Recently appointed head of Crawford & Company in Asia Chris Panes tells StrategicRISK about his company’s regional expansion plans

Panes, who joined Crawford in 2013 and took on the CEO role in October 2014, has told SR that the claims management firm was targeting opportunities in specialised services, particularly construction, engineering and marine.

“Given the economic expansion in the region with attendant infrastructure projects, this trio of specialisms represents a particularly fertile area for growth,” Panes said.

He also indicated that “a second expansion target will be driven by our third party administration business Broadspire, which we are successfully marketing throughout the region in support of corporate insureds with global programmes as well as captive managers”.

“In the latter two cases, we’re already leveraging our global relationships at a regional and local level,” Panes said.

“For example, our global banking services solution enables local cash flow management for corporate insureds to pay claims and has been a very successful product extension.”

The final element in Crawford’s Asian growth strategy was a general expansion into territories in which it does not have its own operations, Panes said.

“Crawford works with network affiliates in most Asian countries where it doesn’t have a branch presence, but where the right opportunity arises, we’ll certainly investigate opening our own offices,” he said.

People problems

Panes acknowledges that there are some challenges involved in this strategy, mainly centring around human capital issues such as employee recruitment, retention, training and professional development, career progression and succession planning.

“For such a highly skilled and specialised industry, our sector has a constant need to refresh its human resources,” Panes said.

“Thankfully, the Asia region produces many well qualified individuals and also provides a number of exciting expatriate opportunities for professionals working around the world.”

Before joining Crawford, Panes spent more than 20 years at Cunningham Lindsey International and held positions in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. He said his aim now was to “enhance and develop Crawford & Company’s market leading position in Asia”.

“The company now employs over 650 professionals across 12 countries in the region and has built its reputation considerably having supported corporates and insurers during some of the most significant events of recent years,” he said.

“From the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, followed by the Thai floods later that year to the aftermath of Tyhpoon Haiyan in 2013, Crawford adjusters have been on the ground helping to get property and infrastructure back online as soon as possible.”