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As the sun set and the air cooled after another gloriously sunny (although rather hot and humid) day at this year’s Rendezvous – at which some serious business discussions mixed with the lighter undertones of social networking had been concluded for the day - the evening began.

In traditional style, the annual AirSP Dinner followed the Principality Cocktail Party. The Quai des Artistes Restaurant, as always, not only lived up to, but surpassed expectations. Members and their guests were treated to fine cuisine, impeccable service and, of course, a glass or two!

The Dinner was again well attended, the company excellent and the atmosphere convivial. A very good time was had by all.

Tracy Bailey



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On a warm summer’s evening at The Broker in Leadenhall Market, members and their guests were instructed in the mysteries of the sommelier. "Smell the fragrance of the wine and ask yourself what type of minerals it reminds you of", he said. The wine reminded him of the first drops of rain on hot, dusty earth. Hmmm, possibly.

"Then", he said, "smell again. Ask yourself what type of vegetable it reminds you of". Easy, grilled mushrooms. "Then", he said, "ask yourself what event it reminds you of". He was relaxing now.  He gave the example of his granny’s slippers.  I took a whiff and had it straight away: servicing the lawnmower.

Best of all, though, was the test for acidity. Take a mouthful of the stuff and, without swallowing, breathe in through the mouth. This was best not attempted in a white shirt. On this basis, all the wines tasted pretty acidic.

But, of course our convivial host, Luis Lucas of the Portuguese Wine Society, could afford to be frivolous. The wines he produced were structured, full of flavour and beautifully made, produced by the best vineyards in Portugal. The wines would grace, and be a point of interest on, any dinner table. Assisted by the Broker’s marvellous selection of canapés and then superb Paella, we became enthusiastic supporters of the Portuguese wine industry.

The wines were tasted in order of latitude, starting in the north of the country and working south, as follows.

Alvarinho (Vino verde)

Caladessa Decalada (white)

Muralhas de Monçao (rose)

St Joao (sparking rose)

St Joao (sparking red)

Caladessa (powerful red 14.5%)

Luis’s contact details appear below. Ask for the Association’s usual 10% discount on a case.

Luis Lucas, Portuguese Wine Evangelist, The Portuguese Wine Club

+44 (0) 7778118321 - - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Personal Marketing Presentation - 17 May 2016

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Patrick Palmer, the Head of Marketing & Communications at Barbican Insurance, spoke to Members on 17 May about personal marketing. Patrick was one of the inaugural members of Barbican in November 2007, having spent the previous six years working in the insurance media. He is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He also holds a Diploma in Professional Marketing.

Speaking from his personal knowledge of how to sell, both generally and specifically, in the insurance market, Patrick gave Members a fascinating and intensely practical talk on how to raise one’s profile and actually get people’s attention, coupled with what is in many ways the more difficult job of persuading them to move from interest to giving business. That fundamental step change in the relationship takes patience, persistence, personability and a USP. The insurance market is full of experienced buyers of services, who have their own networks. One needs not just to have a good story, but tell it well and make clear its relevance and advantages to the prospective purchaser.

All Members went away with what they hope is just that little bit of an extra "edge" which will help them close that next deal.

AGM and Dinner - 7 April 2016

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AirSP held its AGM and Dinner in the congenial surroundings of the Rocket City Restaurant. The meeting was a reflection of a successful year in which the Association has grown to 30 Members, with others having indicated their interest in joining. We are particularly pleased to announce that Bill Perry was unanimously re-elected as Chairman and the Members of the Association are extremely pleased with the work that Bill and the Board Members have done over the last year. Members of the Board that were re-elected were Tracy Bailey (Secretary), Ashley Prager (Treasurer), Charles Catt, Elaine Mason, Andres Bachofner, Gerard Dupré, John O’Neil and David Brackenbury. The Board are looking forward to future growth in the Association and are delighted that AirSP has gone from strength to strength over the last year and is attracting interest from prospective Members, as well as senior figures within the Insurance and Reinsurance industry.

