Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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Sofia Ashmore

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SCOR acknowledges the decision taken by Sompo today not to execute its plan announced on 6 March 2015. This plan included the acquisition of 8.1% of voting rights in SCOR, and an intention to increase its holding to 15% and apply the equity accounting method to its SCOR holding.

SCOR fully respects Sompo’s decision. To SCOR’s knowledge, this decision is not the result of a reassessment by Sompo of SCOR’s financial outlook, business and prospects.

SCOR values Sompo as an important client and also values the longstanding business relationship between the two companies.

When notified of Sompo’s investment in March 2015, SCOR affirmed that this investment would have no impact on its strategic development or its corporate governance and management. SCOR’s strategy remains unchanged, and the Group is on track to deliver on the two strategic targets of its “Optimal Dynamics” plan, profitability and solvency.

As an independent company, reinforced this year by the upgrades of its ratings and the approval of its internal model, SCOR remains focused on providing best-in-class services to its clients, in Japan and throughout the world.

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Aspen Insurance, the insurance segment of Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited (“Aspen”) (NYSE:AHL) announced today that William McElroy will be appointed Global Head of Environmental, Aspen Insurance, effective November 16, 2015.

Upon joining Aspen, Bill will lead Aspen Insurance’s global environmental practice, establishing a new global platform around product capabilities and distribution across various markets and geographies. His appointment builds on the strong environmental capabilities Aspen Insurance provides within the U.S. market. Bill was until recently Senior Vice President at Liberty International Underwriters.

Mario Vitale, Chief Executive Officer, Aspen Insurance, commented, “With more than thirty years of experience, Bill brings a wealth of expertise to Aspen Insurance that will help us globalize our environmental product offerings. He will focus on bringing environmental risk transfer solutions to global customers. Bill will be an important addition to our team and I am delighted to welcome him to Aspen.”

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Aspen U.S. Insurance, part of the insurance segment of Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited (“Aspen”) (NYSE:AHL), is announcing today that David Adamczyk will be appointed Executive Vice President, Rail, Aspen Insurance, effective November 30, 2015.

Upon joining Aspen, Dave will report to Bob Rheel, President, Aspen U.S. Insurance. He will establish a railroad business line around a targeted customer strategy. Dave was until recently Senior Vice President of the Railroad Department at Liberty International Underwriters, and has previous experience at Arch, Zurich, and CNA. He is a recognized railroad expert throughout the industry.

Bob Rheel commented: “Dave has more than thirty years of experience in this specialty railroad market. His expertise is an excellent fit for Aspen’s strategy and approach to the market, where deep knowledge is a foundational component to our underwriting. I am delighted to welcome Dave to Aspen.”

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The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) announced that Jacques P. Perold, 57, former president of Fidelity Management & Research Company, has been elected to its board of directors, effective December 1, 2015. The Allstate board now stands at 11 directors.

“Jacques is an accomplished leader and executive who further strengthens our board’s diverse capabilities,” said Thomas J. Wilson, chairman and chief executive officer. “His strategic insights and 30 years of operations and investment expertise will be invaluable in creating shareholder value.”

“I look forward to serving with a respected team of directors that support Allstate’s operational excellence, best-in-class corporate governance and strategic approach to growing shareholder value,” Perold said.

Perold was president of Fidelity Management & Research Company, the investment advisor for Fidelity’s family of mutual funds with $1.8 trillion under management, until his retirement from Fidelity in 2014. He was the president of Geode Capital Management, LLC, a sub-advisor to Fidelity, with over $180 billion of assets under management, from 2001 to 2009. He is an advisory board member to New York Life Insurance Company’s MainStay mutual funds, chairman of the board of World Music, Inc., and trustee for Boston University.

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Liberty International Underwriters (LIU), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance, has appointed Michael Finnegan to the newly-created position of Chief Underwriting Officer (CUO), U.S. Operations. Based in New York, Mr. Finnegan will report to Jim Hinchley, President of LIU Americas.

“We restructured LIU’s operations in the U.S., Latin America and Canada to increase collaboration across product lines and improve distribution strategy for the entire region,” said Mr. Hinchley. “Michael has an enormous depth of reinsurance and insurance market experience, which will be invaluable as we grow the U.S. operations with new talent and tools and bring additional products to the market.”

Prior to joining LIU, Mr. Finnegan was Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Mutual Reinsurance (LMR), an independent business unit within Liberty Specialty Markets. LMR is the dedicated U.S. assumed reinsurance operation of Liberty Mutual Group.

Reporting directly to Mr. Finnegan will be:

Carl Pursiano – Senior Vice President, Specialty Casualty
Tim Kania – Senior Vice President, Energy & Construction
Don Harrell – Senior Vice President, Marine
Michael Carr – Senior Vice President, E&S Property
Additionally, Mr. Finnegan will have responsibility for a new underwriting leadership role – Head of U.S. Casualty – to oversee a number of casualty products. The leaders of Primary Casualty, Excess Casualty, Environmental, and Crisis Management will report to this new position.

“The breadth and depth of experience within the U.S. team has made it one of the top go-to markets among agents and brokers,” said Finnegan. “I am excited to work with them and implement new approaches as we take a fresh look at the operation and pursue opportunities to grow profitably and collaborate across organizational product and geographic lines.”

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$1.7 billion payout to participating policyholders in 2016 is largest in Company’s 170 years.

CEO Mathas cites strength of diversified business model as key to superior dividend performance.

New York Life, America’s largest mutual life insurer, today announced that participating policyholders will receive a record payout of $1.7 billion in 2016. Of the $1.7 billion being distributed next year, individual life insurance policyholders are expected to receive more than $1.6 billion, also a record payout.

Even more impressively, the 2016 payout to the company’s life insurance policyholders represents a 37 percent increase in dividend payout in the four years since the 2012 distribution of $1.19 billion.

Ted Mathas, chairman and CEO, said, “The robust, four-year 37 percent increase in our dividend payout to life insurance policyholders since 2012 is a direct result of our execution of a diversified business strategy. Specifically, New York Life policyholders are benefiting from our large and growing investment management business, which not only provides the safety of diversification, but also meaningfully contributes to both our surplus and our dividends. Other smaller business lines are also contributing to policyholder dividends. This is a very real and sustainable competitive advantage for our policyholders, who have the best of both worlds: unsurpassed credit-worthiness while delivering superior performance.”

