An Insurance Manager is defined in the Financial Services (Investment and Fiduciary Services) Act 1989 as an entity that exercises managerial functions and/or gives, or offers or agrees to give advice in relation to the business of one or more insurer or reinsurer.
There are currently 7 firms licensed as Insurance Managers by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission.
That description all seems rather woolly, so what is an Insurance Manager, and why do we need them?
What does an Insurance Manager do?
The short answer to this one is that he manages insurance companies, but that admits a whole range of interpretations, and in practice a range of different relationships exist between insurers and their managers.
Perhaps a simple definition is that the Insurance Manager, as a third party firm, provides whatever services the insurer, either through lack of scale, lack of opportunity or lack of desire, does not have available through his own staffing structure in Gibraltar. The most obvious and frequent services provided by a manager are usually in the realms of accounting, book-keeping and company secretarial functions, but other services are also often provided – a typical (though not exhaustive) list once the company is up and running would include:
- maintenance of books and records for the company
- production of periodic management accounts and FSC returns
- preparation of annual accounts and FSC returns
- handling payments and receipts (administration of bank accounts)
- handling payroll and other employment issues (tax, social insurance etc.)
- liaison with external auditors
- compliance and risk management (including compliance officer role and monitoring of complaints)
- treasury function including handling investment managers (though no investment advice)
- liaison with FSC on general regulatory matters
- arrangement of Board Meetings, including preparation of Board packs
- preparation and circulation of Board minutes
- input to underwriting decisions (underwriting/claims committees)
- “four eyes” fulfilment
- advice on corporate structuring
- provision of Board directors (internal and external)
- company secretarial function
A company may decide to fulfil some of these functions inhouse with their own staff, so the Insurance Manager’s contract can include selected functions, with a fee structure that reflects the extent of services offered.
Initial set-up and licensing
Usually the Insurance Manager’s first task is to take the shareholders of the new company through the establishment of the company and the process of obtaining its licence from the Financial Services Commission. See here for a typical set-up process. This process would start with initial meetings with the potential shareholders to discuss the business model and the structure of the company, and then progress through the conceptual stages to the licence application and finally the start-up of the business.
Why use an Insurance Manager?
The Insurance Manager will have staff who are expert in the requirements to set-up and run an insurance entity, and who have skillsets to be able to provide the insurer with the necessary functions to help the company to stay within financial, fiscal and regulatory requirements in Gibraltar.
The FSC will often encourage an applicant for an insurance licence to use an Insurance Manager, as the Manager is very familiar with the procedures involved in a licence application, and all have excellent lines of communication with the relevant persons in the FSC. It has been known even for applicants who intend to maintain all corporate functions inhouse to use an Insurance Manager to assist them through the licence application process. After this stage, the company may then dispense with the services of the Manager, use selected elements of the services he offers, or indeed opt for a full service provision.
Quite common in Open Market Insurers is to start with services provided by an Insurance Manager, and then to phase the Manager’s involvement out as the company grows in financial strength and familiarty with Gibraltar’s business environment, enabling them to move toward a self-managed scenario over time. Insurance Managers are very familiar with this approach, and will be happy to discuss the strategy with a client upfront.
What does an Insurance Manager charge?
Obviously the answer is something of a piece of string, but Managers are flexible in matching the fees quoted to the services offered. Usually the basis is a flat fee, based on an estimate of the time involved, but there are various options available, including a fixed fee with an annual review, a min-max arrangement with an adjustment for time cost, or a pure time cost arrangement, depending on what suits both Manager and insurer best. In the early years, emphasis is placed on arriving at a cost within known parameters for the insurer, to enable him to accurately budget.
Horses for Courses
Among the Insurance Managers licensed in Gibraltar are both those belonging to large insurance services groups, and also independent locally-based firms. Which to use will depend on the nature of the insurance operation and its shareholders. Both types bring the benefit of very developed thought leadership in terms of Gibraltar insurers – the large international groups will have the benefits of substantial infrastructure behind them who can provide internally services such as actuarial, enterprise risk management, broad international knowledge, and a very substantial balance sheet which may be of value to some clients. The independents will have the benefit of no predetermined ties with any groups, immediate and direct contact with the ultimate owners of the Manager and no possibility of potential conflicts of interest with global insurance mediation or other firms. Within both groups Managers have tended to specialise in different types of insurance operations, for example Open Market Insurers or Captives, but either will be able to provide expert and efficient advice and services – the choice of Insurance Manager will often come down to the corporate culture of the client and the type of operation envisaged.
The Insurance Manager provides an essential role for new and existing entrants to the Gibraltar insurance market, and can provide a flexible and expert range of services to shareholders wishing to take advantage of the benefits of establishing an insurer in Gibraltar.