Middle Market and Brokerage Experience Key to Lloyd's New Hire
By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
The choice of Hank Watkins to lead Lloyd's North American operations, effective Aug. 31, underscores the London-based insurance market's desire to have an aggressive broker with middle-market experience to lead its U.S. operations.
The appointment is a significant one for Lloyd's, which over the past several years has derived more and more revenue from the United States and Canada.
U.S. and Canadian operations, according to the company's 2008 annual report, accounted for 44 percent of total business, up from 39 percent in 2006 and 37 percent in 2005.
Lloyd's offers coverage in the property/casualty, marine, energy, auto and aviation sectors, as well as reinsurance.
Sue Langley, Lloyd's director of market operations and North America, said Watkins' 28 years as an underwriter and broker in the U.S. market means he understands "the opportunities and challenges that the industry faces in today's global marketplace."
QUICK RESULTS NEEDED?
Though prices in the U.S. property/casualty sector are expected to harden over the next few months and into 2010, they appear for the moment to be staying stubbornly soft, in part because of the weak economy.
Like many companies in the insurance sector, which saw profits tumble last year, Lloyd's reported global pretax profits of £1.89 billion in 2008, down from £3.84 billion in 2007.
Watkins has his work cut out for him if he wants to show some quick results, but Lloyd's believes it has found the right man for the job, particularly in the wake of the short-term tenure of his predecessor, LoriAnn Lowery.
Lowery, who was hired in April 2008 from Well Fargo Insurance Services, announced her resignation in July. A Lloyd's spokesman blamed the travel commitments required of the position for her departure.
The largest insurance brokers and carriers have known for years that the middle market is an attractive growth area for them, because the companies operating in that segment are large enough to require the scale and reach that only global brokers and carriers can provide.
Watkins' early years were spent as an underwriter at Chubb & Son, where he was an underwriter for seven years, leaving in 1988 for the brokerage side of the business at Barney & Barney.
Following a year-long stint at Barney, he left in 1989 for Johnson & Higgins as vice president in the international department, and from there on to Marsh, where he stayed from 1994 to 2002 as senior vice president and client executive responsible for developing middle-market clients.
In 2002, he left to become a regional director and vice president of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs, before jumping ship once more in 2007 to Marsh USA as a managing director and leader of middle-market accounts in the New York metropolitan regional.
In 2008, Watkins left to become senior vice president, business development for Preferred Concepts LLC, a company that specializes in providing agents and brokers with quick and efficient access to insurance programs.
Watkins, based in Connecticut, said he is looking forward to the prospect of working with a company with global presence.
"The opportunity to work with experienced, enthusiastic teams on both sides of the Atlantic as we deliver the benefits of Lloyd's Strategic Plan to our North American business partners is one I'm looking forward to," said Watkins, in a statement on the Lloyd's Web site.
Watkins will be responsible for all Lloyd's operations in the United States and Canada. He will also be responsible for the company's offices in Montreal, Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, as well as for offices in Kentucky, Illinois and the Virgin Islands.
August 28, 2009
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