Mr. Mathas continued, “With the zero interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve now in its seventh year, and only modest interest rate increases expected over the near term, policyholders can be comforted by the fact that New York Life’s diversified strategy is working to their benefit. Our ability to sustain and grow our dividend payout is working as planned.”

Every year since 1854 New York Life has paid a dividend to policyholders, a validation of the company’s mutual structure and singular focus on creating value for its customers. 2015 will mark the 161st consecutive year that New York Life has paid a dividend, through the Civil War, world wars, pandemics and financial crises.

Mr. Mathas said that the company also continues to experience very good persistency as policyholders maintain their policies in force despite the slow-growth economy. This speaks not only to the value proposition the company provides its policyholders but also the consumer appeal of New York Life’s unsurpassed ratings for financial strength. Of the 825 life insurers in the United States today, only two—including New York Life—have the highest ratings for financial strength currently awarded to any life insurer by the four major rating agencies.

2016 will mark the 162nd consecutive year that New York Life has paid a dividend to policyholders, through the Civil War, world wars, pandemics and financial crises, a validation of the company’s mutual structure and singular focus on creating value for its customers.

“As a mutual company we are uniquely aligned with our policyholders and are able to manage our operations for their long-term insurance and financial needs,” Mr. Mathas said. “This year’s dividend payout, however, also reflects the success of our business strategy, which couples our market-leading life and annuity businesses with a growing, global asset management operation,” added Mr. Mathas. “Because we are not publicly traded, the profits we generate from our asset management business can be used in part to support policyholders by allowing us to pay a healthy dividend while maintaining the financial strength necessary to provide safety and soundness, in good times and bad.”

New York Life Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States* and one of the largest life insurers in the world. New York Life has the highest possible financial strength ratings currently awarded to any life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s (AA+).** Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life Investments*** provides institutional asset management and retirement plan services. Other New York Life affiliates provide an array of securities products and services, as well as retail mutual funds. Please visit www.newyorklife.com for more information.

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Joseph Anthony Mele, 30, of Ventura pleaded no contest to multiple felony counts including grand theft by false pretenses, theft from an elder and money laundering for ripping off two senior victims for $2 million in an annuity scam.

“Elder financial abuse is an egregious crime,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Mele lined his pockets with profits gained by violating his client’s trust and fiduciary responsibility as a licensed insurance agent.”

The California Department of Insurance Investigation Bureau began a joint investigation with the Santa Barbara Police Department in October 2014 after receiving notification of suspected elder abuse from the Santa Barbara Financial Abuse Specialist Team and Adult Protective Services.

The investigation revealed that Joseph Anthony Mele acted as a financial planner for a 93-year-old woman and convinced her to reinvest her existing retirement portfolio with him. In June 2007, he sold her $1,154,268 in long-term annuities. Over the course of seven years, Mele twisted and churned these annuities, a deceptive practice of rewriting annuities in order to obtain additional commissions under the guise of providing better returns. Mele earned $295,965 in commissions and caused the victim to lose more than $500,000 in surrender penalties. In addition, Mele wrote himself $800,000 in unauthorized checks from the victim’s checking account so he could invest the funds for her. Bank records revealed this money was never remitted to an insurance company but used for personal expenses including entertainment, travel and gambling.

Department investigators also uncovered a second victim, a 74-year-old woman who lost $80,000 in surrender penalties, lost premium and interest, and suffered additional tax liability after Mele convinced her to surrender her annuities early.

Department investigators were able to get some insurers to refund surrender penalties for victims, once Mele’s scam was revealed.
The department has taken legal action to permanently revoke Mele’s insurance license. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case. Mele faces up to 30 years in prison, restitution of more than $800,000 and fines of $1.6 million when he is sentenced on January 4, 2016 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

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Many Americans aged 34 to 50 lose track of their financial risks as they pursue careers, raise families and accumulate wealth, according to a new white paper from Chubb Personal Insurance. In addition, many neglect to secure sufficient insurance coverage as their wealth increases.

The white paper, “A Lost Generation? Wealth Accumulators Are an Overlooked Opportunity for Advisors,” describes various personal property and liability exposures faced by the approximately 60 million Americans born between 1965 and 1981. It also recommends that wealth advisors work with specialist insurers, agents and brokers to help provide high-net-worth individuals in this age group with effective risk management strategies and insurance coverages.

“Clearly, there is a great opportunity for wealth advisors to work with this age group,” said Stacey Silipo, director of strategic partnerships at Chubb Personal Insurance. “However, to be successful, advisors will need to better understand these prospective clients and then be in a position to help them minimize all the major risks to achieving their financial goals.”
According to the white paper, many people in their mid-30s to late 40s share the same risk characteristics as younger adults, but often at a substantially greater exposure level. Noteworthy
examples include:
They are more likely to acquire secondary or vacation homes in locations subject to fires, flood, storms or other adverse conditions.
They are better able to afford art, jewelry and other valuable possessions, exposing themselves to greater potential for theft and other property loss.
Children can expose them to vicarious liability—and potential financial ruin—through auto and home-related accidents and social media activities.

“It all happens so fast. One day you’ve just graduated law school and you’re in debt and renting a hole-in-the-wall studio apartment. The next day you’re buying a second home, art and a classic car, and then your kids are leaving the nest for college,” said Silipo. “It’s so easy to lose track of time and to lose track of your risks. An advisor can help put you back on track.”

“A Lost Generation? Wealth Accumulators Are an Overlooked Opportunity for Advisors” is available at: http://www.chubb.com/journalists/chubb21039.pdf.

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By the year 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates more than 40 million drivers will range from age 65 and older. After teens, this population segment has the most road fatalities because older drivers are more susceptible to serious injuries according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
To help keep senior drivers safer, GEICO recommends these tips.

Get your eyes checked: The American Optometric Association recommends individuals 61 and older get comprehensive annual eye exams. As people age, their eyes can often change, creating the need for glasses. An eye exam can also detect other vision changes, such as issues detecting objects in low light or impairments such as cataracts.
Know your limits: If you struggle to see in low light, consider cutting back on night driving. Similarly, if physical conditions like arthritis become aggravated from sitting in the car for long amounts of time, try limiting your time behind the wheel to shorter road trips.

