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So nice that you have to name it twice

Mairi MacDonald, Reporter writes:

Dear friend,

As Bill Clinton apparently once said, “Baden-Baden is so nice that you have to name it twice."

But as a newcomer to the industry it was with some trepidation I packed my bag on Saturday night ready for the reinsurance industry gathering at Baden-Baden.

The pre-warnings had been no – it’s much more formal (no chinos) yet much more relaxed (less elbowing through packed out cafes); much more serious (renewals on the way) yet less stuffy (fewer CEOs, more hands-on underwriters and brokers).

Due to arriving at Heathrow Airport ridiculously early thanks to an over-cautious cab company; the inevitably delayed flight (the curtain separating business class from the cattle truck was ‘damaged’ apparently and the plane simply couldn’t leave without an engineer’s visit); and despite a breakneck journey down the autobahn from Stuttgart airport, it was nine hours later before my colleagues and I hauled up in Baden-Baden for XL’s symposium.

Congresshaus delegates heard Swiss Re’s European capital markets guru Luca Albertini discuss convergence in reinsurance and capital markets; Don Mango of Guy Carpenter deliver a complex presentation on the impact to this industry of ERM (not an onomatopoeic response to the detailed PowerPoint slides, but the industry’s current buzz-acronym) and a thought-provoking talk by lawyer Jean Alisse of Dewey and LeBoeuf on the importance of the European Union’s business insurance sector inquiry.

The next couple of days were certainly less hectic than experienced on the Cote D’Azur but proved a valuable opportunity to meet some great characters, pick up news tit bits and decide once and for all that wiener schnitzel might sound exciting, but is essentially best left alone.

I wouldn’t say the German spa town exactly re-charged the batteries but with the beauty and charm of the surroundings, the town’s functionality and enough luxury to satisfy a reinsurer’s every whim, it’s clear the town will remain at the heart of the industry thoughout its rapid changes, as history has proven.

Our editor Mark Geoghegan’s back next week so no more waffle from me, you’ll be relieved to hear.

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