Welcome to the third in our series of half-yearly observations.
With the summer season well and truly upon us, it’s the time when we sit down to review the first half of the year, give our summary and some key highlights and share some of our experiences, at the same time, trying to look ahead and gaze into the future of what might happen between now and the end of the year – I make no apologies if my crystal ball needs new batteries! One of the satisfying parts of writing REflections is that it gives us a wonderful opportunity to look back on what we’ve achieved. Often, we are so busy and so engrossed in our day-to-day activities that time flies by, blink and we miss it. As REassurance continues to grow and expand, it’s quite rewarding to pause, take a moment and enjoy the successes we’ve had. It is surprising how much you can fit into six months.
Back in January we welcomed Karol Iwanowski into the team with a mandate to expand our tax insurance solutions. This was in response to an increasing number of requests for tax insurance and a desire to offer expertise and really good quality advice in this area. Karol brings a unique skillset as a broker – he’s experienced elements of his career on both sides of the table (as an advisor and as an underwriter) and this gives him a perfect balance to understand client needs and find solutions. The initial response and feedback from our clients has been tremendous and it didn’t take long before Karol issued his first tax policy with REassurance. Karol also took his experience on the road and visited a number of clients and advisors across CEE to a positive response. Tax Insurance has been a great a success for us so far and we anticipate even further growth in this area.
We also strengthened the senior team with the addition of Olga Ziegler to our senior team in an ‘External Counsel’ role. A key driver in the ethos of REassurance has always been delivery, service and value-add. Responding to a large number of new mandates meant we needed to add Olga’s experience and ability to the team in order to keep meeting our services levels. There’s a view that it’s best to strengthen from a position of strength and we did that with Olga, complimenting an already strong team to make our client experience even better.
While the real estate markets continued to be surrounded with an air of uncertainty driven by the ‘perfect storm’ of disruption – war, rising interest rates, inflation and re-adjusting to hybrid working it meant we were unsure what kind of experience we might get at MIPIM in March. A strong turnout and four days of glorious weather in Cannes also made for lots of interesting meetings and discussions. I’ve read many opinions of people’s experiences and many differ, but the experience of the REassurance team was positive – lots of new opportunities, new relationships and friendships formed, old ones maintained as well as a lot of learning. Using our time as effectively as possible meant that we took the opportunity of the slower market to undertake a number of workshops and product trainings. Teaming together with some of the leading insurers on our panel we have been visiting with clients, law firms and advisors to present our educational sessions on leading products – W&I Insurance, Tax Insurance and Title Insurance. A special thanks here to ICEN Risk, Themis Underwriting and DUAL Asset who supported us with some of these programs. Led by Katarzyna Lawinska who enjoys sharing her experiences as a lawyer and broker of these products by adding value and giving training, advice and guidance to help our clients get the best from these products. Kasia helps clients by making it a simpler, easier, smoother process for all parties. The workshops have been very well received and a lot of fun to host! We also took the experience to Hungary and hosted our ‘Insurance Masterclass’ giving support to Charles Cruden in Budapest as well as welcoming many lawyers from numerous firms to attend, ask questions and get involved. If you’d like to see what we can offer, please contact us and we are happy to visit you.
Finally, before we start to look forward to the next six months a few moments of fun and success. A huge achievement and recognition for our work was our nomination as a ‘Rising Star’ at this year’s CEEQA Awards. While we didn’t win (Congratulations Accolade!) it was an honour to be shortlisted and in our short history know that we are doing the right thing and will continue to work hard, we’ll be trying again to win it next year! We ended June with our annual REfreshments event in Budapest, a social evening with friends, clients and colleagues that is always well attended and a wonderful way of saying ‘Thank You’ to those who continue to support us as we grow.
If you follow our LinkedIn page, you’ll know that we recently launched our REnewables line of services. We are really excited to see this taking shape and it’s an area we anticipate more growth as increasingly there is more focus on sustainability. This opens up the REassurance experience to a new sector, and we aim to give the same high-quality service and solutions to clients in the energy sector as we do in real estate and tax. There’s a lot of overlap and we’re already working on a number of renewable transactions and building our experience. We spent a lot of time meeting with leading lawyers in the renewable sector to get an understanding of the risks involved and what is really important to investors in that market, and we are confident we have a solid grasp of the key issues.
Looking forward we always take insights from many of the market reports prepared by the leading advisory agencies. It’s easy to look back and report on the low numbers and worse investment volumes in a decade, but more challenging to predict when we’ll start to see an upturn. Reading on Bloomberg earlier this week, there was a report that suggests it might take another 2-3 quarters to see some normality return. Again, certain sectors will fare better than others and the office market looks to be one that will have further challenges yet. Our view is that CEE moves at different speeds and has so many different dynamics that it’s harder to look at the region as a whole, but easier to look country-by-country. Poland will naturally lead the way and we expect a strong(ish) Q4, we know there are deals out there and headlines will be made, but it is expected to be 2024 before we see real meaningful activity back in the region. That is not stopping us growing, and we hope to add to the senior team later this year with a new senior colleague joining us in Czech Republic to build relationships, support the market and strengthen our business by adding value, experience and expertise to our clients. Watch this space! We look forward to seeing you soon in Prague, Budapest, London, Madrid and later at EXPOReal in Munich and Property Forum in Vienna. Until then, RElax, REfresh, REwind and enjoy the summer.