Conference Commentary: How AIG’s Duperreault stole the show with ‘calm, cool, collected confidence’

By Chad Hemenway on April 11, 2018
We knew AIG CEO Brian Duperreault was a “good get” for Advisen’s recent Casualty Insights Conference, though we did not anticipate how forthcoming he’d be.

Thanks go to stalwart advisory board member Tony DeFelice of Aon—with an assist from Joe Rego, president of Aon Bermuda—for spending the time to entice the president and CEO of AIG to sit in front of 400 P&C executives and risk managers  and talk about the casualty business and his philosophies for AIG.

AIG CEO Brian Duperreault

“We thought, with Brian’s recent appointment as AIG CEO, and since AIG is such a large player in the  casualty arena, it would be ideal to get Brian to participate in this event,” said DeFelice, managing director and Casualty Practice leader at Aon. “He is one of the few icons in the industry.”

Icons, however, are not always as approachable as Duperreault. But, within the first month of arriving at AIG, Duperreault found out about and attended a broker leadership meeting at Aon.

“He asked if he could come and speak with us and, of course, we weren’t going to turn him down,” DeFelice said. “We invited him over and he was just so at ease in terms of talking about taking over the role at AIG and, what struck me most, was this is a guy with a stellar career and many accomplishments but he still has this calm, cool and collected confidence about the job at hand. He’s genuine.”

Duperreault’s time on the stage with DeFelice to wrap up our conference in New York on March 29 was altogether laid-back, funny, truthful and informative. This was no prepared speech. It was exactly the type of conversation our Media Events team strives to incubate within our conferences. Company lines, party lines, and corporate correctness can sometimes obscure the path to a more beneficial discussion for the insurance community.

Tony DeFelice, Aon’s managing director and Casualty Practice leader

Yet for whom Duperreault has been in the past and is now in the insurance industry, he was particularly low-maintenance as the “star of the show.” He showed up sans entourage. He didn’t want to know the questions in advance. He and DeFelice simply chatted about an industry and a company for which Duperreault clearly has passion. In fact he said, “I still bleed AIG blue.”

“He is the first real, true Property & Casualty person to take over the helm at AIG since, in essence, Hank Greenberg,” said DeFelice. “I wanted to ask him about this, and he honestly answered.”

Indeed, Duperreault did answer, and likely bolstered opinions he is the right person, at the right time, to lead AIG.

“This business is not like any other business. It’s more like gambling,” Duperreault said. “We’re like professional gamblers. You can’t play every hand. People who don’t know our business come in and make bad decisions because they don’t understand the implications of the risk-taking decisions we make.”

Reading between the lines, it is clear Duperreault’s AIG is not looking to shrink or contract. He wants to write intelligent business. From underwriting profits to Excess & surplus lines, from technology to the role of the incumbent carrier, Duperreault shared his views. Risk managers in the room– along with many of the AIG alums present – were treated to an inside look at one of the largest and most innovative providers of insurance solutions for their respective companies.

The initiatives Duperreault is putting into place at AIG impact brokers like DeFelice, who heard Duperreault’s mission to “grind it out,” and “fix the core” of AIG to “be that go-to company to solve the problems that are emerging.”

Duperreault’s presence should give AIG employees something to cheer about. His hands are steady at the helm so investors should take comfort.

Read more about Duperreault’s remarks at Advisen’s Casualty Conference from Editor Erin Ayers.

Check out photos from the conference.

Chad Hemenway is Managing Editor of Advisen News. He has more than 15 years of journalist experience at a variety of online, daily, and weekly publications. He has covered P&C insurance news since 2007, and he has experience writing about all P&C lines as well as regulation and litigation. Chad won a Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Single Article in 2014 for his coverage of the insurance implications of traumatic brain injuries and Best News Coverage in 2013 for coverage of Superstorm Sandy. Contact Chad at 212.897.4824 or chemenway@advisen.com.