A wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), a global professional services firm boasting a revenue of 13 billion US dollars annually and 60 000 employees worldwide, Marsh is joined with sister companies Guy Carpenter, a risk and reinsurance service provider, Mercer, a consultancy firm specialising in human resource services and the management consultancy firm Oliver Wyman.
“The spirit of innovation is firmly entrenched in our DNA. Marsh has pioneered a great number of concepts including the birth of insurance broking in the 19th century. Our greatest assets in our business, however, are our client relationships, which have been built around our clients’ needs,” says Jurie Erwee, CEO of Marsh Africa.
Marsh’s founding members were instrumental in terms of introducing the insurance broking concept in 1871, differentiating themselves by offering their clients a broker who would act on their behalf.
“A huge benefit to insurance broking is the advisory role we play in selecting or even creating a product to suit the specific needs of a client and we pride ourselves on the advice that we provide. Marsh’s global footprint has taken over 25 years to build and allows us to service clients locally around the globe. People don’t often care if you’re the biggest, it’s always about the service you provide,” says Marsh SA’s Managing Director|Risk Management, Spiros Fatouros.
Marsh specialises in a wide variety of industries, offering their knowledge and expertise to clients in mining, hospitality, food and beverage, education and construction spheres. Their products and services are tailored to their clients and range from traditional insurance including the cover of property and assets, business interruption, general and product liability, directors and officers and commercial crime insurance, as well as the more specific products like cyber insurance, and cover for mergers and acquisitions, trade credit and political risk.
“We offer our clients the opportunity to work with a niche broker in each of these industries, linking them to global practices and picking up crucial trends in other countries, carefully following significant changes that we can then feed back to our clients. The real benefit of working with Marsh is the tailored local delivery that is leveraged off a global network of experts. In a South African context, we also work alongside Mercer in areas that include employee health and wellbeing, employee benefits and human capital,” says Fatouros.
Marsh Africa also offers one of the largest risk consulting divisions, with an excess of 120 experts who service the African continent, tasked with helping clients understand their risks—physical, financial and strategic.
“This assists us in providing our clients with a completely holistic offering. We are quite proud of that and I believe that this is one of many aspects that set us apart from our competitors,” Erwee says.
Greatly enhancing their African footprint, Marsh Africa acquired Alexander Forbes Risk Services in 2012, a move that not only cemented Marsh as a leader in risk management across the continent but also significantly extended their expertise and service offering.
“Following the acquisition of Alexander Forbes in 2012, we have moved quickly to integrate the businesses and position ourselves as leading players on the continent. Sometimes when you put different cultures together, things go horribly wrong but we have succeeded in quickly focussing on both our clients and the combined leveraging ability of the two businesses.
“If we look back at our journey, we have made pleasing progress with our broad based transformation imperatives in the SA business. With the support of our BEE shareholders, Kapela Investments and Parmtro, we are now one of the most transformed broking houses in SA,” Erwee says.
Now a level 2 BBEEE contributor, Marsh has ensured their transformation policies extend to the entire company, starting with the board and spreading right through the business to ensure good progress in all areas of the company.
Further highlighting their commitment and focus on making a difference in communities, their CSI initiatives place a strong emphasis on education. Their mainstream project, Adopt a School, has enjoyed a high level of success, improving the standards of education in four adopted schools across South Africa.
Their integrated enrichment programme for schools assists in bringing parents and scholars together in an effort to improve learning. So far, one of the outcomes of working so closely with the schools is that Marsh has been able to bring some of those scholars into their own programmes for development and training, or guiding them to further their education.
“Underpinning all of our programmes is the fact that our colleagues are intimately involved in making a difference. We are not just throwing money at the schools but really getting involved. Our CSI programmes talk to the heart of our business, where we are involved in communities and continue to make investments through both the good times and the bad,” Erwee says.
Looking ahead, Erwee and Fatouros are optimistic about the opportunities they see presenting themselves in the future.
“Given the reality of low economic growth in South Africa and the concerns around political stability, this will make for challenging trading conditions in the industry in general, but I believe that things could change very quickly and the future here is bright.
“Africa offers a lot of promise long term and we are here to continue to invest. We will see a return on those investments as long as we continue to work through the challenges we face as a country and business collectively,” Erwee says.
Cyber, environmental and geopolitical risks will become more prevalent and Erwee believes that when these risks emerge, Marsh will be better positioned than most to respond to their clients’ needs.
“In a fast-changing world, the industry will continue to evolve rapidly. There is a real trend towards a demand-based economy rather than one of ownership.
“Ecosystems are changing and disruptors like Uber and Airbnb are changing the way consumers behave, which will no doubt have an impact on their insurance needs,” says Fatouros.
Erwee believes that there is also an opportunity to work with data analytics in order to leverage data to help clients make better decisions, as well as further differentiate their offering.
“We believe that it’s important for us to expand and diversify our current distribution channels. The rapidly changing risk landscape, including the emergence of alternative risk capital providers, demand of us to continue to diversifying our distribution channels and expand our service offering to clients.
“With our depth of resources and global knowledge, Marsh is well-positioned to steer our clients through the upcoming challenges,” he concludes