Know your state’s rules: In a number of states, drivers older than a certain age must renew their licenses more frequently. For example, drivers in Hawaii and Iowa need to obtain new drivers licenses every two years past age 72. To learn your individual state’s rules, visit this table from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Be mindful of medications: Some medications may have impairing side effects that could affect the ability to drive. Talk to your doctor before starting a new medication to make sure it won’t jeopardize your safety behind the wheel.

If you have a senior driver in your family, a time may come when you have to look at drastically limiting their driving or discontinuing it altogether. Look for some of the following signs recommended by AARP to determine if you should have a conversation about stopping driving.
Frequent close calls or near accidents
Dents and scrapes on the car
Getting lost in familiar areas
Delayed reactions to unexpected situations
Repeatedly receiving citations or warnings from law enforcement
Seniors also can brush up on safe driving techniques by taking a defensive driving course. In addition to becoming a safer driver, many states will allow a discount on select insurance coverages after an individual takes a defensive driving course.
GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 13 million private passenger customers and insures more than 22 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

GEICO’s online service center helps policyholders take care of policy sales, policy changes and claims reporting, and print insurance ID cards. Policyholders can also connect to GEICO through the GEICO App, reach a representative over the phone or visit a GEICO local agent.

GEICO also provides insurance quotes on motorcycles, boats, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), travel trailers and motorhomes (RVs). Coverage for life, homes and apartments is written by non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Commercial auto insurance and personal umbrella protection are also available.

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Zurich announces proposals to cut up to 440 jobs in its UK general insurance business as part of a programme to reduce costs in the organisation and simplify its operating structure.

The UK insurance market has become steadily more challenging and the drivers for this – including low investment returns and increasing loss trends – have accelerated in recent months.

Zurich is a financially robust organisation – both globally and in the UK. The nine month Results announced by Zurich Group last week however highlight the need for operational change – both to drive forward the UK business and to contribute to the success of Zurich globally.

Today the business has begun consulting its employees on the proposals and will be supporting them throughout this time of change.

There are two main drivers for these changes. Firstly, the organisation needs to become a less expensive operation in order to remain competitive, and aims to reduce costs by at least £40 million over the next two years in the UK. Also, feedback from customers and brokers suggests a more straightforward business model is necessary.

This is part of a global group-wide transformation programme which aims to deliver annual run-rate cost savings of US$300 million by the end of 2016, and of more than US$1 billion by the end of 2018.

One example of how the business can become more efficient is within its Commercial Broker division. It is proposing to introduce a simpler structure resulting in much faster decision times when it comes to writing new business, and therefore developing better outcomes for customers.

The plans put more underwriting decisions and transactions into the branches, where it is expected that most decisions will be made.

The drive for efficiency and lower cost will not however prevent Zurich from investing in improvements that will lead to better service for customers and brokers. An example of this is the continued investment to simplify the claims handling process across all customer sizes ensuring Zurich’s claims handling remains market-leading.

The proposals to cut jobs are underway and will continue until the end of March next year. At the moment it is not possible to announce the majority of the specific changes as they will be worked through over the course of this programme.

Zurich’s commitment is to its employees so the outcome of the proposals announced today will be shared with them before the wider market is made aware.

Other changes within Zurich

The Global Corporate insurance business in the UK announced proposals last month to cut around 35 roles from the business. These plans also aim to reduce cost and simplify the structure of the organisation.

The Life market in the UK is changing for all participants, and Zurich is gaining market share profitably. It will however continue to look to reduce costs and bring new propositions to the market.

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Traditional insurers are launching offers “full web” quick and easy access but they take the risk of becoming less loyal customers.

Direct sales on digital channels remains for the time still very low in France, around 5% of total sales. But she is a strong potential, especially for the new generation Y and for simple insurance products. Thus, Allianz and Axa already offer express quote and subscriptions fully online self or by HRM through electronic signature. “We had to respond to a request of the population to the changing uses,” says Delphine Asseraf on digital marketing manager at Allianz.

But, with the possibility of buying a click is the question of loyalty. Including how to respond to a particularly volatile Generation Y? Especially as the Hamon law and comparators ramping should reinforce this trend.

First, digital customers will be more sensitive and faithful to modular offerings, to subscribe closer to the needs, think Alain Burtin, director market & customer intelligence service within the unit and Digital Market Management at Allianz. Internet must allow this customized. Allianz and Axa, leaders in digital, also favor a value-added approach to retain the customer. “If the digital boils down to a low-cost approach, the customer may go elsewhere easily. On the contrary, it allows a rewarding experience with differentiating services on a wide modular range, it is possible to build customer loyalty, “said Alain Burtin at Allianz. “We believe customer loyalty online by enriching our offering new services that are not found elsewhere,” adds Thierry Fabing, deputy director of digital Axa France.

In sum, the customer must say, “I this service here and not elsewhere.” But in this context, the comparison is made difficult by conventional comparators and insurers and are trying to develop each their own internal comparison tool.

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ACE Limited announced today the leadership team it intends to appoint for the company’s North American insurance operations. The appointments will take effect upon completion of the acquisition of Chubb, which is expected in the first quarter of next year.

The appointments are aligned with an organizational structure centered on specific commercial and personal property and casualty (P&C) customer segments – large corporate clients; middle market and small commercial clients; and affluent and high net worth (HNW) personal lines clients. The organizational structure is also designed to maximize the strengths of the company’s extensive branch and field organization and expanded agency and brokerage distribution relationships.

John Lupica will serve as Vice Chairman of the parent company and Co-President of the North America Insurance division. Currently Vice Chairman of ACE Group and Chairman of the company’s Insurance — North American businesses, Mr. Lupica will have executive operating responsibility for the retail commercial P&C insurance businesses that serve the large corporate market in the U.S. and Canada, the excess and surplus lines (E&S) market in the U.S. and Bermuda, and the agriculture insurance market in the United States. Reporting to Mr. Lupica will be the company’s business that provides P&C insurance coverage to large domestic and multinational corporations through retail brokers and agents (currently known as ACE USA and the large corporate business of Chubb); the company’s U.S.-based E&S and specialty products business (currently known as ACE Westchester and Chubb Custom); the company’s insurance operations in the Bermuda wholesale market (currently known as ACE Bermuda and Chubb Atlantic); and the company’s agriculture insurance business. Mr. Lupica’s scope of responsibility will include all P&C products, underwriting, claims, actuarial and support functions related to these businesses. Mr. Lupica will also have executive responsibility for the company’s branch operations and field organization in North America that serves the agents and brokers of Chubb and ACE, and he will have responsibility for North America’s information technology group. Mr. Lupica will report to John Keogh, who is currently Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of ACE Group and who will continue to serve in that role for the parent company.

