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April 12, 2005
"A Vast Wasteland"

9:00 a.m.
David Schiff, editor of Schiff's Insurance Observer, will tell you what he's riled up about these days. Throughout the conference he will, as always, interrogate the speakers and force them to answer brazen questions.

9:30 a.m.
In June 1994, Schiff's wrote an admiring profile of Christopher Davis, portfolio manager of the Davis Funds, which had $300 million under management. (Chris is the only money manager we've ever profiled.) We picked a winner. The Davis Funds now manage $40 billion, and the firm's primary fund has outperformed the S&P 500 during every meaningful period since its inception in 1969. Chris will tell us about the Davis's sixty-year history of investing in the insurance business, and share his thoughts on the mutual-fund industry, shareholder activism, and more.

10:30 a.m.
Two years after receiving his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, 27-year-old James Stone became the youngest insurance commissioner (Massachusetts) in history. Four years later, in 1979, Jimmy Carter appointed him as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. When his term ended in 1983, he moved back to Boston and founded The Plymouth Rock Company, a privately-held insurance holding company that writes well over $1 billion in premiums-quite profitably. Jim will share his perspective on auto insurance, regulation, public policy, and being an entrepreneur in the insurance business.

11:20 a.m.
William Koenig is Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary of "the quiet company," Northwestern Mutual. Bill will give us his perspective about reserving-especially when it involves universal-life products with secondary guarantees. His comments, which will not be quiet, should leave some members of the insurance industry feeling worried.

Lunch: Decent food; fine conversation.

1:00 p.m.
Eugene Anderson is the founding member of Anderson Kill & Olick, P.C., a law firm that represents policyholders in disputes with insurance companies. Gene, who has practiced law for fifty-two years and is known as the dean of policyholders' attorneys, will give us his thoughts on the insurance industry, ethics, regulation, and more.

1:45 p.m.
Property insurers' combined ratios are five to eight points higher than they should be, says Robert Dowdell, CEO of Marshall & Swift/Boeckh (M&S/B), which is doing something to remedy that. M&S/B, long known as a building-cost provider in claims and underwriting, has become a corporate Sherlock Holmes that uses logic and statistical analysis on the massive amounts of data it processes to improve carriers' underwriting results. "The data has an important story to tell," says Bob, who will tell us an important story about risk differentiation, pricing, database analytics, and much more.

2:45 p.m..

Warren Buffett talked to just one securities analyst: Alice Schroeder of Morgan Stanley. In 2003, Alice, then Institutional Investor's top-ranked P/C analyst, made an unusual career move-she left the day-to-day world of Wall Street to write a book about Buffett's life and philosophies. Alice, who is to Buffett what Boswell was to Johnson, won't be finished with her tome (which we predict will be a bestseller) for a couple of years. In the meantime, she'll tell you what's been on her mind.

3:45 p.m.
David Schiff will have his say on the great insurance issues of the day, and discuss where he sees value and solvency (or the lack thereof).

4:30 p.m.
Attendees will socialize with their fellow insurance mavens and observers, discussing the day's events and making deals over cocktails while taking in the view from the top of the New York Athletic Club.

6:00 p.m.
There will be an additional reception and dinner for those who want more of a good thing. The venue is the Coffee House, a convivial, somewhat worn-at-the-edges private club devoted to "agreeable, civilized conversation." Attendance is limited to 36 people.