The AGM was followed by an excellent and very well attended dinner. About 20 Members and their guests attended, and our guest of honour, Nicola Burdett, Company Secretary and Compliance Officer at Houlder Insurance Services Ltd put the cap on a very successful evening with an exposition of her views on the Reinsurance industry in London, as well as overseas, and its relationship to the services that are required in risk management, placing business and negotiating claims.

Members and their guests seemed to be having an excellent time. In some of the darker and quieter corners of the room, it also seemed that items of business were being transacted!

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Elena Bredikhina (CEO, Challenge Group) was our star turn to celebrate our meeting on International Women’s Day on 8 March. Tracing the origin of this special day back to 1909, she talked about the landmarks of the empowerment of women since then, of course with particular reference to the insurance market, and London in particular. Inevitably, therefore, she mentioned Inga Beale, the first woman CEO of Lloyd’s – and it was therefore a particular pleasure that Inga was actually at the event. Amongst a large (very much standing room only) audience, we also counted Karen Graves (the COO of SCOR) and Judith Pleasance (the Common Councilman for Langbourn Ward in the City).

This was a vibrant, packed and interesting meeting. All credit to Elena for delivering a talk in her second language, especially on such a relevant subject on that day!

This is a great launching pad for our AGM, which will be at 5.00pm on Thursday 7 April 2016 in The Pink Room at the Rocket City Restaurant, 6 Adams Court, London, EC2N 1DX.

 I look forward to seeing all members, both at the AGM and at the Dinner afterwards.




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The Board of AirSP were pleased to welcome Charles Catt, a member of the association to deliver a fascinating insight into the growth and potential of the insurance market (both Sharia compliant and traditional insurance and reinsurance products) in the North African and Middle Eastern region.

Elaine Mason, an AirSP Board Member, of Belvedere Mead ( makes the following comments:

Charles presented a very interesting talk which, for those present, gave a very good introduction to the insurance world in the Middle East and North Africa region. The following comments highlight some of the areas Charles discussed that I found most interesting.

Defining which countries are included in a MENA region is a matter of debate with different commentators including certain countries whilst others excluding them makes managing the opportunities interesting. Sharia law which can change from area to area as it is dependant on the local Islam clerics ruling on what is or what is not compliant is another factor that can make companies who are looking to expand nervous. London has so far not yet fully targeted the market, whilst the European insurers are leading the way. A member of the audience felt this may be because of old colonial ties - eg Morocco and France.

Demand and need for insurance also varies considerably across the different countries and is very much linked to whether the economy in the country is oil based or not. Whilst populations on MENA and the US are similar, the spend on insurance products in MENA is a small proportion of that spent in the US. The populations of the richer countries within MENA simply see no need to purchase, as the ruling government/family wealth will cover any problems, although in certain areas as individual wealth grows this may change.

There are about 500 insurance carriers in the region and 25 or so reinsurers. Most insurance companies are, like a lot of organisations, family based and the profit model is more based on a commission model with very low retentions as most business is reinsured out and therefore there may not be much attention paid to maintaining a profitable risk portfolio.

Political instability in places such as Egypt are a big factor, but this is less so in places such as Qatar or UAE. Charles also recounted some of his experiences of the region including trying to put together an insurance product to cover thoroughbred camels, along the lines of a bloodstock product. As anyone from the region would know camel racing is a big sport!



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David Mellor (yes he has heard all jokes about wearing Chelsea kit, and more!) has a card which after his name simply says ‘Mentoring’. And he is a consultant who does exactly what it says – when he is not writing books about, lecturing about it and living it.

Having been a banker advising businesses, he liberated himself and decided to give that advice on his own behalf. As he says himself, he timed the move immaculately – just as the markets fell off a cliff nearly a decade ago now! But his own small business came through and has been helping others ever since.

His expertise is in helping one man bands and very small businesses to expand and to manage and benefit from that expansion. How to keep up cash-flow and client contact while learning how to delegate and devolve. How to retain all the advantages of being one’s own boss while bringing in others and benefiting from their contacts, knowledge and skills. How to keep flexible while using systems with colleagues.

