The war is over, e-trading is accepted, says Alex Letts

' It was only five years ago. Fresh faces beaming off the page now have a hint of autumnal decay. Energy and optimism, a whiff of adventure as we marched off to war.

We were going to change the world, the world of reinsurance. Wise heads smiled sadly. The brokers looked the other way, the consultants, those technology weapons dealers, licked their lips.

The notion of a trading exchange for reinsurance was impractible, impossible. EPS and hosts of sibling ghosts stalked the ingénues at every turn. Legacy systems with new layers of gash technology smeared on top. Legacy people. Legacy, legacy.

Inching forward, cowering in the craters while the wailing shells rained down around us, there have been moments of introspection "muttering faces, masked with fear, they leave their trenches, going over the top....oh Jesus, make it stop". And then it did.

Why, and when is not the point. But it stopped. There was no victory, no armistice, self-preservation replaced hostilities. Expediency overcame obstinacy and insouciance. The troops engaged in wary dialogue. The odd Woodbine is exchanged between battle hardened combatants. Survival seems suddenly more desirable than mutual extinction. Electronic trading is allowed a supporting role within the new order.

None of this is to say that there isn't still a long road ahead. Great issues still need resolution. But five years on, there is a sense in the market that the war is over. Optimism has returned. IT

' Alex Letts is chief executive of Ri3k