The former CEO of JLT Specialty Asia, Simon Weaver, is joining Miller as Head of Asia, in a move that indicates the way the independent specialist insurance and reinsurance broker plans to service businesses in the region.

The acting head of Asia and a member of Miller’s partnership board, Julian Taylor, says that Weaver’s experience helping JLT build a retail business in Asia will be of great benefit to Miller. “It’s highly relevant to the way we see the reinsurance and wholesale broking function developing, which is going to require greater advisory and analytical skills,” Taylor says. “Generally speaking, what we’re seeing is clients becoming more sophisticated buyers of insurance; they’re more comfortable with risk retentions, and the transactional role that historically a broker like Miller has performed very successfully is developing into a more of an advisory role around risk management.”

Taylor says that Miller has enjoyed strong growth in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years, which he attributes to a “focussed and disciplined approach” to sourcing business. “I describe it as the rifle-gun approach rather than a scatter-gun approach, and that’s because we pick and choose areas where we can add value profitably,” he says. “In Asia, that’s particularly important because there’s no question that there’s a huge number of opportunities, but it’s essential for a business like us to pick the right ones.

“The other thing I would say about our approach to business in Asia is, we’re not looking to own all the distribution. Our model is about working with independent local brokers as we believe that creates a more dynamic process for our clients. It’s a point of differentiation for us.”

Miller has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, and Taylor says both are needed owing to the cities’ importance as insurance centres and also to service the needs of the company’s reinsurance treaty and cedant clients in South-East and North Asia.

Weaver’s move to Miller is seen by Taylor as a reinforcement of Miller’s Asia strategy, which he describes as targeting the key, big-ticket clients in the region and building close strategic relationships with them. “Our plan in Asia is to listen to [clients] and sell them the products that they need,” he says. “Organisations are generally more comfortable with the idea of retaining risk so they need more analytics. That’s an area we’ve invested in – analytical skills – because more sophisticated clients are looking at that kind of support. It’s not a simple process or transferring risk from one party to another any more; they’re doing much more analysis of what risks their organisations are taking on and then what risks they want to transfer.”

Taylor says that despite the fact that Miller is not looking to own its local retail distribution, there is “a blurring in terms of what is provided as a service between the retail side and the wholesale side”. “As wholesalers we have to think more and more like retailers to make ourselves effective,” he says.

Weaver was responsible for developing and launching JLT Asia’s specialty strategy in the region and has worked in Asia since 1996, holding managing director positions in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore. He will start work as Miller’s head of Asia on 1 September.

“Simon joining us will be reinforcing that message around pulling together with one overall Asia strategy,” Taylor says.