Ted Belton Recalls Time in Insurance Industry

By Christine Siemiernik, Editor, Canadian InsurancE-NEWS; “reprinted” with permission

After nearly 52 years in the insurance industry, Ted Belton, author of The Belton Report, announced his retirement.

Ted Belton - PhotoBelton, now in his early 70s, started in the insurance industry
rather by accident. “I had decided not to continue on into university and I was sitting at the kitchen table with my parents talking about what I’d like to do – this was in 1949. My mother suggested that I get into insurance or banking,” he recalled. That very night, Belton saw an ad for a mapping clerk position at
Halifax Insurance Co. He took the job, and eventually became the
company’s vice president of marketing.

From there, Belton moved to Safeco where he served as CEO of its
Canadian operation. “I was quite keen on the idea of being able to be the chief executive,” he said.

After a year, he left to become president of IAO, which was being formed out of the ashes of the Canadian Underwriters Association.
“That was a tremendously challenging thing to get involved with,” he

Belton spent 13 years with the Insurance Advisory Organization (IAO)
in what he calls his most challenging and rewarding time in the

Ted Belton’s Experiences in Insurance.

Insurance pundit Ted Belton, who announced he’s retiring and
discontinuing The Belton Report, discussed the ups and downs of his
colourful career in the insurance industry. [Continued from
yesterday’s E-NEWS]

After spending 13 years as president of the Insurers’ Advisory
Organization, Belton left to lead the Canadian Insurance Exchange, a
group that didn’t get off the ground. The steering committee on the
project underestimated its ability to raise capital and the
government decided to cancel funding on the project, Belton said.
“That was very traumatic for me because I thought it was a good idea. All of a sudden, for the first time in my career, I was out of a job,” Belton recalled.

But, that didn’t last long. Belton went into consulting, and joined
Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, and spent six years there before
retiring. Retirement didn’t last either: Belton was wooed by the
Royal Bank to help develop a strategy for getting the bank into the
p&c market. Six years later, Belton retired again, except for
publishing The Belton Report.

Over his five decades long career, Belton said the most changes have
centred around technology: “It’s been the changes that have taken place as the result of advances in information technology. There is
so much more information available now to underwriters and
marketers, and is easily accessible compared with the situation that
existed say 15 or 20 years ago. It’s quite a radical change.”

Ted Belton Recounts Creating The Belton Report.

“One of the things that I did when I became president of the IAO [Insurers’ Advisory Organization] was institute certain management
practices that had not been in place in the past and one of them was
the development of a strategic plan. In the early stages of that
work you do an environmental scan. You look at what’s going on in
the industry, and in society and in the economy that could have an
impact on your operation. You prioritize those things and develop
strategies for dealing with them,” Belton recalled.

One of the poblems the IAO had was forecasting changes in industry
results. “That was back in the 70s and they [markets] were just as volatile then as they are now.”

The IAO had to try to find a way to forecast when cycles were likely
to occur, he said. After discovering that it was indeed possible to
forecast those changes, the IAO began issuing quarterly bulletins in
late 1976 – the early incarnation of today’s The Belton Report.

There were times the report was put on the back burner, but it was
always revived, until it became Belton’s priority some 14 years ago.

Was there ever a time in his 52-year career that Belton considered
leaving the insurance industry behind? Not so, he said.
“I’ve always been happy with the insurance industry. I’ve never been tempted to do anything else. It’s a very challenging thing to be
involved in, and it’s populated by nice people. You don’t find a lot
of skullduggery in the p&c business and I always felt that that was
a very nice characteristic for an industry to have,” he said.