Fresh perspectives

Vantage Group drew inspiration for its name from the idea of offering a different perspective on the industry. It also has ambitions to grow in the ILS space, says Chris McKeown, chief executive of reinsurance, ILS and innovation.

“The team at Vantage seeks to add creativity to tech-enabled efficiency and robust analytics.”
Chris McKeown, Vantage Group

When was the company formed, and with how much capital?

Vantage Group Holdings was incorporated in July 2020 and capitalised with just over $1 billion of equity in November 2020. Its wholly-owned Bermuda operating subsidiary, Vantage Risk (Vantage) was registered as a class 4 insurer in October 2020 and capitalised with $700 million from the group.

Who are the main investors?

Global investment firms Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman are the lead private equity investors for Vantage Group. Both firms have deep insurance sector experience with successful track records. Beyond their financial support, their partnership approach and outlook on opportunities in the re/insurance market provide significant value to Vantage.

What was the inspiration for the name?

The Vantage name reflects a unique perspective. Entering the market following a period of capital retraction and during increased economic uncertainty requires seeing and thinking about risk differently. It requires a very broad set of insights.

The team at Vantage has a great depth of experience, and is leveraging technology and innovative ways of thinking and working together with clients, stakeholders, and investors to create more efficient and interesting ways to approach a traditional market.

“Vantage also intends to grow into the insurance-linked securities space.”

Who are the key figures/senior management at this stage?

Greg Hendrick leads Vantage as CEO, bringing more than 30 years of industry experience, including serving as the former CEO of AXA XL. Dinos Iordanou, retired president and CEO of Arch Capital Group, and 40-year industry veteran, serves as non-executive chairman. Their vision of an innovative, tech-enabled insurer built for the future drove the launch of Vantage in 2020.

Early leadership hires in 2020 included me as chief executive of reinsurance, ILS and innovation, Aurora Swithenbank as chief financial officer of Vantage Group and interim chief financial officer of Vantage Risk, and Laurie Orchard as chief operating officer.

I have over 30 years of experience at New Ocean Capital Management, New Castle, CIG Re, ACE Tempest Re and Guy Carpenter. Aurora is a former partner at Goldman Sachs with 25 years of investment banking and ILS experience. Laurie comes with over 20 years of operational leadership at XL Group, RenaissanceRe and Commercial Risk.

Early this year Peta White joined as president of Vantage Risk, bringing a depth of market knowledge and underwriting experience from her 20+ years at Markel and ACE Tempest Re.

What is your initial business plan in terms of target lines of business?

Vantage provides property catastrophe reinsurance, covering predominantly North America, Europe, Japan and Australia, as well as specialty reinsurance across property and casualty classes. These include marine, energy, aviation, crop, workers’ compensation, property per-risk and mortgage.

Vantage also intends to grow into the insurance-linked securities (ILS) space. In December, Vantage launched a collateralised insurer, AdVantage Retro I, to address peak catastrophic risk opportunities, funded by Vantage alongside a strategic investor with a long history in the insurance space.

Vantage intends to launch insurance products in both the Bermuda and North American markets by mid-2021. The insurance business will be more focused on longer tail lines, such as excess casualty, professional lines, healthcare liability and political risk.

Why did you feel now was a good time to launch a new reinsurer?

2020 highlighted how risk is constantly changing and increasing. There is demand for fresh capital, as well as fresh thinking, to support the needs of the global re/insurance market. Now is a good time to enter the market with an unencumbered balance sheet, when existing capacity is shrinking.

The amount of new capital that has entered the market is only a fraction of what has been impacted by all the loss activity from 2017 to 2020. Unencumbered by legacy systems, poor data quality and operational inefficiencies, the team at Vantage seeks to add creativity to tech-enabled efficiency and robust analytics to address its clients’ risks.

“Now is a good time to enter the market with an unencumbered balance sheet.”

Why did you choose Bermuda?

Bermuda holds prominence as a well-regulated international domicile for re/insurance. As a hub of innovation, Bermuda is home to a deep pool of thought-leadership that has driven innovation and evolution of the insurance industry for decades. Vantage leadership looks to contribute to this ongoing success story.

Having access to the skilled and experienced talent Bermuda offers, within the re/insurance market and in the supporting professional services, is another attractive draw.

What has been your experience of Bermuda in terms of ease of forming and doing business?

The incorporations and licensing processes in Bermuda are well established, transparent, and straightforward. The regulatory regime is robust and requires well thought-out business plans and objectives that align with sufficient capital. With all of that in place, the formation of Vantage was very efficient.

Navigating the banking requirements to establish accounts in a short time frame was more challenging, but in general, the professional support and infrastructure in Bermuda has developed well over the years and helps to facilitate ease of doing business.

What are your predictions for reinsurance market conditions in 2021?

We expect the firm rating environment to continue into 2021 and expect further evolution of the types of risk companies seek to protect against. The market also continues to tighten terms and conditions, and provide more clarity of coverage. Communicable disease exclusions are just the latest example of coverage certainty.

What are your medium-term objectives as a business?

In the short term we will be heavily focused on establishing our re/insurance and technology platforms. We will also be focused on creating a new working style that challenges outdated business norms and will adapt to suit the continuously changing global environment.

Looking beyond 2021, the medium-term objectives for Vantage will centre around delivering a profitable book of business with strong potential for growth, while leveraging our technology platform and data analytics to provide better risk insights.

This will help our clients better manage their evolving risk portfolios, and will enable insightful decision-making driven by curiosity, innovation, and market development.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock / Cascade Creatives / OSTILL is Franck Camhi

In association with:

A Bermuda:Re+ILS Special Report