2003: Father and Son - Oliver Berndt and the Mund & Fester Team
Oliver Bernd, grandson of Dr. Werner Bernd, and son of Michael Bernd, has lead the firm of Mund & Fester since his father’s death on December 31st, 2003. Just as his father was, 30 years before him, he is a stickler for detail and knows the maritime insurance business, with all its intricacies and risks, like the back of his hand. He is truly fascinated by his profession.
He is particularly fascinated by those special commissions that call upon his specialist’s knowledge of international markets, and by the fact that no insurance case is like another, whether it be a transport of diamonds in Amsterdam or a shipment of bananas from Ecuador.
It is a given for him to look to the future with a modern, holistic view of the business world, even as he contemplates, with respect and appreciation, the statues of his predecessors, displayed in the company’s offices at Trostbrücke 1. Under their stony gaze, he goes about his task of calculating and evaluating risk and carrying responsibility.
Looking Ahead: The Necessity of Underwriting
The future looks bright, and this despite the rapid pace of technological change and the ever-increasing pressure on the Transport-Insurance business. The indispensable know-how of the ‘Assecuradeure’ in the maritime-insurance branch makes for a stable foundation for the next generations.
Transport insurance is a necessity. It is so, because the volume of goods transported over land, water and air is enormous and ever-increasing.
The contractual conditions of commercial trade could not exist as such without insurance and, in the no-man’s-land between sender and receiver, risk must be clearly identified and adequately secured; and that, indeed, by someone who understands the risk, and pays out quickly and smoothly when coverage is called for.
Doing Business: Then and Now
Absolute integrity, the predictability of the underwriting, and the ability to assess and regulate damage have made Mund & Fester a preferred service provider, whose advice and service is trusted by over thirty foreign and domestic insurance providers and practically all insurance agents in northern Germany.
Having agency-contracts with over 30 insurance companies allows Mund & Fester to structure and offer tailor-made policies for the insurant. Today, as in the past, the word of the men and women in maritime insurance serves as their bond, no matter if by telephone, or secured with a handshake: An astonishing business practice in our time and an irreplaceable virtue carried through the generations by the ‘Assekuradeure’ and their families.
A Broader View
The challenges of our time, namely sustainability and healthy growth without over-exploitation of the Earth’s resources, are of great importance to Oliver Berndt. He sees the firm of Mund & Fester as part of an organic cooperative, as a constituent element of an economically vital system with national and international responsibility.
This explains a canon of self-imposed rules of conduct, among which are the refusal to insure shipments of arms and live animals, and the adherence to self-evident guidelines regarding environmental protection and human rights.
Berndt’s sensibility to responsible business leadership leads him to see these compliance-guidelines as an ethical and legal compass, which guides all aspects of the daily affairs of business.
His charitable work with the Niederländische Armencasse means more to him than the simple fulfillment of an act of duty. It also spurns him on toward a healthy change of perspective.
A Winning Team
The firm of Mund & Fester with its staff- handpicked by its owner with his knack for finding a “good crew”- is firmly anchored in Hamburg’s maritime insurance landscape where it is considered a fair and reliable partner.
Looking back, with interest and respect, to Mund & Fester’s beginnings in Hamburg 140 years ago is at once both grounding and stimulating.