Head of JLT Asia declares intention to focus on some of the biggest issues – and biggest countries – in the region

Duncan Howorth

Talking exclusively to StrategicRISK followingthe release of JLT’s interim half-yearly report, chief executive of JLT Asia Duncan Howorth said the most challenging risks faced by companies in Asia are not necessarily those of the past.

“Emerging themes include intellectual property and data, in a world where data and information is less and less physical, and much more digital,” he said.

“Also, everyone’s quite concerned about the protection of customer data and company intellectual property.”

Healthcare demand

According to the Hong Kong-based broker, whose responsibilities span risk and insurance as well as employee benefits, demand for healthcare benefits is also skyrocketing.

We’re finding more people want to have access to healthcare as an included benefit. But they are mindful of the rising costs’

“We’ve been an employee benefits broker for quite a while, and what we’re finding now is more people want to have access to healthcare as an included benefit,” he said. But they are very mindful of the rising costs of medical services, so our move into healthcare management is to try and help our clients get greater control over providing these healthcare programmes.”

JLT has recently positioned itself as one of the largest providers of healthcare management services in Indonesia, which Howorth said was the fastest growing healthcare market in Asia.

“It could well become one of the largest healthcare markets in Asia,” he added. “With 240 million people, nearly half the population under 29, and high GDP growth, it’s a really interesting country from an economic perspective.”

Newer specialties
Howorth, who was appointed chief executive of JLT Asia at the start of the year, said JLT was working on “developing our resources in one or two newer specialties”. These include the often overlooked but vitally important agricultural sector.

“We’re focusing on food and agriculture and the risks around this, as Asia tries to become a little more self-sufficient,” he said. “We’ll be investing resources in that over the next 12 months.”

Intellectual property risk

Returning to the theme of technology and communication, Howorth pointed out that JLT had set up a dedicated communications, technology and media practice in Asia to tackle intellectual property risk.

“We’re looking more at the strategic risk issues around cloud computing, data protection and data piracy,” he said. “First of all, you have to manage that as an enterprise risk and then you have to decide how insurance can play a part in any sort of risk transfer.”

Top risks
Indeed, JLT Asia’s managing director, strategic risk solutions, Philip Ondaatje, and regional director, Craig Paterson, have predicted that emerging intangible risks such as cyber will develop into top five risks in the near future.

They did so as part of a broker survey that will feature in StrategicRISK’s soon to be published Singapore Risk Report.

Keep an eye out for the report, which will be available on this website soon.