In other words, how to grow while retaining the fun and excitement – and profitability - of one business.

He gave invaluable insights, while remaining (as one’s business should) warm, open, engaging and fun to be with. We all had an enjoyable, as well as a useful evening.

Christmas Party - December 2015

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AirSP members and their guests filled the bar of The Lloyd’s Club on the evening of Thursday 17 December 2015 for a great end of year party. Costing nothing financially to members, who have supported AirSP so well during the year, they endured a short speech by the Chairman, thanking them for that support, and looking forward to the great programme which AirSP plans for 2016.

AirSP intends to continue in 2016 its monthly programme of meetings. These will cover wide ranging topics of interest to all members, ranging from top management tips in January and marketing in May, through regulatory issues courtesy of the FCA, women’s issues in insurance markets, geographical developments in important parts of the world for insurance and so on. On a lighter note, besides repeating our annual and ever popular Monte Carlo Dinner, we also intend to repeat the very well received Quiz Night. Most importantly, we plan to have another great Christmas Party on 15 December 2016! For the full calendar of planned events, see below.

2015 was a good year for AirSP. We think our members had great fun, good networking value, good information on latest marketing developments of all sorts of types, and the opportunity to meet new people: our membership is expanding (and has already expanded further in 2016).

Many thanks to everybody who has made the year a great success and who made the Christmas Party a great success. I wish all members and their friends a happy and prosperous 2016, and look forward to enjoying AirSP’s varied and interesting 2016 events with you all.

Bill Perry


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Mairi Mallon is the acknowledged prophet of the use of social media in the context of insurance and its marketing. AirSP was delighted when she came to talk to us about this.

Social media epitomise the fast-changing world in which we live. Not only does what appears on them change with (sometimes startling) rapidity, but the social media in use can also change with almost equal rapidity. Twitter did not even exist 10 years ago. In 2015 it had 500 million users. Even Facebook is only 12 years old, founded in 2004; yet by 2011 it recorded 1 trillion page views per month and by January 2014 1.23 billion users were active monthly, of whom over 1 billion accessed it using a mobile device.

These statistics alone are enough to show that use of social media must be essential to market a business. One has to use it; and keep up with the changes in the way one’s potential and actual clients expect to interact on it and see their suppliers appear on it. The speed involved makes this a quite different field from good old print or even TV.

Mairi has great experience in this field. Informally and humorously she illustrated the opportunities and pitfalls. She also passed on many useful tips about how to use social media to keep clients and potential clients aware, engaged, up to date – and hence happy with the service they were getting and those supplying it. And then went away to tweet about it all – as all her audience should have done!

Charity Quiz Night - 2 November 2015

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Good company, good wine and good knowledge, that is all you need to make the AirSP’s Annual Quiz Night a success, and this year did not disappoint.

With close to 100 guests and 17 teams packed with solicitors, engineers, accountants and consultants, all competing to be crowned the AirSP’s Quiz Masters 2015, it doesn’t take a genius to visualise just how much rivalry and competitive spirit filled the alcoves of our fantastic venue, The Habit, Crutched Friars. 

Furthermore, we are delighted to have raised over £775.00 in support of our chosen charity; Blind Veterans UK. The only UK wide charity that exists solely to support the UK’s blind ex-Servicemen and women, they provide lifelong practical and emotional support to Armed Forces and National Service veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. This year they celebrate their Centenary Anniversary and we are delighted to have been involved in helping them continue with their great work for the next 100 years!

Congratulations to the winning team, “The Lost Clause”, and thank you to everyone who came along to compete and whom donated to a very worthy cause. We look forward to next year!

Ellen Rawlinson, at BVUK, told us “Without kind donations such as this, we simply wouldn’t be able to continue with our work and provide the vital support, training and rehabilitation to all ex-Servicemen and women that come to us for help. The support from AirSP and all those who participated in the Quiz are enabling us to fulfil our mission of ensuring that no one has to battle sight loss alone.

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