Broker will continue to look for bolt-on acquisitions, says Drummond Brady

JLT is well placed  to cope with chief executive Dominic Burke’s two-month absence from the business, said  Mark Drummond Brady, who will take the helm while Burke is away.

He also said the broking group would continue to pursue acquisitions in 2014.

JLT announced with its 2013 results this morning that Burke would take a “short break” from JLT from the beginning of May to the end of June, leaving Drummond Brady, JLT’s international chairman of risk and insurance in charge.

Speaking to Insurance Times this morning Drummond Brady said himself, the team and the group were well equipped to run the business without Burke.

He said: “I am in my 27th year in JLT. I have stood at Dominic’s right hand for eight years. I know the business as well as anybody and probably better than most and I have been involved in all the key strategies that we have been developing over the last few years.

“I believe I am in a good position to continue to drive our strategy.

“We have a very experienced board who are fully supportive of Dominic’s short break and the arrangements we have put in place in his absence.

“Everybody knows their roles and what is needed. We have got fantastic strength and depth at all levels of management.”

He added that JLT’s strong 2013 results stand it in good stead. The company reported 2013 organic growth of 8.5%, a 13% increase in profit before tax and 11% total revenue growth.

Drummond Brady said: “As you can see from our results we are in good shape. We have continued to trade strongly at the beginning of this year.

If you combine those three factors I feel very confident of my ability to lead this business in May and June in Dominic’s absence.”

Further acquisitions

Commenting on JLT’s strategy for 2014, Drummond Brady said the company would continue to pursue organic growth and acquisitions.

JLT completed a number of acquisitions in 2013. Its largest was Towers Watson’s reinsurance brokerage, which it bought for £177m and rebranded JLT Towers Re.

Drummond Brady said: “We are seeking to continue to carry out bolt-on acquisitions that strengthen our exiting areas or add new areas and new geographies.”

Thistle profit drop

While JLT enjoyed another good year in 2013, its UK managing general agency Thistle suffered a 40% drop in profit to £2.4m in 2013 from £4m in 2012. This was despite a 1.7% increase in revenue to £34.9m (2012: £34.3m).

Group commercial director James Twining said the drop had been caused by the investment JLT had been making in Thistle over the past year under new chief executive Paul Matthews.

Matthews has replaced Thistle’s top team, hiring Towergate’s Rob Styring as financial director and Oval’s Anita Watson as chief operating officer.

The company has also been the most exposed to the UK economic downturn.  

Despite Thistle’s deteriorating performance in 2013, Twining said it had performed well in the circumstances and that the future for the MGA looked brighter.

He said: “This is an important business to us which we are committed to and where we have got a really good senior team in place now. We feel quite positive about Thistle for this year.”

He added: “Thistle has had a very good start to the year, and to the extent that is a barometer for increased UK economic growth then that appears to be quite positive - but clearly it is very early days.”