We all have different faces we present to the world.
Faces for home, faces for family, faces for work, faces for friends, faces for acquaintances and faces for rivals.
Then there is the huge palette of shaded masks we choose from when we are in various public spaces and situations.
Finally, there is the face we wear when we don’t realise anyone is looking.
My colleagues tell me I pull vexed and angry faces when I am concentrating at work, particularly when I am reading something on a computer screen.
They ask me concernedly if I am okay, half fearing an explosive tirade. They are always surprised when I retort with a smile that I am fine and explain that I am in fact really happy because I have just found a particularly interesting nugget buried in a report!
Screen-squinting aside, we all put the right face on at the right time without being conscious of it.
It is part of our make-up as collaborative social animals. We just do it automatically.
And so it is with senior executives. Each stakeholder is treated to its own nuanced display.
The face presented to clients is not quite the same as the one shown to brokers. Neither is the visage for regulators the one revealed to investors. Suppliers and service providers are also presented with different looks.
Staff and senior managers receive another facial performance entirely. And finally, the regulators and rating agencies each get something virtuoso in turn.
A little of this social art is on display in Adam’s excellent analysis of how the Convex growth plan might affect the market and its slow but steady march back towards rating adequacy.
Stephen Catlin is a natural leader and has been running insurance businesses long enough to do these things instinctively.
Take a business plan that presents investors a base case for gross written premium of $1.7bn in its first full calendar year of operation and $3.1bn in 2021. Within three years of start up the firm is planning to be just over two-thirds the way towards its final mature income target of $4.5bn. There is a lot of leeway around the different scenarios, but that base case must look pleasingly ambitious to investors and prospective underwriting staff.
But it makes no sense whatsoever for Convex to project any sense of hurry towards brokers and clients. This is why they are met with the “patient 10-year money” face that is under absolutely no pressure to grow or indeed underwrite anything at all unless it meets strict return hurdles.
Similarly, Convex’s showpiece across-the-board outsourcing deal is a great look for investors hoping for a permanent expense advantage from a non-legacy carrier with clean state-of-the-art processes.
But such an adornment must be shown in a different light to a regulator, which will want to see comprehensive assurances that the new carrier is not cutting corners or putting too many important company eggs in one big outsourced basket.
None of this is in any way duplicitous and neither is it about trying to be all things to all men. It is always the same face underneath, but that shouldn’t stop us adopting the appropriate attitude depending on the audience. The contrasting facial images co-exist in the same body.
The face is capable of adopting many different expressions and can convey multiple messages and subtle emotions by varying the array of its features. The permutations and combinations are vast.
Yes, we all have different faces we present to the world and (re)insurers are no different.
It is exactly what operating in a multi-faceted global market is all about.