After graduating from Oxford, Brindle began his underwriting career at Posgate & Denby Managing Agency in 1984 underwriting on Syndicate 488. It was his partnership with John Charman where the duo first came to prominence, running a 24-hour quick response quoting service on the box during the First Gulf War at a time when capacity was scarce and premiums were rocketing.
Thirty years on, it remains a talked about chapter in Lime Street history, an example of the market’s reputation for providing entrepreneurial, last-resort capital when others run scared.
Brindle remained with Tarquin Underwriting, the parent of Charman Underwriting Agencies, which managed Syndicate 488, until 1998 when it was sold to Ace and he effectively took a seven-year sabbatical from the industry.
He returned by launching Lancashire in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, listing on the London Stock Exchange. During those seven years, Lloyd’s had transformed into a corporate capital dominated market with central underwriting oversight by the newly created Franchise Board.
“I’ve been critical of Lloyd’s very often in my career”
Lancashire remained a resolutely London-Bermuda business without a Lloyd’s platform, although this changed in 2013 when it acquired Cathedral for £266mn. It was a move calculated on achieving greater distribution, underwriting talent and access to quality business as market rates were weakening. But it also completed just months before Brindle himself bowed out – a decision he would have made a long time earlier.
Although underwriting purists like Brindle and Charman are often uneasy about surrendering a degree of independence to Lloyd’s business planning oversight, Brindle applauds Patrick Tiernan’s predecessor Jon Hancock for overhauling market standards in 2018-20.
“I’ve been critical of Lloyd’s very often in my career but with the Decile 10 process that was started by Jon Hancock a few years ago, I think they deserve a lot of credit,” he tells The Insurer TV.
“There are signs that they are a lot more engaged now”
“They’ve really got to grips with some of these perennially underachieving lines of business and actually started to load capital and do something about it.”
But he cautions that progress is not a “done deal” – referencing classes such as downstream energy, where rates are still coming down despite sizeable losses this year including the Texan Freeport LNG refinery and the Oneok Oklahoma gas plant.
“There is still a disconnect there and I remain to be entirely convinced that Lloyd’s have learnt their lessons and won’t just allow classes of business to languish with combined ratios over 100 percent year after year, which is what they’ve allowed to happen in the past.
“However, there are signs that they are a lot more engaged now and they won’t allow that to happen. I hope they don’t.”
Watch the full thirteen-minute interview which includes Richard Brindle’s observations on the marketplace, entrepreneurship and Lloyd’s…