Willis CEO Plumeri Calls Response to Katrina ‘Our Defining Moment’

September 13, 2005

Joe Plumeri, Willis Group chairman and CEO, as the guest speaker at this year’s PricewaterhouseCoopers Breakfast Briefing at the Reinsurance Rendezvous in Monte Carlo, called on the industry to recognize the confluence of events impacting our industry as “our defining moment.”

Willis bulletin noted that the advance title of the speech was “The Future of the International Broking Industry Post-Spitzer.” While Plumeri gave credit to New York’s Attorney General for raising some serious issues, he stressed that “moving the industry forward is more about our taking collective responsibility for reforming and even revolutionizing the industry rather than satisfying the demands of regulators.”

Plumeri told the breakfast gathering: “The greatness of people and industries is measured by how they react to the circumstances put before them. How we react – collectively – whether we revolutionize our practices or support the status quo – will foretell our future. If we build on our rich traditions, history will be our springboard; if we rest on our traditions, history will be our jailor.”

He described four “defining moments: “How the industry responds to Hurricane Katrina; approaches Contract Certainty; achieves Transparency; and addresses Contingent Commissions,” as being the key issues confronting the industry. Plumeri also noted that the industry needs to find a permanent solution to terrorism risk, as well as how to employ enhanced technology and how to insure strict compliance in the placement process – “including solid, impenetrable Chinese walls between primary and reinsurance brokers.”

“We have a choice,” Plumeri continued, “We can “meet the minimum requirements…or we can be heroic.” Referring to insurance as the DNA of capitalism, Plumeri said, “We have a responsibility as the grease of the economic engine to accept the accountability that goes along with our role. That means being progressive and making this our finest hour.”

In a closing reference to the devastation in New Orleans, Plumeri said that for the industry, acting heroically “…will mean that we are not about disputing claims but are about rebuilding lives.”

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