As a Group fiercely protective of its unique culture, multinational insurance specialist, JLT is optimising its MENA operations as part of its current, concerted expansion phase
A Market Leader in Good Practice
Project Manager:Stuart Parker
As one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefit advice, brokerage and associated services; JLT’s 135-country footprint is indicative of a multinational offering driven by a locally-sensitive approach.
In the MENA region, JLT’s first foray into Dubai began in the 2000s, the division subsequently growing to become the territory’s leading speciality business; covering a multitude of sectors including energy, construction, marine and financial lines.
“Our specialist teams focus on those sectors where we have a distinctive level of knowledge and expertise,” adds the Company’s Chief Executive Officer for the MENA region, John O’Flaherty. “Working in partnership with clients to manage the key risks they face, we act as their intermediary with insurers and reinsurers as well as providing related risk management, analytical, advisory and other services.
“Recently, in 2014, partnering with Istithmar World, JLT acquired a stake in Insure Direct (Brokers) LLC, an onshore retail insurance operation in Dubai. This has provided JLT with a comprehensive platform from which to grow its businesses across the region, servicing retail (corporate) and wholesale (insurance and reinsurance companies) clients alike, across a variety of classes of insurance. This acquisition also gave JLT a physical presence in Bahrain.
“Wherever we operate, we have the culture, strategy and commitment to clients that set us apart.”
On a global scale, JLT’s deep expertise and entrepreneurial culture facilitates the insights, creative freedom and tenacity required to go beyond the expected and into the value-add domain. Adopting a ‘Client First’ philosophy as part of its core operating principles, such an approach also manifests in the form of a constant balance between strategic consolidation and proactive expansion; an ethos which brought its services to both global and regional clients in the MENA region to begin with, and one that fulfils the Company’s goal to “deliver a fully-considered service to our clients, driven by our desire to take a holistic view of our clients’ exposures, to deliver comprehensive risk management solutions”.
O’Flaherty continues: “Where we seek to differentiate ourselves is by becoming a trusted advisor to our clients where we become more than simply another broker reflecting prices back to a client.
“We work strenuously to help our clients deal with their challenges in what is a difficult financial climate in the region. We do this for large and small corporate clients alike, often across the region working with our partners, through specifically focused packages that are discussed carefully and agreed with clients. Our goal is to ensure our clients get what they want, with no surprises; or if there are, only on the upside.”
As well as service acumen and continuous improvement, the sheer history and prestige of JLT stands as a differentiator for the Group, its origins going back as far as 1832 before evolving via a merger between Jardine Matheson and Lloyd Thompson in 1997 to form the world-renowned ‘JLT’ that exists today.
Now present in 40 countries - 135 when incorporating its partner presence - and employing more than 10,000 people, JLT’s footprint is unrivalled; and it has a service portfolio befitting of such a market stronghold.
“Through our retail broking platform, JLT covers both the general insurance and employee benefits sectors, offering insurance solutions to meet a broad range of corporate client needs,” James Vincent, JLT’s Chief Operating Officer for the MENA Region explains. “General insurance covers everything from workmen’s compensation, third party liability, buildings and contents, through to more specialised lines such as Strata, directors and officers and drone cover. As part of the General Insurance offering, we also have an enterprise business which covers the needs of the small to medium sized corporate sector and personal insurance for select clients.
“The employee benefits (EB) business in the region covers primarily health and life insurance for corporate clients. The expertise of the EB team tailors insurance company and coverage options specifically to cater for client demands in terms of both comprehensiveness of coverage and price; their goal is to find the best coverage for their clients matching a combination of price, quality and service levels to clients’ requirements.”
Consequently becoming a preferred partner across both these domains in the region, its specialty business arm is every bit as extensive; offering sophisticated specialty products through the peaks and troughs of the commodity price cycle to all aforementioned sectors.
The Group’s international outlook also pays off in areas like this when massive global events such as Expo 2020 and the FIFA World Cup come to town in the years to come.
O’Flaherty notes: “Our energy, renewables and construction businesses [in particular] are closely aligned in the region, working on not only key infrastructure projects but also serving the hydrocarbon sector in particular. In our immediate region, Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have been drivers of some of the key development projects such as Qatar Rail, the creation of new stadiums in Doha and the expansion of South Dubai as the Emirate grows the area including the Maktoum airport, around which Expo will centre.
“A constantly evolving and complex political situation in the region is also driving our credit, political and security risk practice, as clients seek to mitigate both known risk and unforeseen outcomes.”
“We are continuously looking at new requirements for the market, a significant amount of research goes into these products, and we scour JLT’s global presence and product library as a starting point for new product delivery.”
A prime example of this is the still-developing common ownership model for residential properties in Dubai amid new laws and regulations; again showcasing to clients the ability to keep on top of fluctuating or changing trends, and being flexible enough to adapt its service offering when required.
A market leader in good practice
JLT has recently compounded its influence in the region via its takeover of IDB (Insure Direct Brokers), subsequently bringing together its focuses under one roof in the Burj Al Salam, Dubai, while also instilling enhanced collaboration into the business’s mindset when approaching potential client challenges.
“An important part of this move was also to bring the Dubai onshore operation (IDB) onto the JLT Group platform, to leverage the expertise afforded by JLT’s operational and procedural experience,” Vincent says. “This centres on common IT platforms and solutions as well as working towards a common operating model to facilitate operational efficiencies.”
Capital investments and strategic acquisitions are always on the table to ensure the Company’s ongoing operational progression, improved response times, and enhanced service levels. And compounding this notion even further is a team of loyal and innovative employees completely bought in to the JLT culture.
Vincent continues: “We seek to work to the highest global standards, raising levels in the local market. This has been a key aspect of the transition of IDB from a local broker with local operating procedures and standards, to part of a world-class insurance broking group.
“As a Group, we are fiercely protective of our unique culture. JLT is a multinational company with the mindset of a specialist, entrepreneurial business. We attract and retain the best talent by valuing and celebrating their deep expertise; and our clients, colleagues and trading partners want to work with us because of this culture.”
Resultantly thriving as a local business conducting business to international standards, the Emiratisation occurring within the Company in the Middle East is testament to not just its local quality of offering, or its corporate social responsibility adherence; but to an equally stringent commitment to forming a sustainable legacy in the region.
“We think there are some very exciting opportunities across the region, and over the coming years, we envisage our businesses being significantly larger than it is today, with us being known as a local broker with international reach and an international broker with local reach,” O’Flaherty concludes. “Where we differ is that we don’t necessarily seek to be all things to all men; we intend to build the reach but want to remain nimble and flexible enough to retain our entrepreneurial spirit and for our clients to see that in the way we work with them.
“JLT’s regional operations aspire to operate at the global standards set by the Group. This not only applies to our due diligence standards but to the way in which we deal with our clients and the transparency we afford them over the way we conduct our business with them.
“We aim to be a market leader in good practice, ultimately helping to drive the local market to global standards.”