Read more: Brit CEO takes leave of absence, interim CEO announced
The news comes almost two months after Wilson returned to Brit as CEO in September 2022 after a leave of absence to undergo treatment for a rare form of blood cancer. In a Press release, Brit noted that by stepping down as chief executive, he will be able to prioritize his health and spend more time with his family.
Wilson first joined Brit in 1999, becoming group CEO in 2018 and is credited as having been pivotal in creating its inclusive, innovative and underwriting-centric culture – which culminated in the formation of the first algorithmically underwritten syndicate in Lloyd’s, Ki. As a passionate advocate of Lloyd’s, he also served on the board of the LMA from 2011 to 2022.
Thompson, who was appointed interim group CEO during Wilson’s leave of absence, takes the reins once more as a highly experienced leader in the insurance sector who previously served as president & CEO of RSA Canada before joining the Fairfax Group in 2021.
Commenting on his decision to step down as CEO, Wilson said that in his 23 years at Brit, this is one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make.
“No one was more determined than I was to continue as CEO, but it is with huge regret that I have chosen to step down so that I can focus on my family and my health,” he said. “Brit is a truly special company, but what makes it so special are its amazing people. I will miss every one of them.”
Wilson said it is Brit’s team that gives him great confidence in his future and that he is sure its culture will ensure that the company continues to lead the way “in both who we are and what we do.” He added that he is pleased to remain within the Fairfax Group and that while he is stepping away from Brit, he will remain the company’s greatest champion.
Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings, cited Wilson’s role in driving Brit’s reputation for being forward-thinking and inclusive and said he leaves a “lasting legacy of success” across the whole organization.
“He will always be a friend to Brit,” he said, “and I am pleased that we will benefit from his insight as an executive advisory director for Fairfax.”
Watsa added: “Martin is an outstanding insurance leader and demonstrated this when asked by Matthew to step in as interim CEO at such short notice last year, ensuring stability and enabling Brit to maintain its focus. He knows the business, its people and its culture extremely well and this, alongside his leadership skills, means we can deliver both a smooth succession and the right CEO to take Brit forward.”
Thompson also commented on the news and said: “It is an honor to succeed Matthew as CEO. Having spent a year experiencing Brit’s culture and getting to know its talented people, I know what a unique business this is. Matthew’s departure is a sad moment for Brit, but he leaves a business that is in great shape; I am excited about our potential and how much more we have to achieve.”