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April 10, 2003
"Endless Risk"

9:00 a.m.

At $150 billion in annual premiums, auto insurance is far and away the largest insurance market-and Brian Sullivan, editor of the must-read Auto Insurance Report, knows more about the U.S. auto-insurance market than anyone in the world. He is skilled in making sense out of complex and diverse data from fifty states and hundreds of companies. Brian, who consorts with underwriters, auto-repair guys, CEOs, agents, marketing specialists, regulators, legislators, consumer activists, and lobbyists, knows what's happening and why. He also knows what's not happening. He'll tell all.

10:30 a.m.

Only one person has been a senior official at the SEC, president of a major stock exchange, CEO of a major securities firm, and CEO of a giant insurance company. While practicing law in the 1950s, Ralph Saul became interested in the securities business. The path he chose from there was unusual. He joined the SEC where, by the early 1960s, he was the head of the Division of Trading and Markets, which was then responsible for market regulation and enforcement. Ralph subsequently went on to become president of the American Stock Exchange, CEO of First Boston, and then CEO of INA (where he oversaw the merger with Connecticut General that formed CIGNA, of which he was co-CEO). He served as chairman of Drexel Burnham during its Chapter 11 reorganization and, until recently, was chairman of Horace Mann Educators.

Ralph has been as a director of numerous organizations including the Brookings Institution, the New York Times, the New York Stock Exchange, the Fidelity Group of Funds, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. (He inveighed against auditors' lack of independence long before the subject drew national attention.) We can be assured that Ralph will give us an independent and outspoken point of view.

11:20 a.m.

Peter Hutchings, retired EVP and CFO of The Guardian Life Insurance Company, is an actuary by training and a prudent man by nature. Back in 1991, Peter told us that actuaries' aggressive behavior had got out of hand, and he posited that the great debacles going forward might be on the liability side of the balance sheet rather than on the asset side. Peter will discuss the effects that low interest rates will have on insurance companies' balance sheets, income statements, and businesses. His conclusions may not leave you feeling jolly.


Lunch: decent food; fine conversation.

1:00 p.m.

Richard Stewart, chairman of Stewart Economics, a consulting firm specializing in insurance and insurance regulation, was a Rhodes Scholar and attorney before becoming First Assistant Counsel to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He served as New York's Superintendent of Insurance (he was a damned good one) and president of the NAIC. He was subsequently SVP and general counsel of First National City Bank (now Citigroup), then SVP and CFO of Chubb. Over the years, Dick has published influential tracts on a variety of subjects, including insurance regulation, insurer insolvency, underwriting cycles, and insurance insolvency guarantees. He'll tell you what concerns him these days.

1:45 p.m.

How do you turn a small insurance brokerage that writes long-haul trucking into a highly successful specialty insurer that does $2.2 billion in premium? Tony Markel, president of Markel Corporation, can tell you. During his 38 years in the business, Tony has demonstrated that he knows how to do something few others can do: make an underwriting profit. He also knows a thing or two about the successful acquisition of insurance companies, as well as the pain of a bad acquisition. Tony will share his pain...and his insights.

2:45 p.m.

"At the risk of sounding Pollyannaish," Warren Buffett wrote to Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders last year, "I now assure you that underwriting discipline is being restored at General Re...with appropriate urgency."

Joseph Brandon is the man Buffett appointed as CEO to lead the restoration project. Joe isn't interested in market share, rapid growth, or taking risk without commensurate reward; he's focused on underwriting discipline and profitability. Although he's a CPA, he is concerned with managing his business according to economic reality rather than generally accepted accounting principles.

Buffett predicted that Joe would make General Re "a huge asset for Berkshire." In his inimitable style, Joe will tell us what he's been thinking about lately.

3:45 p.m.

As usual, David Schiff, editor of Schiff's Insurance Observer, will interrogate the speakers and, when necessary, force them to answer brazen questions. He will also have his say on the great insurance issues of the day, and will 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 private club devoted to "agreeable, civilized conversation." Attendance is limited to 36 people.