Dino Robusto will serve as Executive Vice President of the parent company and Co-President of the North America Insurance division. Currently President of Commercial and Specialty Lines for Chubb, Mr. Robusto will have executive operating responsibility for the retail commercial P&C insurance businesses serving the middle market and small commercial customer segments for all products in the United States and Canada through a broad distribution system that includes independent agents and brokers. In addition, the company’s personal lines insurance business serving affluent and HNW individuals and families in North America (currently known as ACE Private Risk Services and Chubb Personal Insurance) will report to Mr. Robusto. Mr. Robusto’s scope of responsibility will include all P&C products, underwriting, claims, actuarial and support functions related to these businesses, as well as a matrixed responsibility for the field organization personnel responsible for the sales and servicing of the middle market, small commercial and HNW personal lines markets. Mr. Robusto will also have executive responsibility for the company’s North American claims organization serving both commercial and personal P&C customers. Mr. Robusto will report to Mr. Keogh and will join the parent company’s Executive Committee.

Harold Morrison, Jr. will serve as Senior Vice President of the parent company and Executive Vice President and Chief Field Officer for the North America Insurance division. Currently Chief Global Field Officer and Chief Administrative Officer for Chubb, Mr. Morrison will be responsible for the branch and field organization, which will be a tremendous asset and competitive advantage of the company and includes more than 50 offices in the U.S. and Canada. Working closely with Mr. Lupica and Mr. Robusto, Mr. Morrison will ensure the field organization is aligned with the company’s North American growth strategies and he will be responsible for servicing and managing the business and company relationships with the company’s agent and broker distribution partners in North America. Mr. Morrison will report to Mr. Lupica.

“I am delighted to announce the future North America leadership team for our company,” said Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ACE Group. “John, Dino and Harold are highly talented, experienced leaders with long track records of success building and managing insurance businesses. We are fortunate to have executives with this kind of leadership skill and industry experience to lead our commercial and personal P&C operations in North America. In John and Dino, the two most senior North American operating executives, I have every confidence in their ability and passion to drive business results, achieve our collective vision and fulfill the tremendous potential that our two companies together represent. In his continued role as Vice Chairman of the parent company, John has been and will continue to be a great partner to both John Keogh and me. He will also be a great partner in helping our Chubb colleagues navigate and understand the ACE culture and organization. John Keogh and I welcome Dino and Harold to the future senior management team. We look forward to working with them.”

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ACE Limited announced today that Paul Krump, currently President of Personal Lines and Claims for Chubb, will serve as Executive Vice President for Global Underwriting and Claims for the parent company.

The intended appointment will take effect upon completion of the acquisition of Chubb, which is expected in the first quarter of next year.

Mr. Krump will provide counsel, assistance and direction to Frank Lattal, who is currently Chief Claims Officer for ACE Group and who will continue to serve in that role and report to Mr. Krump. Mr. Krump will also partner with Jacques Bonneau, who is Executive Vice President, Global Underwriting, ACE Group and who will continue to serve in that role to advance underwriting excellence across the organization. Mr. Krump will report to John Keogh, who is currently Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of ACE Group and who will continue to serve in that role. In addition, Mr. Krump will join the parent company’s Executive Committee.

“I am pleased to announce our intention to appoint Paul to this senior corporate position where he will work closely with our many underwriting and claims executive colleagues around the globe,” said Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ACE. “Working with Frank, Paul will call upon his tremendous experience, including many years in general management, to bring together the strengths of both companies’ claims organizations. Paul is an underwriter’s underwriter and he will bring to bear his proven record and deep insights into risk and all facets of underwriting. After all, underwriting is the reason we exist as a company, and a well-run insurance company is an underwriting company.”

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The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA) has published a discussion paper on the use of credit ratings by financial intermediaries in the EU.

The paper presents a set of questions to banks and other financial institutions and ‎intermediaries concerning their reliance on credit ratings in their contractual practice, that is outside of the cases in which reliance on ratings is required by the existing regulatory framework. The questions are also addressed to national supervisors ‎who are welcome to contribute their views on the subject.

The Joint Committee will use the replies to the discussion paper together with an independent study carried out by one of the most authoritative academics in the field to present in second quarter of 2015 a first draft of possible alternatives to credit ratings.

The closing date for responses is 27 February 2015.

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Christmas can be a difficult time for Britain’s small and medium sized businesses, however over half (52%) of SMEs are feeling positive about trade in the lead up to Christmas this year. 13% actively feel negative about this period for their business.

The findings come from Zurich’s latest SME Risk Index, which also reveals that younger business decision makers are more likely to feel optimistic in the run up to the festive season. While 56% of 25-34 year old SME decision makers surveyed felt positively about trade in the lead up to Christmas, just 45% of those aged 55 or more felt the same.

The research also shows that SMEs with a seasonal business model do face extra challenges. Over a third (38%) of those who would describe their business as seasonal say they have experienced cash flow problems due to periodic fluctuations in trade, and almost a quarter (23%) say they struggle to plan for the future.

Richard Coleman, Director of SME at Zurich, comments:
“The festive period can prove make or break for some small and medium businesses, with modern retailing events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday making it clearer than ever before that a great many businesses rely on a significant influx of cash flow at this time.

“Yet it’s encouraging to see that our younger generation of business owners feels more optimistic about what the festive season holds. While there are pressures to meet certain targets, planning for a range of scenarios and factoring in potential risks will help to avoid any seasonal shocks to the business. If trade levels do start to fall below expectations, a solid plan will allow businesses to remain nimble, acting quickly to generate interest in alternative ways, or to manage any supply or cashflow issues”

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Fitch Ratings has affirmed the financial strength rating of Italian insurer Generali and its subsidiaries to ‘A-‘ credit rating and long-term “BBB +”, both with stable outlook.

