CII Says AXA’s De Castries Believes Rough Times Have Strengthened the Industry

The U.K.’s Chartered Insurance Institute is gearing up for this year’s Insurance & Financial Services Conference, which will take place in Birmingham, Sept. 29-Oct.1.

In advance of the conference the CII has released a summary of remarks from the keynote speaker, AXA’s chief executive Henri de Castries. He believes that consumers are more open to risk management and paying realistic premiums than ever before thanks to the difficult last three years.

Speaking about the major challenges facing the industry in the current issue of the CII magazine The Journal, de Castries is optimistic about the future in the aftermath of an abnormally harsh environment.

“The reality is that the fundamentals of the industry are reinforced,” he stated. “Consumers are much more aware of the risks than before. They are more ready than before to pay a decent price, and more ready than before to take the right prevention measures.

“Because the industry has suffered and lost capital, it’s no longer the victim of its own excess capital. When there was too much capital, a lot of players were ready to underwrite anything at any return because they felt safe whatever happened. The fact that now capital is scarce and therefore more expensive makes the players much more rational. It’s back to basics.”

The CII also indicated that de Castries is confident that regulation will prove to be beneficial to the industry. Likening the insurance industry to the banking sector, he commented: “Regulation, when it’s well done, is a barrier to entry for the inefficient players or the players who don’t have the standards and ethics you would like. Regulation is a necessity. When you are well managed it shouldn’t be an obstacle.”

At the conference, de Castries will be expanding on these thoughts in his keynote speech. He will be looking at capital, regulation, brand, people and risk, and the global challenges facing the industry in the light of the increasing complexity of insurance and the science of risk and capital management.

Commenting on de Castries’ contribution to the conference, Steve Wellard, CII marketing director, stated: “Mr. de Castries has piloted one of the world’s largest insurers through some of the roughest times in living history, and so his experience and expertise is second to none. We are therefore delighted that he will be sharing his insight with us at the conference. Delegates will benefit immensely from hearing his perspective on such important issues.”

The conference will take place at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham from 29 September to 1 October 2004. Delegate bookings can be made online at www.conference.cii.co.uk or by calling the conference office on(44) 020 8332 7696.