A happy birthday: Oakeshott Insurance celebrates its 20th anniversary, its Lloyd’s accreditation, and a new book by George Grishin, By James Brewer
A remarkable City marine insurance success story has its origins at the kitchen table of a house in Highgate, north London. Working initially from home, Moscow-born George Grishin so much enjoyed the location of Oakeshott Avenue, part of a residential area a short distance from Hampstead Heath, that he named his insurance company after it.
Oakeshott Insurance Consultants is, two decades later, a familiar force in the market, having this year achieved its ambition of accreditation as a Lloyd’s broker. Business partners, underwriters and marine professionals from the London market and overseas – including countries of the former Soviet Union – gathered at a reception at Trinity House to mark Oakeshott’s 20th anniversary and the Lloyd’s accolade. As Mr Grishin’s two-volume, 950-page book on cargo insurance had just been published, in the Russian language, it was a triple celebration.
Simon Stonehouse of Brit, a leading marine underwriter at Lloyd’s, took to the microphone at the event to recall that he had known Mr Grishin for 25 years, when the two were studying for insurance exams at the City of London Polytechnic, as it was then known. George was in a different league from most of the ‘boys and girls’ who were studying there, said Mr Stonehouse.
The Lloyd’s underwriter said that Mr Grishin’s commitment to the market since arriving in the capital 25 years ago as an employee of the London branch of the former Black Sea & Baltic Insurance Co was underlined by his earlier two ‘phenomenal’ books about marine insurance in the Russian field. Mr Stonehouse warmly commended Mr Grishin’s new, comprehensive overview of cargo insurance, and its regional applications in countries including Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Mr Stonehouse said that Oakeshott’s securing of the Lloyd’s cachet was a fitting award for what the company had done for the London market for the last 20 years.
Mr Grishin revealed that he had spent five years writing and researching his latest publication, which was “our biggest input into Russian insurance, ” he said. The book is “a combination of theory and practice” and is enhanced with photographic illustrations. It includes a long list of organisations that have lent their sponsorship and support to the project.
George Grishin recalled with news images on a screen the international atmosphere of 20 years ago including the military storming of the Russian parliament on the orders of Boris Yeltsin. Mr Grishin scrolled through his personal photos, lingering over one of the street sign for Oakeshott Avenue, an area favoured by company directors and other professionals, and where many Russians came to live after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He referred proudly to his alma mater, Ingosstrakh, and to contacts with Rosgosstrakh and other significant Russian enterprises.
Mr Grishin spoke of his company’s active role in negotiating treaty reinsurance during the annual Baden-Baden Meetings, a key event in the insurance calendar. He stressed the importance to Oakeshott of the Baltic states which have provided respected shipping clientele, and praised the role of Klaipeda on the maritime scene.
Moscow-born Mr Grishin and his family moved residence last year to Denia, between Valencia and Alicante, where they initiated the group’s Spanish-based insurance operations, and have just launched a Russian Association in Spain.
Oakeshott director Barry Pierce recalled joining Oakeshott in 1995 at the same time as Samson Akande (accounts manager and compliance officer) as they opened the current office, in the Minories. George’s enthusiasm and work ethic was unique, said Mr Pierce. Over time offices in Kiev, Amaty and Denia were opened.
Mr Pierce said of his colleague: “He demands hard work and effort – all for the good of the company. Oakeshott has achieved its status not only through education but through team work and a great work ethic.”
Vasilina Bindley of the Russian Insurance Club in London presented Mr Grishin with a model of the Cutty Sark ito honour his contribution to strengthening the club. He had been one of its most loyal supporters, said Ms Bindley. Vyacheslav Chernyakhovsky, head of the insurance commission, the Ukrainian Society of Financial Analysts, presented Mr Grishin with gifts in recognition of his role in advancing the market in Ukraine.
Mr Grishin is a voracious traveller both for business and leisure, and takes an intense interest in the arts and literature. Among other works, he has written two autobiographical miscellanies, chronicling his early life in Russia and his keenness to pioneer aspects of insurance as that country jolted into the fully commercial world in the early 1990s. The books, leavened by his personal brand of humour, lend much insight into the workings of eastern European and London markets.