Fitch Ratings confirmed late last week finacière strength rating of “A-” of Generali and all of its subsidiaries, with a stable outlook. The rating agency also confirmed the credit rating of long-term “BBB +” from Italian insurer, also with a stable outlook.

According to Fitch, Generali should continue to deliver solid operational performance in the coming months – particularly Casualty – while preserving capital and reducing its debt, thanks to its new governance. Nevertheless, “the capital of Generali is vulnerable to shocks due to its high exposure to Italian sovereign debt” (55Mds euros, or 2.8 times its consolidated equity at the end of 2013), tempers the rating agency. It also believes that significant levels of goodwill and intangible company “negatively affect the quality of its capital.”

Fitch believes, however, that the operations of assets incurred by Generali Worldwide 2015 (3.7Mds euros now) sales should allow the insurer to Trieste to strengthen its capital and repay its debt. Its leverage ratio (FLR) calculated by the rating agency reached 35% at end 2013. Insurer plans to reduce its debt of 1 billion euros by 2015, “therefore, Fitch s’ expected that the RPF falls below 35% in the medium term. ”

Fitch finally states that Generali notes could be downgraded if its consolidated Solvency I ratio falls below 120% on a sustainable basis, or if the consolidated leverage ratio remains equal to or greater than 35% over the next 12 to 18 months. Notes Generali are also likely to be downgraded if Italy is downgraded.

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ACE  today reported net income for the quarter ended June 30, 2014, of $2.28 per share, compared with $2.59 per share for the same quarter last year(1). Operating income was $2.42 per share, compared with $2.29 per share for the same quarter last year. Book value and tangible book value per share increased 3.8% and 3.9%, respectively, from March 31, 2014. Book value and tangible book value per share now stand at $90.19 and $73.77, respectively. Operating return on equity for the quarter was 11.8%. The property and casualty (P&C) combined ratio for the quarter was 87.5%.

Second Quarter Summary
(in millions, except per share amounts)
(Unaudited)
(Per Share – Diluted)
2014 2013 Change 2014 2013 Change
Operating income, net of tax $ 825 $ 790 4.5 % $ 2.42 $ 2.29 5.7 %
Adjusted net realized gains (losses), net of tax (46 ) 101 NM (0.14 ) 0.30 NM
Net income $ 779 $ 891 (12.5 )% $ 2.28 $ 2.59 (12.0 )%

For the six months ended June 30, 2014, net income was $4.43 per share, compared with $5.36 per share for 2013. Operating income was $4.69 per share, compared with $4.46 per share for 2013. Book value increased $1.5 billion, up 5.2% from December 31, 2013, and tangible book value increased almost $1.4 billion, up 5.9%. The P&C combined ratio for the six months ended June 30, 2014, was 88.2%.

Six Months Ended Summary
(in millions, except per share amounts)
(Unaudited)
(Per Share – Diluted)
2014 2013 Change 2014 2013 Change
Operating income, net of tax $ 1,602 $ 1,536 4.3 % $ 4.69 $ 4.46 5.2 %
Adjusted net realized gains (losses), net of tax (89 ) 308 NM (0.26 ) 0.90 NM
Net income $ 1,513 $ 1,844 (18.0 )% $ 4.43 $ 5.36 (17.4 )%

Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ACE Limited, commented: “ACE’s excellent second quarter results were marked by strong earnings, very good premium revenue growth globally and continued expansion of our business in the majority of markets in which we operate – both developed and developing. After-tax operating income of $825 million was driven by strong growth in underwriting and good investment income results, which together produced an operating ROE of about 12%. Per share book value increased nearly 4% in the quarter and over 6% for the year.

“P&C underwriting income was up 10% with a combined ratio of 87.5%. The growth in underwriting was driven by current accident year underwriting income before catastrophe losses, which was up nearly 12% as a result of global P&C net earned premium growth of 8.5%, as well as margin improvement in our international business. On the investment side, net investment income was up over 4% — a very good result in this environment which benefited from our strong growth in invested assets.

“P&C net premiums written excluding agriculture were up 7% in constant dollars. This premium growth was well distributed across the company by territory, product line and customer segment with double-digit contributions from Asia and Latin America and solid single-digit growth in North America and the continent of Europe. Our ability to generate sustained premium revenue growth reflects our deepening presence and capabilities in important long-term growth markets of the world. In two of these, Thailand and Brazil, we either completed or announced acquisitions in the quarter that meaningfully advance our company strategically. With the addition of Samaggi Insurance, ACE is now the largest foreign-owned P&C insurer in Thailand. Similarly, the combination of our existing business in Brazil and Itaú Seguros’s corporate P&C business, which we plan to acquire early next year, will make ACE the largest commercial P&C insurer in that country.”

Operating highlights for the quarter ended June 30, 2014, were as follows:

(in millions of U.S. dollars except for percentages) 2Q 2Q
2014 2013 Change

P&C

Net premiums written $

4,061

$

3,904

4.0

%

Net premiums written constant-dollar $

3,885

4.5 %
Underwriting income $ 478 $ 434 10.3 %
GAAP combined ratio

87.7

%

87.9

%
Combined ratio

87.5

%

87.9

%
Current accident year underwriting income excluding catastrophe losses

$

432

$

387

11.9

%

Current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses

88.7

%

89.2

%

Global P&C (excludes Agriculture)

Net premiums written $ 3,673 $ 3,451 6.4 %
Net premiums written constant-dollar $ 3,432 7.0 %
Underwriting income $ 451 $ 399 13.2 %
Combined ratio

87.1

%

87.7

%
Current accident year underwriting income excluding catastrophe losses

$

396

$

349

13.8

%

Current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses

88.7

%

89.2

%

Agriculture

Net premiums written $ 388 $ 453 (14.2) %
Underwriting income $ 27 $ 35

(22.7)

%

Combined ratio

91.8

%

89.9

%
Current accident year underwriting income excluding catastrophe losses

$

36

$

38

(5.5)

