Weaving magic

The art of teamwork

A cross-functional team can make the difference between a humdrum deal and a truly satisfying one. It also provides the credibility that clients seek. And credibility begets trust.

In fall of 2018, a longstanding client approached NewRe about supporting them in a mid-sized acquisition. The project was different from the reinsurance deals that are NewRe’s bread and butter. That made it exciting. And the client was happy to be able to rely on NewRe’s expertise and its financial strength as a Munich Re company.

From the start it was clear to NewRe that the job could only be done by tapping the cross-functional capabilities of two departments to assemble the right mix of skills. NewRe mobilised its Property & Casualty and Capital Partners units to form a team to support the transaction. Marianna  and Anne-Lise, pros who had been previously working together in one team for four years, shared the team lead. They would be able to access the resources of their respective units in turn.

Reinsurance deals typically close in a matter of months. This deal took a year and a half, largely due to various complexities that come with acquisitions. Through all that time, the NewRe team never flagged and never lost sight of the finish line. Success, when it came, was a tribute to what good teamwork can accomplish.

Pooling talent

Both Anne-Lise and Marianna had been with NewRe for over 10 years and had worked in a number of positions. Anne-Lise’s expertise in structuring deals in various countries dovetailed nicely with Marianna’s in-depth knowledge of the client and her experience in specific markets. And because the two sit on the same floor, it was very easy to cooperate together.

They got to work immediately. As early as December, they had produced what they knew was an attractive offer for the client. But then, says Marianna, “We heard nothing back! Except that it was a good proposal.”

The wait for a green light stretched into months, and then a year. Periodically, the client contacted the team through the broker to request more data. Sometimes it was because different business lines had become involved. And that meant enlisting additional specialists from the Property & Casualty and Capital Partners units. “That’s how NewRe works,” says Marianna. “You get support from other people quite fast.”

Staying focused

Marianna and Anne-Lise had in the meanwhile built a very close team. They found that continually double-checking the details of the deal helped to keep it fresh in their minds. So when one of them was on holiday, for example, the other could step in if questions popped up.

By the end of 2019, the client had twice refined their needs, and each time the NewRe team came back with a new offer. Finally, in December 2019, they seemed on the verge of a breakthrough. The latest offer had been well received. During the busy Christmas season, the team focused on securing internal approvals. And then the client went quiet again – for another four months.

The deal had attracted so much attention at NewRe that people were always asking, “Is it really going to happen?”. The team had to absorb the pressure. “You can’t keep going back to the client to check,” says Anne-Lise.

 

“Let’s close it”

In March 2020, COVID-19 sent Switzerland and many other countries into lockdown. The lockdown was just lifting when, one day in May, the broker called Marianna to say, “They have issued an order to sign this deal. Let’s close it.”

It took another couple of weeks to finalize everything. In some ways, this last stage was the most stressful part of all. True to form, the deal team calmly remained fixed on the crucial task of working line by line through all the contract wording, consulting with each other and their colleagues to ensure that it matched the actual offer.

Looking back, both see the deal very much as a “team” story. Not just the teamwork between them, but between the two different units at NewRe. It had been an unusually long journey, but the persistence had been worth it. NewRe had once again proven its skill and agility, and a valued client had taken a major new step. “It’s a great feeling to know that you closed a deal that will really help the client to achieve their goals,” says Marianna

 

Anne-Lise Caillat

Senior Actuary Structuring, Capital Partners

Capital Partners