“Caroline, welcome to the team, it’s great to have you here. There are a few things we need to bring you up to speed on, including Monte Carlo.”
When I first joined the (re)insurance world, the news that large numbers of reinsurance people decamped to Monte Carlo every September for a few days brought to mind a number of phrases: ‘it’s nice for some’, ‘how the other half lives’, ‘corporate jolly’….
And when I realised that it wasn’t a ‘proper’ big conference venue with exhibition halls, stands, seminars and speeches on critical topics, but conversely lots of people having rather brief meetings in extremely glamorous hotels and bars; you may imagine how I felt. Highly envious. But also sceptical. How on earth could that be an effective, practical use of time?
It would seem that there is a perennial debate about the conference, the venue, the location, the value, and so on. This year again, one of the main (re)insurance publications’ editor speculated about how it would be if the conference were to move. And yet it is still there, going strong after 63 years.
This year for the first time, I actually attended the Rendez-Vous in Monte Carlo.
What I realised is that it is not just ‘EC3 decamping to Monte’. This is a global business and the world’s reinsurers are there, having meetings that you couldn’t fit into a month of normal business trips. They’re cementing critical relationships, building invaluable contacts and most importantly, doing business. All of that makes the effort worthwhile.
Last year, our Haggie blog was about how to make the most of your Rendez-Vous experience and I drew heavily on that this year. I also ignored it. I walked too far in not quite sensible shoes, ate and drank too much, and burned the candle at both ends. In the process, I got to know my clients and colleagues much better than before, I learnt something new from almost every conversation I had, and I met some fascinating people and made good contacts.
Would it be the same in another location or another format? What struck me was that it was the off-the-cuff conversations and casual meetings that proved as useful as the scheduled ones – if not more so. The unique scale of Monte Carlo does lend itself well to accidental meetings that lead to useful business. I think I’m a convert.