%

Current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses

89.1

%

89.1

%
  • P&C net premiums earned increased 7.1%, or 7.4% on a constant-dollar basis. Global P&C net premiums earned increased 8.5%, or 8.8% on a constant-dollar basis.
  • The P&C expense ratio for the quarter was 29.3% compared with 29.2% last year. The Global P&C expense ratio, which excludes Agriculture, was 31.4% compared with 31.7% last year.
  • Total pre-tax and after-tax catastrophe losses including reinstatement premiums were $80 million (2.1 percentage points of the combined ratio) and $67 million, respectively, compared with $81 million (2.3 percentage points of the combined ratio) and $66 million, respectively, last year.
  • Favorable prior period development pre-tax and after-tax for the quarter were $126 million (3.3 percentage points of the combined ratio) and $106 million, respectively, compared with $128 million (3.6 percentage points of the combined ratio) and $109 million, respectively, last year.
  • Operating cash flow was $846 million for the quarter.
  • Net loss reserves increased $298 million in the quarter and the net paid-to-incurred ratio was 90% for the quarter.
  • Net investment income for the quarter increased 4.2% to $556 million.
  • Net realized and unrealized gains pre-tax totaled $523 million for the quarter, which included net realized losses of $45 million and net unrealized gains of $568 million.
  • Operating return on equity was 11.8% for the quarter and 11.5% year-to-date. Return on equity computed using net income was 10.4% for the quarter and 10.2% year-to-date.
  • Share repurchases totaled $237 million, or approximately 2.3 million shares, during the quarter. Since the inception of the November 2013 share repurchase authorization, the company has repurchased approximately 7.1 million shares for $699 million through July 21, 2014.
  • Book value per share increased 3.8% to $90.19 from $86.90 at March 31, 2014, and increased 6.3% from $84.83 at December 31, 2013.
  • Tangible book value per share increased 3.9% to $73.77 from $70.97 at March 31, 2014, and increased 7.0% from $68.93 at December 31, 2013.

Details of financial results by business segment are available in the ACE Limited Financial Supplement. Key segment items for the quarter ended June 30, 2014, include:

  • Insurance – North American P&C: Net premiums written increased 6.9%. The combined ratio was 87.1% compared with 87.6%. The current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses was 87.3%, unchanged from last year.
  • Insurance – North American Agriculture: Net premiums written decreased 14.2% driven by lower commodity prices. The combined ratio was 91.8% compared with 89.9%. The current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses was 89.1%, unchanged from last year.
  • Insurance – Overseas General: Net premiums written increased 8.0%, or 8.8% on a constant-dollar basis. The combined ratio was 87.1% compared with 88.2%. The current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses was 89.3% compared with 90.5%.
  • Global Reinsurance: Net premiums written decreased 4.9% for the quarter. The combined ratio was 69.9% compared with 62.2%. The current accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses was 75.4% compared with 70.0%.
  • Life segment: Operating income was $72 million compared with $76 million. Net premiums written and deposits collected, excluding life reinsurance, increased 14.2% on a constant-dollar basis. International life net premiums written increased 17.9% on a constant-dollar basis.

Please refer to the ACE Limited Financial Supplement, dated June 30, 2014, which is posted on the company’s website in the Investor Information section, and access Financial Reports for more detailed information on individual segment performance, together with additional disclosure on reinsurance recoverable, loss reserves, investment portfolio and capital structure.

ACE will hold its second quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. The earnings conference call will be available via live webcast at www.acegroup.com or by dialing 888-318-7470 (within the United States) or 719-325-2490 (international), passcode 5083653. Please refer to the ACE Group website in the Investor Information section under Calendar of Events for details. A replay of the call will be available until Wednesday, August 6, 2014, and the archived webcast will be available for approximately one month. To listen to the replay, please dial 888-203-1112 (in the United States) or 719-457-0820 (international), passcode 5083653.

ACE Group is one of the world’s largest multiline property and casualty insurers. With operations in 54 countries, ACE provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. ACE Limited, the parent company of ACE Group, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACE) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Additional information can be found at: www.acegroup.com.

(1) All comparisons are with the same period last year unless specifically stated.

Regulation G – Non-GAAP Financial Measures

In presenting our results, we included and discussed certain non-GAAP measures. These non-GAAP measures, which may be defined differently by other companies, are important for an understanding of our overall results of operations and financial condition. However, they should not be viewed as a substitute for measures determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

Adjusted net realized gains (losses), net of tax, includes net realized gains (losses) and net realized gains (losses) recorded in other income (expense) related to unconsolidated subsidiaries, and excludes realized gains and losses from fair value changes on crop derivatives. These derivatives were purchased to provide economic benefit, in a manner similar to reinsurance protection, in the event that a significant decline in commodity pricing will impact underwriting results. We view changes in the fair value of these derivatives as part of the results of our underwriting operations, and therefore realized gains and losses from these derivatives are reclassified to adjusted losses and loss expenses. The P&C combined ratio includes adjusted losses and loss expenses in the ratio numerator.

Net premiums written on a constant-dollar basis is a financial measure which excludes the impact of foreign exchange. We believe it is useful to evaluate the trends in net premiums written, exclusive of the effect of fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the currencies in which our international business is transacted, as these exchange rates could fluctuate significantly between periods and distort the analysis of trends. The impact is determined by assuming constant foreign exchange rates between periods by translating prior period results using the same local currency exchange rates as the comparable current period.

Underwriting income, P&C underwriting income, and Global P&C underwriting income are calculated by subtracting losses and loss expenses, policy benefits, policy acquisition costs and administrative expenses from net premiums earned. P&C underwriting income also includes gains (losses) from fair value changes on crop derivatives. We use underwriting income and operating ratios to monitor the results of our operations without the impact of certain factors, including net investment income, other income (expense), interest and income tax expense and adjusted net realized gains (losses). Current accident year underwriting income excluding catastrophe losses is underwriting income adjusted to exclude catastrophe losses and prior period development (PPD). We believe it is useful to exclude catastrophe losses, as they are not predictable as to timing and amount, and PPD as these unexpected loss developments on historical reserves are not indicative of our current underwriting performance. We believe the use of these measures enhances the understanding of our results of operations by highlighting the underlying profitability of our insurance business.

Operating income or income excluding adjusted net realized gains (losses), net of tax is a common performance measurement for insurance companies. We believe this presentation enhances the understanding of our results of operations by highlighting the underlying profitability of our insurance business. We exclude adjusted net realized gains (losses) because the amount of these gains (losses) is heavily influenced by the availability of market opportunities.

