risk around the world and actually is a really efficient capital mechanism for everybody,” he added.

Focused on growth

Turning to how Sompo International is leaning into some of the opportunities in the market, James was optimistic about what the rest of the year and, indeed, 2024 will bring.

According to James, the company remains focused on growth, but also on cohesiveness.

“For us, it's about pulling parts of the company together to be one coherent force,” he explained. “We're very much a growth company. We've grown tremendously over the last four to five years. And what we believe in, right from the front, is to be able to deliver a consistent global offering to our clients.”

He added: “We're trying to pull together our operations in Brazil with our operations in Asia, our operations in North America. So, when a customer touches us, they get a consistent response.”

That assuredness around the company’s growth strategy, James added, has led to solid reinsurance planning and coordinating with key reinsurers so they understand Sompo International’s strategy and investment level.

Underlying all these decisions, said James, is stellar talent acquisition.

“Underneath at all, we are a people business, and therefore, you've got to get your talent programme right,” said James.

“If I walk around the London market, or I walk around Bermuda, and I look at some of the really smart people that have been attracted into the insurance world, it's huge optimism … I'm very optimistic about the fact that we can continue to attract talent, and that talent is going to put us in great stead for the future,” he concluded.

Watch the 10-minute video with Sompo International’s Julian James to hear more on:

  • His final thoughts on the Rendez-Vous in Monte Carlo
  • Where Sompo International is focusing its resources
  • Sompo’s strategy for delivering shareholder returns and positive experiences for customers
  • Why the firm is bullish on the London market and its talent pool