LBH and ForVision deals underline broker’s focus on regional specialty practices, Asia chief tells StrategicRISK

The chief executive officer of JLT Asia Duncan Howorth (pictured) has told SR that the recent acquisition of independent insurance and employee benefits broker Lambert Brothers Holdings (LBH) is all about enhancing JLT’s specialty strengths.

“It continues our strategy of supplementing our organic growth by selective investments to strengthen and grow our business in Asia,” Howorth told SR earlier today.

“We are careful to select businesses that play to our specialty strengths, and enhance our client service offering. LBH fits firmly within this criteria.”

Howorth cited JLT’s purchase of Taiwanese broker ForVision Risk Services in October 2013 as another example of this strategy. It was carried out to broaden JLT’s capabilities in Taiwan, specifically in the marine, hi-technology and corporate sectors.

Similarly, the acquisition of LBH, which was formerly part of the Heath Lambert Group until it became independent in 2007, adds to JLT Asia’s marine, employee benefits and corporate business capabilities.

As part of the deal, managing director of LBH Mike Haynes joins the board of JLT’s Hong Kong business as deputy chairman. Additionally, the managing director of JLT Hong Kong Nick Cousins heads the combined business, and the LBH teams will integrate with JLT’s existing Hong Kong business operations.

Howorth told SR that corporations were increasingly seeking specialist advice and pan-Asia solutions. “In a market where clients demand value for money and well negotiated insurance coverage and prices, we will continue to build out our specialties to support them,” he said.

“Establishing new regional specialty practices in food and agriculture and communications and technology in the past 12 months are examples of this strategy.”

Howorth said that JLT was strengthening the links between its Hong Kong, China and Taiwan teams to meet the needs of clients that trade across these territories. “In this way we can develop greater China solutions but meet local placement requirements,” he said.

In SR’s recently published Hong Kong Risk Report, Howorth pointed out some particular challenges involved in placing insurance cross border between Hong Kong and China that required clients to take advice from specialist brokers.

“The RMB is not yet freely exchangeable and so payment of premium and claims can be challenging,” he said.

“The China Insurance Regulatory Commission generally requires all policies irrespective of the line of business to be locally admitted. In other words, a policy must be issued in China – and there are a limited number of insurers available to trade within China: PICC, Ping An and CPIC, for example.”