P&C combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses and PPD or current accident year P&C combined ratio excluding catastrophe losses exclude impacts of catastrophe losses and PPD. We believe this measure provides a better evaluation of our core underwriting performance and enhances the understanding of the trends in our property and casualty business that may be obscured by these items.

Global P&C performance metrics comprise consolidated operating results (including corporate) and exclude the operating results of the company’s Life and Insurance – North American Agriculture segments. We believe that these measures are useful and meaningful to investors as they are used by management to assess the company’s global P&C operations which are the most economically similar. We exclude the Insurance – North American Agriculture and Life segments because the results of these businesses do not always correlate with the results of our global P&C operations.

Life net premiums written and deposits collected, excluding life reinsurance, is adjusted to include deposits collected on universal life and investment contracts (life deposits) and exclude results from our life reinsurance business. Life deposits are not reflected as revenues in our consolidated statements of operations in accordance with GAAP. We include life deposits in presenting growth in our Life business because new life deposits are an important component of production and key to our efforts to grow our business. We exclude results associated with life reinsurance as there is no new life reinsurance business currently being written.

Operating return on equity (ROE) or ROE calculated using operating income is an annualized financial measure. The ROE numerator includes income adjusted to exclude adjusted net realized gains (losses), net of tax. The ROE denominator includes the average shareholders’ equity for the period adjusted to exclude unrealized gains (losses) on investments, net of tax. To annualize a quarterly rate, multiply by four. Annualized ROE calculated using operating income is a useful measure as it enhances the understanding of the return on shareholders’ equity by highlighting the underlying profitability relative to shareholders’ equity excluding the effect of unrealized gains and losses on our investments.

Tangible book value per common share is shareholders’ equity less goodwill and other intangible assets divided by the shares outstanding. We believe that goodwill and other intangible assets are not indicative of our underlying insurance results or trends and make book value comparisons to less acquisitive peer companies less meaningful.

See reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures on pages 21-22 in the Financial Supplement. These measures should not be viewed as a substitute for net income, return on equity, or effective tax rate determined in accordance with GAAP.

NM – not meaningful comparison

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:

Forward-looking statements made in this press release, such as those related to company performance, growth opportunities, and the anticipated acquisition of the large corporate P&C business of Itaú Seguros, S.A., reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially, including without limitation, the following: competition, pricing and policy term trends, the levels of new and renewal business achieved, the frequency of unpredictable catastrophic events, actual loss experience, uncertainties in the reserving or settlement process, integration activities and performance of acquired companies, the risk that the acquisition from Itaú Seguros, S.A. will not close, new theories of liability, judicial, legislative, regulatory and other governmental developments, litigation developments, investigation developments and actual settlement terms, the amount and timing of reinsurance recoverable, credit developments among reinsurers, rating agency action, possible terrorism or the outbreak and effects of war, economic, political, regulatory, insurance and reinsurance business conditions, potential strategic opportunities including acquisitions and our ability to achieve and integrate them, as well as management’s response to these factors, and other factors identified in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the dates on which they are made. ACE undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

ACE Limited
Summary Consolidated Balance Sheets
(in millions of U.S. dollars, except per share data)
(Unaudited)
June 30 December 31
2014 2013
Assets
Investments $ 63,620 $ 60,928
Cash 594 579
Insurance and reinsurance balances receivable 5,316 5,026
Reinsurance recoverable on losses and loss expenses 10,768 11,227
Other assets 17,149 16,750
Total assets $ 97,447 $ 94,510
Liabilities
Unpaid losses and loss expenses $ 37,177 $ 37,443
Unearned premiums 8,296 7,539
Other liabilities 21,649 20,703
Total liabilities 67,122 65,685
Shareholders’ equity
Total shareholders’ equity 30,325 28,825
Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity $ 97,447 $ 94,510
Book value per common share $ 90.19 $ 84.83
ACE Limited
Summary Consolidated Financial Data
(in millions of U.S. dollars, except share, per share data, and ratios)
(Unaudited)
Three Months Ended Six Months Ended
June 30 June 30
2014 2013 2014 2013
Gross premiums written $ 6,006 $ 6,030 $ 11,380 $ 10,993
Net premiums written 4,559 4,391 8,744 8,189
Net premiums earned 4,332 4,067 8,302 7,640
Losses and loss expenses 2,388 2,250 4,549 4,176
Policy benefits 144 110 258 241
Policy acquisition costs 758 665 1,486 1,279
Administrative expenses 566 564 1,101 1,078
Net investment income 556 534 1,109 1,065
Net realized gains (losses) (73 ) 104 (177 ) 310
Interest expense 72 73 143 133
Other income (expense):
Gains (losses) from separate account assets 17 (11 ) 11 (7 )
Other 8 (26 ) 31 (20 )
Income tax expense 133 115 226 237
Net income $ 779 $ 891 $ 1,513 $ 1,844
Diluted earnings per share:
Operating income $ 2.42 $ 2.29 $ 4.69 $ 4.46
Net income $ 2.28 $ 2.59 $ 4.43 $ 5.36
Weighted average diluted shares outstanding 341.1 344.1 341.6 344.0
Loss and loss expense ratio 58.4 % 58.7 % 58.0 % 58.0 %
Policy acquisition cost ratio 16.6 % 15.9 % 17.1 % 16.5 %
Administrative expense ratio 12.7 % 13.3 % 13.1 % 13.6 %
GAAP combined ratio 87.7 % 87.9 % 88.2 % 88.1 %
P&C underwriting income $ 478 $ 434 $ 868 $ 798
ACE Limited
Consolidated Supplemental Segment Information
(in millions of U.S. dollars)
(Unaudited)
Three Months Ended Six Months Ended
June 30 June 30
2014 2013 2014 2013

Gross Premiums Written

Insurance – North American P&C $ 2,347 $ 2,327 $ 4,371 $ 4,146
Insurance – North American Agriculture 601 749 835 998
Insurance – Overseas General 2,224 2,097 4,485 4,170
Global Reinsurance 308 345 641 639
Life 526 512 1,048 1,040
Total $ 6,006 $ 6,030 $ 11,380 $ 10,993

