Judges award for contribution to industry - Gabriel Bernardino, Eiopa
Think of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (Eiopa) and chances are you will think of Gabriel Bernardino.
The Portuguese actuary has been chair of the organisations since its inception in 2011, having also led its preceding body (Ceiops) since 2009.
In that time, his biggest achievement has been overseeing the introduction of Solvency II across 28 countries. Though well embedded now, there were rocky moments in those post-crisis years when the deadline was delayed and some doubted the regulation would ever be introduced.
If not at the helm, Bernardino was certainly on the bridge of this ship, skilfully helping to steer between competing national interests to craft a piece of maximum harmonising legislation.
"He's a natural diplomat," says one senior leader who worked with him during that time. "I've seen him have some quite vigorous disagreements with people, and then sit down to dinner in the evening with them and chat away quite merrily."
Bernardino also possesses the technical skills of an actuary and the real-world judgement required of an insurance supervisor, which several people commented was an unusual combination in one person.
Others say his biggest achievement has been to push the boundaries of possibility in EU insurance legislation. Thanks to his unwavering ambition and vision, things that were unthinkable in 2011 are business-as-usual now, says one former colleague. No discussion went without comment – he was definitely a chairman with a view, say others.
Another industry figure describes him as "the best lobbyist in town". With the respect he has earned at the Commission, Council and Parliament, he is able to spell out the problems he sees in the insurance industry – and also suggest solutions.
The success to date has emboldened his position. As Solvency II became less of a full-time concern, Bernardino switched his efforts to the conduct risk agenda, attempting to put in place protections for consumers across Europe. It is a subject close to his heart, but not perhaps the obvious target for someone with his technical background.
Dedicated, passionate and highly respected, Bernardino has given Eiopa a profile and credibility, and helped put the insurance sector on the European map. He is a deserving winner of InsuranceERM's judges award for contribution to the industry.