“John Charman is known as a hard taskmaster but that
is a good thing—he creates very well-run companies
based around his deep knowledge of the industry.”
John Charman is a much-respected member of the re/insurance
industry on Bermuda, with a formidable reputation as being a strongwilled
and hard-working executive who accomplishes his goals. He has
four decades of global experience in the insurance industry including
senior underwriting positions since 1975 and a CEO role since 1981.
Charman is currently the executive chairman of the board of directors
of Sompo International Holdings, and CEO of the overseas insurance
and reinsurance business of Sompo Holdings, a role he took up in
Charman had been the CEO and chairman of Endurance Speciality
since 2013; Sompo acquired the business for $6.3 billion in 2017 when
Charman took on his existing responsibilities.
Charman’s career started in Lloyd’s in November 1971 and by 1977 he
had risen to a senior underwriting position within a large Lloyd’s marine
A Hong Kong shipowner, C.H. Tung, occupied him for five years from
1981 before he returned to Lloyd’s to establish Charman Underwriting
Agencies in 1987. He became CEO of Tarquin, the parent company of
the Charman Underwriting Agencies at Lloyd’s, which was sold to ACE
Charman was a deputy chairman of the Council of Lloyd’s and a
member of the Lloyd’s Core Management Group and Lloyd’s Market
Board between 1995 and 1997 during the financial crisis at Lloyd’s that
saw the market undergo a period of significant stress.
Charman is said to have made his fortune during the 1991 Gulf War,
offering war risk insurance on a 24-hour basis.
Charman had a reputation of being a hard taskmaster in London, albeit
one who got results from people who worked under him. In an industry
notorious for its long lunches and lavish entertainment costs, Charman’s
puritanical approach of discouraging his employees from either habit
raised some eyebrows.
Charman sold Tarquin/Charman Underwriting Agencies for £350
million in 1998 to the Bermuda-based ACE International Group,
receiving £70.6 million in ACE shares.
Charman was made CEO at ACE Global Markets (the merger of
Charman Underwriting and assets of ACE), and in January 2001 was
named group president and CEO of Bermuda-based ACE International
Group, but left the company in March 2001.
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and
with rates hardening rapidly, Charman raised around $1.9 billion in
capital and then set up AXIS Capital, a Bermuda-based reinsurance
and insurance business with offices in London, Dublin, Zurich and
That company grew rapidly under his leadership and is now pushing
for a spot as one of the world’s top 10 reinsurers. He left in 2012.
In May 2013 he became CEO and chairman of Endurance Specialty
Holdings, another NYSE-listed, Bermuda-based reinsurance and insurance
business with offices in Bermuda, London, Singapore, Zurich, New York,
and other locations. He is said to have invested more than $30 million of
his private fortune in Endurance at the beginning of his tenure.
His ambition and outspoken views manifested themselves during the
company’s high-profile and ultimately failed attempt to acquire Aspen
in 2014. After many months of battle between Endurance and Aspen’s
management team including several unsolicited offers, he eventually
withdrew. Several years later, Aspen was acquired by private equity
In 2016, Sompo completed its acquisition of Endurance and Charman
has held a senior position at the business since.
In the comments received from readers, Charman seems to be respected
for his fortitude, work ethic and unrelenting ambition—as well as his
knowledge of the industry and willingness to be outspoken on certain
As one executive put it: “John Charman has had a hand in several
formations on Bermuda and also for embedding the roots of several of
the bigger companies here. He is known as a hard taskmaster but that is
a good thing—he creates very well-run companies based around his deep
knowledge of the industry.
“He will say it as it is—a refreshing change in an era of corporate
speak. The industry needs more like him.”
BERMUDA’S RISK TRANSFER HALL OF FAME 23