Net Premiums Written

Insurance – North American P&C $ 1,635 $ 1,529 $ 3,053 $ 2,813
Insurance – North American Agriculture 388 453 582 566
Insurance – Overseas General 1,760 1,630 3,531 3,250
Global Reinsurance 278 292 586 571
Life 498 487 992 989
Total $ 4,559 $ 4,391 $ 8,744 $ 8,189

Net Premiums Earned

Insurance – North American P&C $ 1,542 $ 1,428 $ 3,029 $ 2,766
Insurance – North American Agriculture 330 351 433 403
Insurance – Overseas General 1,709 1,563 3,321 3,022
Global Reinsurance 261 245 545 492
Life 490 480 974 957
Total $ 4,332 $ 4,067 $ 8,302 $ 7,640

Operating Income (loss)

Insurance – North American P&C $ 378 $ 341 $ 789 $ 702
Insurance – North American Agriculture 19 26 (6 ) 33
Insurance – Overseas General 282 256 521 495
Global Reinsurance 146 156 290 300
Life 72 76 149 146
Corporate (72 ) (65 ) (141 ) (140 )
Total $ 825 $ 790 $ 1,602 $ 1,536

0 0

Leading insurer Zurich has increased its financial evidence limits for customers applying for life and critical illness insurance, so that getting cover is quicker and easier for both advisers and their customers.

The changes mean that customers now only need to complete financial questionnaires where their sum assured is over £2m for life cover and £800K for critical illness cover. And supporting financial evidence, such as proof of earnings or company accounts, is now only needed where the sum assured is over £3.5m for life cover and £1.5m for critical illness.
Zurich has also raised the ceiling for the amount of protection people can take out, making it easier to buy insurance at higher values.

As part of its underwriting re-fresh, the insurer has extended the availability of its specialist large case underwriting service to include all applications where customers pay a monthly premium of £250 per month. Previously, large cases were those where the customers’ sum assured was £1m or over.
The benefits of the large case service include individual case management and a dedicated contact when customers are applying, pre-application medicals and faster turnarounds to ensure people are covered quicker.
Commenting on the changes, Nicky Bray, Chief Underwriter for Retail Propositions said: “These enhancements will make applying for protection quicker and simpler, not just for customers but for advisers too. They also mean that more of our customers will be able to benefit from our specialist large case service which benefits from over 30 years’ experience in dealing with higher value cases. “

0 0

Senegalese authorities seem to have embraced the adage that “to govern is to foresee.” In this case, it is for the country to minimize uncertainties in the winter of whatever nature. It must be said that the government has been assisted in its approach by an initiative of the African Union which led to the establishment of the Pan-African Mutual Risk Management (African Risk Capacity – ARC – English), a mechanism better manage crises related to drought and climate disasters.

Senegal has received aid from Japan

In fact, Senegal has completed the payment of the first annual insurance premium. Estimated at 1.8 billion CFA francs, this premium could be mobilized with the assistance of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Ultimately, it will enable Senegal to collect 15 billion CFA francs in drought during 2014. What facilitate range of solutions in case of serious risk of a food crisis, both for men and for livestock will be private and pastures. “This membership is only the physical translation of the option taken by the Senegalese authorities to improve prediction and enhance the effectiveness of emergency response caused by droughts,” said Ryuichi Kato, Resident Representative of JICA . And explain that “the financing of the subscription comes from matching funds accumulated under the implementation of the food security project in Japan for Senegal.” In fact, this fund is also intended to fund innovative and relevant projects for sustainable rural development in Senegal.

0 0

An AXA study of 260 small business owners has revealed that little things really do mean a lot to SME owners when first setting up, with over two in five (41 per cent) admitting they would not have succeeded without the help, advice and support of family and friends.

Each small business entrepreneur receives an average of 574 hours of free support and advice from friends and family in their first year – worth a collective £2billion** and almost a third of the working year***

Two in five SME owners (41 per cent) admit they would not have succeeded without help from family and friends
Administration and IT support top the list of skills offered for free by loved ones
From property advice to PR, friends and family offer an average of 574 hours of free support and advice to each small business owner in the first year – that’s the equivalent of £3,931.48 in paid hours and almost a third of the working year.

Friends provided the equivalent of £2,309.79 in paid hours, 40 per cent more than family members who stumped up £1,621.70 worth of support.

The top ten skills offered by friends and family to SME owners:

Administrative support
IT support
Product or service sampling and feedback
Building and construction work
Purchasing advice
Website creation and design
Selling advice
Marketing/PR/Advertising
Property advice
Professional Financial/Accountancy advice

Putting their entrepreneurial skills into practice, SME owners resourced their business with 41 hours of free administrative support and 36 hours of free IT support from friends and family in the first year of business. They also received advice on more specialist subjects, with an average of 6.5 hours offered on professional legal consultancy and 5.4 hours on free insurance advice.

Monetary contributions from friends and family also play a part in getting a business off the ground, with family members investing nearly £900 in the first 12 months (£871). When it comes to financial support, family is key as friends only account for £100 of financial backing in the first year.

However, the research also highlights the importance of the little, non-commercial things that friends and family do which really mean a lot to budding entrepreneurs, with two in five small business owners (40 per cent) saying they received an average of 60 hours of emotional support and nearly three weeks of free childcare (20 days) from family members in year one.

Family and friends not only lend an ear or a shoulder to lean on, they are also one of the main reasons entrepreneurs decide to set up their business. One in five (21 per cent) cited encouragement from their family and friends as the top motivation to set up on their own, and one in eight (12 per cent) said they were inspired by a change in family requirements.

The little things that friends and family members have done to help start up businesses have not gone unnoticed, with almost one in five SME entrepreneurs (22 per cent) saying that they would take their supporters out for a nice meal to say thank you, and one in 25 (four per cent) even promising to take supporting friends and family members on holiday.

Darrell Sansom, Managing Director, AXA Business Insurance, commented:

“Setting up a business takes a lot of hard work and determination to succeed so little things that friends and family do to help out really mean a lot. It’s great to see SME owners are getting so much support from friends and family and tapping into their skills. When it comes to guidance on more niche areas such as insurance, it’s important that they also seek professional advice to make sure they have the right protection that’s tailored to meet their individual business needs.”