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JLT duo depart after aviation expansion

Senior aviation brokers Jim Joannou and Richard Draper have left Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) in what may be the first sign of the UK broker easing up on its big aviation push.

The departures come as market insiders continue to mull how quickly JLT will obtain a return on its ambitious investment in the sector, which has seen it recruit more than 20 producers and executives from rivals such as Aon.

Draper is a general aviation broker, with a regional specialism in Latin America. Joannou focuses on North American business. It is unclear where either of them are going. Both men have been brokering aviation in the London market for a number of years and are respected operators.

JLT has set itself the target of "becom[ing] the leading aviation insurance broker by any measure". In 2009 JLT declared its intent by luring Aon Ltd deputy chairman Jonathan Palmer-Brown. Palmer-Brown, an aviation specialist, has since moved to head up JLT's London market specialty business.

In the following weeks and months JLT signed up more than a dozen ex-Aon brokers. These included former team leaders Bill Smith and Steve Turner, Asian regional director Martin Trumper, client executive John Cruse and claims executive Alan May. It has since continued to pump money into its aerospace operation, hiring Marsh brokers Paul Waring and Lee Turner, both Far Eastern specialists, from under the nose of Lockton.

In September last year JLT said that it had increased its aviation headcount by 40 percent since 2009. However, the company's grand aviation strategy has come at a cost.

It is understood that JLT was forced to pay more than £4mn to settle the poaching dispute with Aon over Palmer-Brown's exit. And this comes on top of handsome remuneration for the talent it has parachuted in, despite the typically slow feed-through for this type of investment in the broking sector. In addition, The Insurance Insider understands that although JLT has had success in winning new contracts, it has had to do so in a brutally competitive environment.

JLT insisted during an analyst presentation in September last year that its aviation strategy was working. "We are on track to meet our objective," said Alan Griffin, chairman and CEO of JLT Re.

The broker told analysts that its market share at the beginning of 2009 was below 15 percent - a figure that had grown to more than 20 percent by September 2010. According to the company's 2010 results presentation, the aviation division had revenues of £23.4mn.

Separately, JLT Re's chief operating officer Keith Fenwick left the firm in March.

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