Reinsurance: The Nuts and Bolts, the book I originally wrote 16 years ago, was published this year in its third edition. Many of the updates since the first edition have been in response to changing market conditions and working practices, driven by the increasingly sophisticated use of technology.
The fact that so many readers are interested in this industry isn’t a surprise to me. But it occurred to me that whilst the basics—the nuts and bolts if you will—of reinsurance haven’t changed over the years, the environment in which we practice reinsurance has changed enormously—and THAT is a constant surprise.
As I approach my 40th anniversary of starting work in the city, it seems to me that the world I knew then seems a million years away from office life today.
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you could be eligible to join the “Old Fogeys in Reinsurance” group:
- Do you remember having to use a “Facit” machine instead of an electronic calculator?
- Do you remember having to ask an old gentleman in a lab coat to “Photostat” some papers for you?
- Did the company ask you to work by candle light during the winter of discontent?
- Did you wait about 10 years before you were allowed to sign your own letters?
- Did you ever proudly announce that you were going to make an overseas telephone call and did the whole office sit up and pay attention?
- Did you spend the first few years of your working life communicating by telex?
- Were you amazed when you first saw a fax machine?
- Did your first experience of using a PC involve a machine with 1Mb of memory or less?
- Do you remember the smell of the Kardomah coffee houses all around the city?
- Were slips typed onto parchment, in typewriters with a special-purpose extra-wide carriage?
- Do you still think of a “sidecar” as something that belongs on a motorbike?
- Did you ever think that a renewal information pack with a single sheet of CRESTA zone aggregates was sophisticated?
So if, like me, you occasionally click the “Start” button and momentarily forget what programme you were going to open (and why), you might be able to remember a few more of these quaint old customs of yester-year. I’d love to hear from you.