New York-based DeWitt Stern Group Inc. dramatically ramped up the ongoing expansion of its highly regarded entertainment brokerage practice in late April by hiring broker LeConte Moore and four other members of Marsh & McLennan Cos.' entertainment and media group that
Moore headed for 17 years.
DeWitt Stern saw the chance to bring on board one of the top major account brokers in the entertainment field, for both corporate clients and also the accounts of major cultural institutions and organizations.
"We are delighted that LeConte and the four other excellent people have joined us," says DeWitt COO David H. Paige. "This fits with our goal of attracting the best people. Naturally, business follows the best people."
It also fits third-generation, family-owned and full-service DeWitt Stern's keen sense of seizing an opportunity presented by a marked change in the insurance industry.
When Near North Insurance hit troubled waters several years ago, for example, DeWitt Stern took the occasion to hire much of the entertainment-practice staff in Near North's Los Angeles office.
Moore, 48, led Marsh USA's entertainment and media division almost from its inception, previously working for entertainment insurance leader Gene Williams at Chubb.
"Clearly his presence at DeWitt Stern will further enhance their strengths and capabilities in the entertainment market," says Williams, a vice president of Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. and the entertainment practice leader for Chubb worldwide.
Temporarily, at least, the departure of Moore and the four other members of the New York office of Marsh USA's entertainment and media practice has left that office very thinly staffed. Marsh still has a strong presence in Los Angeles, but, as one industry observer noted, "Much of the entertainment industry's content is made in Los Angeles, but the financial decisions, including ones pertaining to insurance, are made in New York."
Meanwhile, DeWitt Stern COO David Paige underscores that bringing top talent on board is only one part--albeit a very important one--of an ambitious effort by the broker to increase its efforts in the fine-arts, entertainment and media realms.
The firm's activity in the arts, entertainment and media realms is led by Jolyon F. Stern, president of the 200-person company. Today, in the entertainment field, DeWitt Stern specializes in brokering coverage for theatrical risks, performing arts venues, film, music and touring, among others. In addition to New York and Los Angeles, the brokerage has offices in New Jersey and Nashville.
Like Jolyon Stern and arts and entertainment brokers Charlie Johnson, Peter Shoemaker and Peter Tempkins at DeWitt Stern, LeConte Moore has created a formidable network of professional relationships in the business.
BUILDING A PRACTICE
In 1986, Marsh CEO Robert Clements saw the need for his firm to have specialized expertise in entertainment and media just as it did in such other fields as oil and gas or aviation.
He chose Moore to jumpstart Marsh's entertainment group, taking on Aon Corp., which had become the dominant player in the field by acquiring the powerful Los Angeles based Albert G. Ruben film specialist firm.
Moore first built Marsh's practice on the East Coast and acquired the R.A. Boyar Agency. Moore and his group soon stepped up the pace, adding such major accounts as Carnegie Hall and other large venues, as well as Time Warner, which was hosting "Seinfeld" TV specials on HBO and pay-per-view heavyweight boxing matches.
He created the benchmark of all signal-interruption coverage for payper- view events in which millions of dollars rode on a clear transmission. This coverage, one of the most unique and tailored of all cancellation coverages, was crafted by Moore and his group in the early
'90s and is still in use today.
When Marsh acquired Johnson & Higgins in the late '90s, Moore was named entertainment and media national practice leader in charge of all client service new business.
Once Moore's group was entrenched on the East Coast, it moved west to take on mighty Aon.
Among other landmark moves, Moore hired the media-liability expert Chad Milton from Media Pro (now media practice leader for Marsh in its Kansas City office). He went on to hire such West Coast entertainment insurance leaders as Scott Brady (now building an entertainment practice at Willis), and Marcia Rutledge and John Hanby from Aon, both of whom currently work in the Los Angeles office of Marsh.
"I believe LeConte and the group of people he has working with him will flourish well at DeWitt Stern," says Martin K. Ridgers, partner and director of underwriting at Entertainment Brokers International. "Historically, much of this business was centered around small companies, based more on personal relationships. The level of service on a production portfolio or a specialized contingency placement can be served by a broker with a specialist knowledge just as well as by a big broker."
a former editor and publisher, is a Risk & Insurance® contributor.
June 1, 2005
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