This time in two weeks I will be in Monte Carlo along with another 2500 or so people from the weird and wonderful world of reinsurance.
For those of you not familiar with the annual Rendez-Vous, it is the largest reinsurance conference in the world, a place where the brokers and underwriters do a preliminary dance to decide on reinsurance pricing for the January renewals.
For those of you who have never been to Rendez-vous, it is a conference unlike any other. The hub of the action takes place around Casino Square and in the Cafe de Paris, where men (and a handful of women) in chinos and button-down pastel-coloured shirts meet. Over €10 espressos, there are half hourly meetings where numbers are scribbled down on bits of paper, pushed around, and debated hotly, before everyone gets up on the half hour mark, shakes hands and checks the Blackberry for the name of the person and location of the next half hour meeting. This merry dance goes on from the Sunday 9th of September to Wednesday 9th of September, sometimes even to the Thursday.
Every night there are lavish cocktail parties, champagne flowing with fancy canapés to nibble on, followed by rich dinners and late drinks, followed by even later drinks and sometimes a spot of gambling. Chief Executives can be seen at tables at the two casinos, which seems appropriate, given the nature of the business. At the late night bars, pocket loads of business cards are collected, as people meet and exchange industry gossip and arrange to meet again in Baden Baden in October (or London, Bermuda, Zurich, Dublin or New York).
But this year, will the credit crunch affect the way people spend? According to the Principality of Monaco, only the world-famous Grand Prix brings in more money than the Rendez-Vous. Already parties have been cancelled and few have sprung up to take their place. What do you think? I’ve created a short (only four questions) survey to see what you think of spending at Monte – please take it and I’ll publish the results.