I didn’t hesitate for a nanosecond when the envelope arrived offering me the job, says John Hurrell, AIRMIC's new CEO

John Hurrell says he was minding his own business in Marsh and considering his options after normal retirement age, having already put a succession plan into place. A colleague told him that AIRMIC was looking for a new CEO. He met the board, and Hurrell found the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. ‘I didn’t hesitate for a nanosecond when the envelope arrived offering me the job,’ he says.

Hurrell’s career in broking encompassed various company acquisitions, so he’d been with Sedgwick which got taken over by Marsh. He had a role dealing very much with AIRMIC member type clients, risk managers and insurance buyers from FTSE250 and, especially, FTSE100 companies.

Perhaps in his young days, Hurrell affected the trappings of a London market broker, but today he is very much a family man with a wife of 37 years, three children, two grandchildren and a love of family type activities, like walking and cycling holidays. He is a Charlton Athletic supporter, a hangover from a time living south of the Thames.

Joining AIRMIC, he has found that the association stands in high regard with the insurance market, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the European Union Competition Commission and he believes it can do more. ‘AIRMIC has an even greater potential as a voice for the industry than it realises.’ He also believes there is work to be done in rekindling a relationship between AIRMIC and the UK government.

“AIRMIC has an even greater potential as a voice for the industry than it realises.

John Hurrell

This role, Hurrell indicates, is likely to be primarily as a body that can speak on behalf of commercial insurance buyers. ‘When it comes to risk management, there are 100 definitions and many different organisations trying to do it, including internal audit, treasury, brokers, the big 4 specialist consultants, insurers, as well as risk managers. This is why we must be very focused on those areas of risk management which are of most practical value and interest to our members,’ he explains.

In Hurrell, AIRMIC has someone who not only knows about insurance but about risk, from his experience of living through three major events which hit Marsh: the terrorist attacks of September 11 when the group lost nearly 300 people, the unexpected public targeting of broker remuneration in general and Marsh in particular by New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer and a campaign against company employees by animal rights activists.

All three were shocks. ‘Even if we had known the broad category, the scale and severity were out of all proportion to anything we would have considered,’ says Hurrell. At the top of the lessons learned, he puts the difficulties of continuing the ordinary management of the business while senior people and resources are diverted to dealing with the catastrophe.

Such crises are rare, but increasing demands are not, and pressures on members are likely to increase with the current uncertainty in the economy.