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Howden hires O’Connor to launch capital advisory unit, HowdenCAP


Howden, the international insurance and reinsurance broker, has announced the launch of a new capital advisory business named HowdenCAP, as well as the hire of KPMG’s Acting CEO Mary O’Connor to run the new unit.

Mary O'Connor, HowdenCAP capital advisoryHowdenCAP will operate at the “convergence of the insurance and capital markets space” Howden explained this morning.

While this doesn’t strictly mean insurance-linked securities (ILS), HowdenCAP will aim to bring a fresh approach to corporate clients and all non-(re)insurance industry clients in the financial services sector, including private equity, banking and asset management.

Alongside the recent news of its acquisition of TigerRisk, Howden is now positioning itself as an insurance and reinsurance broker with broad access to capital markets, as well as the expertise to provide advise and execution assistance to those seeking to tap into capital market investor appetite, for a range of needs including capacity.

HowdenCAP is launched as a new capital, advisory and placement business for financial institutions and corporates, which Howden calls a direct response to its clients’ “needs for increasingly complex insurance and investment solutions to optimise capital and achieve strategic goals.”

“The new proposition will for the first time at scale, blend the skills and experience of those with backgrounds in banking, law and ‘Big-Four’ consultancy with the breadth and depth of insurance specialisms,” Howden explained.

O’Connor has been hired to lead the new capital advisory operation at Howden and the broker wants to deliver a “fresh approach” to capital agnostic advisory and support for client needs.

Before becoming Acting CEO at KPMG, O’Connor was Head of Clients and Markets at the consultancy, having joined KPMG in 2018 as Chief Risk Officer.

O’Connor worked the previous six years at broking group Willis Towers Watson as Head of Client, Industry and Business Development, and Global Head of Financial Institutions.

In her new role, she will report to José Manuel González, CEO, Howden Broking.

Howden’s advisory arm will incorporate its Mergers & Acquisitions practice, which specialises in Warranty & Indemnity insurance, its Global Credit Solutions and Surety practices, and specialists in regulatory capital, risk weighted assets, private equity, insolvency, tax, credit and structured finance, with a goal to create tailored solutions for Financial Institutions and Corporate clients.

HowdenCAP wants to become a next generation consultancy in the insurance and reinsurance space, with one goal being to expand traditional insurance structures.

Alongside TigerRisk Partners, HowdenCAP will add further depth to Howden’s reinsurance advisory business, with additional options for helping clients tap capital markets and financial structures to improve their businesses and risk transfer.

Mary O’Connor commented on the news, “The combination of the opportunity to build a unique business in a critical space for clients, the power of insurance as a part of the solution to complex and emergent problems, and the passion, energy and talent within Howden to actually deliver something that pushes beyond the traditional boundaries of insurance, presented an exciting opportunity I wanted to grasp.

“At a time when the corporate community is facing a unique set of operational, strategic and capital risks, it is absolutely the right moment for a new approach and set of capabilities that will create risk transfer solutions to unlock capital, and by partnering with clients to build resilience and fuel growth.”

José Manuel González, CEO, Howden Broking, added, “It is at our heart to find people who bring different thinking to the table and challenge the way the insurance sector can help clients with long-term capital solutions to address the risks of the future. Mary is a natural leader in this field and we’re confident her cross sector expertise and experience will contribute significantly to the roll out and growth of HowdenCAP and enhance our leadership team. The teams that make up HowdenCAP are already recognised as leading experts in their respective areas and with the talent that will join us to build out the business, we will continue to break new ground.”

David Howden, CEO, Howden Group, also said, “There has never been a more critical moment for us to remain relevant to clients by using the power of insurance to help provide answers to long-term capital risks. The fact that Mary has chosen to come back to insurance speaks loudly to this moment and is an exciting milestone for the industry and an incredibly special moment for all of us at Howden and our evolution. I am excited to see where she can take HowdenCAP in its journey to become a powerhouse of expertise and innovation which is primed to deliver more for clients.”

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