As part of our series of conversations with Aspen’s leaders, we interviewed our Group Chief Financial Officer, Chris Coleman.
Could you please tell us a little about your background and your current role as Aspen?
I joined Aspen in October 2021 so, I have been with the company for just over a year. Prior to Aspen, I was with Third Point Re for a total of eight years and I was Group CFO for the last six years. Prior to that, I was the Bermuda CFO for Alterra until its acquisition by Markel. Alterra was formed from the merger between Harbor Point Limited and Max Capital. I had joined Harbor Point Limited as a start-up with various senior accounting roles. I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of several, interesting situations, from multiple start-ups through to public company exits, one via an IPO and three strategic M&A transactions – all very different situations.
I’ve been in Bermuda now for more than 20 years having moved here for what was supposed to be a one-year assignment in 2001. I started my career in public accounting with Arthur Andersen in Hartford, CT, in 1995.
How does the Finance team work with the other segments, support functions and entities?
Finance plays a critical role in its interactions with all departments. There is a financial implication or consideration in every aspect of our business, and a lot of complexity in our business that we try to distill to clear and concise financial reporting. Extensive reporting requirements are provided regularly throughout the business for the SEC, investors, regulators, rating agencies, tax, and on many different basis – group, legal entity, segment, and branch. Our work is subject to annual audits and is under constant and intense scrutiny.
What part of being Group CFO do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy seeing how the operational aspects of running of a complex business are ultimately reflected in the financial results. Finance is in that unique position to see how every part of the business contributes to our overall financial performance. I have always thought of my role as CFO as being that voice of reason – objective, unemotional – offering a view of our company’s performance based on financial data. Every day is different, and most days present a new challenge and almost never go as I would have planned when I started my day.
What are your key priorities for 2023?
Helping deliver the 2023 business plan. With a lot of the hard work to reposition the company’s underwriting strategy and with market conditions a tailwind, we need actual business performance to line up with our plan as validation of our business strategy. While finance doesn’t have direct influence over the underwriting and investment decisions that will drive our results, we can provide strategic insights and key financial data that can help position the business for success.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities for you and your team over the next 12 months?
Significant opportunity for improvement in how finance provides supports to the business and how we deliver fundamental capabilities around financial reporting. At the same time, we need to be able to provide insights into the business performance to help facilitate strategic discussions.
How would you sum up the culture at Aspen?
Culture and collaboration are at the heart of the work we do every day. We are breaking through the silos and getting everyone to work as One Aspen Team. Aspen is filled with great people who want to do the right thing and really care about their work. People are proud to work at Aspen and are excited about the future.
Any hobbies, sports or volunteer work you would like to share with our readers that you participate outside of Aspen?
Outside of work, I spend a lot of time with my wife and two kids. I have a 16-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son who keep me very busy.
I have always enjoyed playing sports and, while I’ve given up most due to family and work commitments, I still play ball hockey regularly (a sport that’s similar to ice hockey but played on a sport court and running instead of skating on ice). I played for the Bermuda national team from 2003-2017, including captain for the last six years. We played all over Europe and North America for many years, helping to cement my values of teamwork, owning it and being in it together. I also spend my free time in the mountains and enjoy skiing, mountain biking, hiking and fly fishing. I feel that living in Bermuda, with all its water activities like boating and diving, it is the best of both worlds.
On the volunteer side, I am the Chair of Finance Committee and on the Board of Trustees for Saltus Grammar school, a private day school in Bermuda. I am also the Treasurer and a Board Member for the Atlantic Conservation Partnership, an organization that focuses on environmental conservatism, education and research, working closely with the Bermuda Zoological Society.