Mark Wheeler joins Mitch Blaser as co-CEO of Mosaic
What could be better than having a successful veteran of the insurance industry as the chief executive officer for a new global speciality insurance company?
Mosaic Insurance has the answer – two successful insurance industry veterans as co-CEOs.
The Bermuda-based company today announced that Mark Wheeler has joined Mitch Blaser as co-CEO.
They have known one another professionally and as friends for 12 years. And they are confident the successful working relationship they have fostered over the years will be a boon for Mosaic.
Mr Wheeler met Mr Blaser in 2008, when Ironshore purchased Pembroke Management Agency, which was founded by Mr Wheeler. Mr Blaser was a founding executive of Ironshore.
"We've known each other and worked together a long time. We worked hand-in-glove on many projects,“ Mr Wheeler said.
At Ironshore, he and Mr Blaser combined skills and energy to rapidly built-out the company's international footprint.
Mr Wheeler, who was CEO of Ironshore International, told The Royal Gazette: "We took it to 15 countries over a very short time. We spent a lot of time together on the road. We have become personal friends as well.
"Getting involved with Mosaic was an entirely natural progression professionally and personally."
When Liberty Mutual Group acquired Ironshore in 2017, Mr Wheeler held executive roles in global client relationship and international markets for the company.
Mr Blaser said that during the Ironshore years, he and Mr Wheeler had travelled together, including going through Asia three times a year.
He said: "We also worked together on innovative ideas, and that is clearly a natural evolution to the Mosaic model. We think alike and really complement one another."
But what happens if the co-CEOs come up against a hard decision and see things differently. Who gets the final say?
Mr Wheeler said he didn't think they would ever be in that position. He explained: "We are very comfortable. We are entirely aligned on purpose, strategy and culture.
"Working together [for us] is entirely straightforward and entirely natural. We have a great chemistry. Technically, in answer to the question, we would take it to the chairman."
He said there is no intention of ever having to do that.
Mr Blaser said: "That's true. This isn't our first rodeo. There's nothing I can think of that we would not be able to solve between us. In fact, it's a benefit to have someone to bounce things off without having to go to board level for decision-making."
Mr Wheeler is excited to be part of the energy and drive that Mosaic has created, and said it would be his job to serve the team and make sure they have everything they need to progress.
Mr Blaser pointed to his colleague's 30 years of experience in the industry building teams from scratch and showing "tremendous leadership and innovation".
He said Mr Wheeler “brings all that to Mosaic, as well as partnerships he had formed with people from an underwriting standpoint, and clients in terms of their needs”.
Launched in February, Mosaic combines Lloyd’s Syndicate 1609 with a wholly-owned syndicated capital management agency and underwriting hubs in Bermuda, London, the US, and Asia.
The Mosaic team includes some staff with past experience working at Ironshore or Pembroke. That brings benefits, but Mr Wheeler is quick to point out that Mosaic is a new venture, not a repeat of Ironshore.
He said it was less important where the staff came from, and added: “It's all about the people. And trust is an important part of that. We sat back and thought, who are the best individuals for that role? We are going to seek out the best talent globally, and build a culture. For us, it is getting a dynamic team, the best in the industry.”
Mr Blaser said: "We want the right people to fit the right roles in terms of delivering our clients requirements and solutions.
"Yes, it helps when you know somebody, because you know what they can do. But there isn't any set rule about bringing the same people back together."
For many years the insurance and reinsurance industry has strived to bring down expense ratios. Mosaic appears to have an advantage in this endeavour.
Mr Blaser said: "We have always been focused on expense ratios. That's something we did at Ironshore and came up with a new way of processing, in particular.
"What is new for us is taking a 'greenfield site' that has no legacy infrastructure, and leverage today's more modern technologies. You can be agile in terms of moving technologies on and off your platform."
Mosaic is focused on "carefully selected insurance lines with global relevance and growth trends". It has begun underwriting war, terror and political violence coverage, as well as political risk liability, and cybersecurity.
Steep technical barriers to entry in its specialty areas should give it breathing space from potential competitors, but this is unlikely to last as others seek to copy its model. How will Mosaic stay ahead?
Mr Wheeler said: "Imitation is a perennial issue in our industry. To be successful in the insurance industry today you either need to be really, really big and have some of the efficiencies that come from that, or you need to be extremely focused.
"The Mosaic model is all about focus, underwriting expertise and risk selection, and about the technologies to enable those processes."
He added: "We have confidence in the integrity of our position. We are offering capacities and lines that are complex – that is specific volatility characteristics – that are globally relevant and have great potential.
"Part of our differentiation is the lines of business we are in, and the relevancy not just today but in the future, when we expect these lines to have grown."
Mr Blaser said: "Imitation is a form of flattery, it happens in our business all the time. Our model will be replicated by others. But we will be the first ones there, and with the right people doing the right things with technology.
"The difference between the best and the worst is down to execution, and that is usually to do with the people [who are] doing it."
In a statement, Dan Haspel, a managing director at Golden Gate Capital, Mosaic’s anchor investor, welcomed the arrival of Mr Wheeler. He said: “Mark’s industry relationships and deep market knowledge are great assets to Mosaic’s highly specialised business lines.
"We look forward to supporting Mark, Mitch and the rest of Mosaic’s enterprising team as they build a powerful platform to meet complex risks for clients, partners and stakeholders around the world.”