It is one of the great truths in this great global P&C market that once a participant exceeds the age of 50, they will invariably start to lament the lack of 'characters' and strong leaders.
Of course this is countered by the other great market truth that if you are old enough to think there are no characters left, then you are probably one yourself.
But even a superficial examination of our industry shows that rumours of the death of the (re)insurance character have been greatly exaggerated. Any fear that the brave new corporate world would prove somehow antiseptic and entirely cleansed of its big personalities has not come to pass.
(Re)insurance has always been and always will be a people-centric business and no amount of regulation or technological innovation will change this fact.
Yes, today's (re)insurance sector cannot exist in isolation. It is as influenced by the latest scientific thinking as it always has been, and rightly so.
But unless a company has a strong leader who is able to communicate a clear and concise vision of what the firm stands for and is setting out to achieve, it is likely to struggle. If the leader has already achieved notable successes in his career, he can also lead the troops by example and act as a beacon to potential new recruits.
A quick scan of the firmament sees as many strong personalities
shining high as there have ever been.
Pat Ryan is out on the stump building a major new business and Ajit Jain is doing mega-deals with as much panache and élan as ever.
A certain Mr Noonan is pulling off aggressive M&A and building a formidable reputation for himself in Bermuda as is Michael Watson in Lime Street. And no-one would ever accuse Hank Greenberg or Don Kramer of a lack of ambition, nor would they complain that either Joe Plumeri or Denis Kessler is a bore.
The new chairman of Lloyd's is also a strong character and has already imparted a vision of how he wants the venerable old market to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Clearly on any measure, and contrary to popular wisdom, it is companies that lack strong charismatic leaders that remain firmly in the minority.
From a list of strong characters we move to one of the strongest of them all - John Charman.
Over the past 25 years Mr Charman has achieved the most notable success of any player in our sector, first for his Names and corporate backers and then during a phenomenal decade with Axis.
And now he is embarking on a new chapter in his career.
Today's late soft market is confused and still unsure of its ultimate direction.
This means that many camp followers are simply digging in and waiting for a clear signal of which way to head.
The lack of an obvious direction provides strong leaders with a clear opportunity to spot or create trends and steal a few days' march on the pack.
Recognise and follow one of these leaders and you should also benefit from first mover advantage, (provided you have first correctly understood what they are doing).
Charman is the most notable industry general to have recently dived into a foxhole. But now he has begun the slow process of sticking his head back out into the battlefield.
Our best advice would be to watch him extremely carefully, for where he reappears, and in which direction he is heading when he does, will be of great significance.
But don't think you can follow his path exactly - merely use it as a guide.
Remember the loftiest peaks can still only be scaled by the trailblazers and shouldn't be attempted by novices...