Colombia 2017 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to José Miguel González, CEO of JLT Re Colombia & Peru, on staying ahead in the knowledge economy, why it is a buyer's market for insurance, and the global reinsurance sector's commitment to the region.

José Miguel González
José Miguel González has been with JLT Re since 2004. He is currently the CEO of JLT Re in Colombia and Peru. He studied Business Administration at Maryville University.

How do JLT Re's s9trengths fit the needs of the local market?

It is in our DNA to understand our clients and their needs, no matter what. Based on this knowledge, we propose effective solutions and offer our biggest asset—expertise. Years ago, JLT understood how important local markets were; but above all, we knew the importance of understanding different kinds of scenarios and how to offer clients tailor-made solutions to meet them. This is why specialty solutions became our main pillar of action. We are not a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none type of company. Rather, we are specialists in power, oil and gas, financial lines, insurance, property, government, business, marine, and aviation.

Which sectors are particularly interesting for JLT Re going forward?

There is clear growth in the oil and gas sector, which produces 13% of Colombia's GDP. There are also great opportunities in property associated with goods manufacturing. We have captured that space in the past and would like to continue doing so. We have also been more intensively present in the oil and gas sector since my arrival. As a client-first organization, we like to understand clients' needs. Our clients are insurers who are the first channel of distribution for our services. Therefore, we promote ourselves to key insurers in the Colombian market, an approach I introduced to our firm. Global insurance market conditions are also difficult right now; it is a great buyers' market. As an intermediary, if rates come down JLT is also affected. However, it is good for our clients, so all in all we look at it positively. JLT is a powerhouse globally in marine, but in Colombia we only had a small slice of the market share and are trying to expand that. Today, JLT is by far the leading reinsurance broker in the Colombian market.

What is the importance of the Colombian market for the group's regional strategy?

JLT believes that all markets are important, which, with their particularities, advantages, and opportunities, gives us the opportunity to learn, innovate, and offer our best as a company. That is why in 2004 JLT started its operations in Latin America. Prior to that, the company had a small operation in Brazil before deciding to invest in Latin America by acquiring Heath Lambert. JLT initially invested in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico before going elsewhere in Latin America.

Will other foreign players enter the Colombian insurance market?

On a global scale, investors are entering the insurance sector, which means traditional insurers willing to do mergers and acquisitions or private equity funds. In Latin America, a Canadian fund, Fairfax, recently acquired AIG's operations in the region. What is more, Latin American player SURA acquired RSA's operations. There was also the recent merger of Chubb and ACE, which happened on a global scale but had an impact in Latin America. We thus see more capacity entering the Latin American region in the form of new players and dynamics. In the Colombian market, all the major insurers and re-insurers are already present. This gives an idea of the global insurance and reinsurance sector's commitment to Latin America. For JLT, Colombia carries a great deal of weight in terms of the overall revenues the company generates.

What are your priorities for 2017?

Our clients. Servicing our clients is fundamental to the success of this business. A second and equal priority for us is to continue adding value to our entire client approach. The main goal of JLT is always to be far beyond just transactional servicing, but helping clients understand and better map their risks, and bring them new solutions. Therefore, the expansion of the scope of services we provide our clients is one of our priorities. Thirdly, helping our clients maximize their opportunities in the current soft market is important. We want to help them get the best deal from the existing market conditions.