Marsh U.S. CEO Talks Challenges, Opportunities for Agents & Brokers in 2013

David Bidmead on strategies for maximizing value for clients, living with the “new normal,” and the task of attracting and recruiting the right talent

Q: Where would you say the top opportunities for growth lie for producers in 2013?   

The first opportunity for 2013 I would say lies in analytics. There is a consistent request from our clients to help them make more informed decisions about the structure and cost of their insurance programs. Market size, experience and gut feel are no longer enough to satisfy sophisticated insurance buyers and their quest to validate transactional efficiency.

Clients want access to the right data and analytical tools to be able to benchmark their insurance programs against their peers, to effectively evaluate the trade-offs between retaining and transferring risk, and to optimize their insurance programs. We believe that Marsh’s material investment in the development of a powerful analytics platform is producing significant value-creation opportunities for both our producers and the organization as a whole.

Workers’ Compensation remains a top concern for virtually every employer. Regardless of industry or jurisdiction, Workers’ Comp program costs continue to rise. So a key growth opportunity for Marsh in 2013 will be to help our clients reduce their Workers’ Comp total cost of risk. Our decision to form a Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence provides our producers with a unique value proposition to offer a full range of services to clients and prospects—from pre-loss analytical and advisory services to claims management—that bring together a very powerful, integrated solution for the benefit of our clients.

Another opportunity for growth lies in claims management. Marsh has always maintained that strong, thoughtful claims management is the cornerstone of any client/broker relationship. We continue to attract significant new business as a result of less-than-acceptable claims outcomes between our new clients and their former brokers. We believe that our focus on dedicated, experienced, specialized claims teams will continue to pay significa

nt dividends for us in 2013.

Q: Similarly, what are the biggest challenges ahead for agents & brokers in 2013?

The biggest challenge for Marsh and for the industry, quite frankly, remains in winning the war for talent. My primary responsibility at Marsh is to recruit, develop and retain the most talented risk and insurance professionals in the industry. That requires us to have a dedicated talent-acquisition team and an HR team with the skills to work with colleagues in learning and talent management to put together ongoing professional-development programs that advance the competency and behavior of our colleague base so they find they have clear and meaningful career paths.

Another challenge in 2013 will be maintaining operational excellence. Marsh has enjoyed substantial growth in the U.S. over the last few years. To be able to continue to support that growth we need to identify areas of the business where we can simplify our processes for the benefit of our clients.

Toward that end, we face the challenge of having the right technology to support, simplify and standardize our core processes. I think it’s generally accepted that the insurance industry lags behind banking and finance when it comes to transactional efficiency. As major brokers like Marsh i

ncreasingly see the middle market as an opportunity for quantum growth, we need to honestly challenge the ongoing suitably of legacy IT systems.

Q: What do you think is going to be the single most notable difference in the insurance industry between 2012 and 2013?

I think the insurance industry is a reflection of the world generally. For me, “the new normal”—something that we’ll all need to adjust to—is living in a state of perpetual change where there is no steady state. The insurance industry has historically operated on the perception that the past is a reliable indicator of the future, and yet we have suffered natural catastrophes that are described as “1-in-500-year events” occurring every year at a time when the global economy sits on a knife’s edge and companies around the world are trying to do more with less. In this environment, the ability to lead and successfully manage change is going to become an increasingly notable difference and a competitive differentiator. 


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