Last week I returned to the industry I know.

Of course I never left it, as I still keep in touch with friends and colleagues and enjoy my involvement with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Worshipful Company of Insurers.

However, my appointment as a non-executive director of Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) is the first official role I have taken in the insurance industry since retiring from CGNU.

It is not common for insurance company executives to be recruited by brokers as non-executives. But there is no reason why someone with an insurance background can't make a significant contribution in another field within the industry.

For example, JLT has a considerable involvement in the Asia-Pacific region, where, in fact, I first came across the company as a New Zealand insurance manager.

My 40-year involvement in general insurance and background in the Asia Pacific region, means I can contribute fully on the strategic issues for this dynamic geographical area.

So why JLT?

Well, I knew the company well from my days in Australia and New Zealand and during the last decade in the UK, but, more importantly, I like the business profile. It's not just, what I call commodity broking.

JLT specialises in risk solutions for complex business and has an enviable record in both direct placing and reinsurance. Much of the business undertaken is, therefore, the result of innovative and creative solutions. The company also has a growing pensions administration business.

Another reason?

Well, JLT is a British-owned and operated international broking business and despite my accent, I am a supporter of the British insurance industry which creates employment and wealth, particularly through international earnings.

It is undoubtedly an exciting time to join one of the world's leading brokers.

Hard markets require quality expertise to make a difference for clients who often regard price as the lowest common denominator when the market is soft.

I can see this hard market lasting for three to four years and those predicting a return to a soft market in 12-18 months will be proven wrong.

Remember, there is a very big claim still being estimated and low interest rates mean insurers can't rely on investment returns to restore balance sheets and to produce satisfactory returns on capital.

I'm looking forward to the first board meeting in January and the new challenges the role will bring.