Following the $5.6bn global acquisition of JLT, Douglas Ure explains how Marsh Indonesia will maintain local commitment amidst digital disruption in the...
“Marsh has a global strategy of growing our business, and in doing so we focus on and prioritize our clients and colleagues,” says Douglas Ure, Chief Executive Officer & President Director of Marsh Indonesia. Having been with Marsh for 12 years, Ure is now taking a new step and moving to Jakarta as part of Marsh Indonesia, and for him the most exciting part is the people. “The team we have in Indonesia is fantastic. We have a real client centric attitude,” he enthuses, expressing admiration for the “energy, drive and collaboration across the Indonesia team”.
Having worked with Marsh London, Ure was responsible for one of the risk consulting practices that had him working with clients across the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa. In 2014, Ure relocated to Singapore and has been getting to grips with the Asian market, and he looks forward to continuing his journey across a dynamic continent. “Asia is such a vast, rich culture with huge opportunities for growth. Some clients, organisations and countries are very advanced and sophisticated with regards to insurance and risk, others less so. In North Asia, for example, a lot of the Marsh client base is driven by large manufacturing and technology-based companies with sophisticated risk management needs.” As for Indonesia? “Marsh’s Indonesian business has been in operation for 35 years, and we have a mix of local and international companies that we are privileged to work with, all with bespoke needs and requirements. In my regional Asia role, I had the opportunity to work with some Indonesian clients and visit the country regularly. However, for me living, working and being truly engrossed in the culture will be fantastic. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Indonesia and making a difference to our operation.”
Integrating two industry giants
Since we last spoke to Marsh Indonesia in 2018, the group (Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc) has been involved in a significant global acquisition in the form of insurance and risk management, JLT (Jardine Lloyd Thompson). Having completed the last steps of the US$5.6bn deal, Marsh is now working to integrate the two businesses together. It’s a significant shift, which Marsh has pledged will happen gradually. “A key part of the integration is that it’s really complementary,” says Ure. “Speaking to the Southeast Asia landscape, we see aspects of the Marsh and JLT cultures really complement each other,” he adds, noting the companies share a client-centric approach and commitment to collaboration.
“Obviously there are differences as well, so there’s going to be change for both Marsh and JLT as the two companies come together,” Ure adds. Throughout what is more of a culture integration than a culture shift, Marsh will maintain careful, elegant change management strategies. “Managing that change and transition, collaborating with new colleagues as they integrate has started really well. I am genuinely impressed at how both teams are coming together, sharing ideas and learning from each other.” Ure adds that while this will be a gradual process, some things can be done quickly and these achievements will be celebrated. “With a stronger collection of talent from both organisations, we create a solid team,” he says, adding that the end result will be a “broader and more sophisticated service with an even greater value proposition” to clients.
Following the integration, Ure stresses that Marsh will carry through its “Seven Client Principles and Global Code of Conduct” as it does already in each of its locales. This covers everything from ensuring documentation is compliant to the way clients and colleagues are treated. A global development for the company, the JLT acquisition is one of many that will be enacted locally, in true Marsh style. “We have local talent providing local solutions to our clients. That ultimately means they’re engaging the clients, talking the same language. The local approach is obviously really important. Marsh operates across more than 130 vastly different countries, which requires us to apply a local strategy as well. We take our global strategy, adopt and adapt it to what will work best in Indonesia. We are conscious of the consistency of our service that must be delivered to a client wherever they are in the world,” Ure continues, outlining that training and development needs of staff often vary by location.
Aside from its recent $5.6bn acquisition, Marsh continues to look at investment opportunities closer to home. “We’ve invested quite heavily in technology to support our consumer segment,” says Ure. Marsh’s consumer segment involves working with large clients who have a number of customers or are part of the sharing economy, and the business has worked extensively in Asia to provide technology platforms that enable insurance solutions to be provided to consumers.
With tech-led organisations increasingly prevalent in the region, Marsh Indonesia is not ignoring this key driver of growth. “Technology is critical to running any successful and efficient business,” says Ure, who feels data analytics is increasingly vital for Marsh to make better, more informed decisions both internally and for its clients. “We need to collect data, which could be on losses or claims, or data about insurance premiums and how those costs might be increasing or reducing. It could be beginning to benchmark our clients across a particular industry to give an indication of market prices or buying trends. Having systems that pick that information up and allow colleagues to navigate it and share it with clients around their risk profile is vital.”
To keep up with the blistering pace of advancement in data and digital more widely, collaboration is key and Ure says that rather than being seen as a threat, tech startups should be welcomed with open arms. “We’ve already made a number of partnerships with insurtech companies,” he says, adding that Marsh blends this with internal development too. “We’re investing a lot internally in developing our platforms and support systems. We’ve recruited and built up a team that’s providing technology-based solutions across the company. One example is the growing cyber exposure our clients are facing and how we can support our clients to manage this exposure more effectively. For example, we can profile clients and industries and types of cyber events that could happen, and the likely financial impact to their business. Interestingly, it’s not just from the perspective of internal development that the fourth industrial revolution is opening up new opportunities for Marsh. It’s also worth remembering that new technology means new risk – and this is a growing business segment for Marsh.”
Moving with the times
Going forward, Ure and his team will continue to see every challenge as a new opportunity, especially the integration of JLT. “Continuing business as usual, serving our clients and delivering what our clients expect while that change is happening, will be critical,” Ure comments. Marsh will also continue to invest locally and support clients as they grow. “Going back to the core principles of Marsh, challenging ourselves to develop talent is again an opportunity,” he adds.
Indeed, retaining top talent will be key, driven by Marsh’s commitment to change management and the development of a positive culture. “We like to communicate directly with our teams, sharing information about new initiatives, for example. We also like to give people opportunities for their own training and development. Sometimes that can be professional training and other times it can be opportunities for our colleagues to give something back to the community through rewarding volunteering initiatives.”
In terms of investment and growth, Ure comes back to the exciting prospect of a new region. “In Indonesia, we want to take some of the investment we’ve made and deploy it here locally. That’s a work in progress for us: with more than 260mn people live in this country so it’s a huge consumer base.” Indeed, Indonesia itself is heavily investing in its own development with ongoing infrastructure projects, which all adds opportunity from Ure’s perspective. In addition, as the country continues to attract investment from further afield, Marsh will be there with those companies every step of the way. “We also recruit people into the Indonesian local market that have to service Japanese and Chinese clients that are investing into Indonesia. We employ Japanese and Chinese locals alongside an Indonesian workforce to work directly with those clients that are investing here,” Ure explains. “That’s where Marsh really stands out and is committed to the consistent service delivery in providing a higher quality of service. Although, organisations might be headquartered somewhere else in the world, we can give them the confidence and comfort of receiving an established, consistent standard and high quality people in New York, Paris, Jakarta or wherever they are in the world.”