Monte Carlo Roundtable 2019

After several years of disruption from construction work, which cut off certain well-trodden routes from one hotel to another, 2019 marked the year that Monte Carlo unveiled a refreshed landscape to Rendez-Vous delegates.

The Hotel de Paris was revamped, the route to the Hermitage was unblocked and a brand new modern venue opened up.

The ILS market has also been in a phase of reconstruction and rebuilding within this timeframe – one that has meant that, for the third year running, the industry was one of the central talking points during the conference.  

The trajectory, however, has been a little different. During Monaco's construction phase, the loss-struck ILS industry of 2017 and 2018 was still bullishly buoyant.

This year, however, the tone was much more muted as some capacity roadblocks have had their impact.

Cedants, brokers and reinsurers will all be grappling with some big questions in the coming months, over how investor sentiment towards the asset class will affect the upcoming January renewal season, how soon ILS capacity might return to growth and how retro rates may impact their underlying business.

And this year's pause and retraction of capacity – even at a muted or localised level – is unfamiliar turf for the reinsurance industry, more than 10 years after its last big shock.

Amid this pause, the industry is revising and softening previous received wisdom that promulgated the idea that the market would “always be soft” now that ILS capital had arrived.

As cedants and brokers recognise that investors will be looking for long-term healthy yields and adjusting their positions after losses, the market is swinging back to discussions around appropriate payback.  

Some of these tensions were evident during our roundtable discussion, such as the recurring theme of transparency and looking for new ways of doing business.

But it also struck me that as well as the big-picture ideas, the market still loves to dig into a deep conversation about risk modelling metrics.

The thorny issue of confidence in higher attaching versus peak tail event risk modelling was one of the more heated points of debate during our roundtable discussion.

On the face of it, this kind of discussion might seem a little arcane – but perhaps we can see it as a positive selling point of the industry, that even very senior people really engage in the fundamental basics.

Ultimately, more engagement in these kinds of debates might have helped to prevent the Markel Catco saga of extreme loss creep post-2017, with all the resulting disappointment that followed.

And perhaps with more of this architectural focus in its rebuilding phase, we can expect that next year’s Monte Carlo will welcome a newly resplendent ILS market back in growth mode.

To view the Monte Carlo Roundtable supplement, please click here.

Related articles