New horizons in Singapore

Julian Franzman, executive director and head of marine, cargo and stock throughput (Asia Pacific) at Howden, explains how he and his team are building something exciting in Singapore.

What is the history of Howden specialty marine?

We established the marine team in Singapore in October 2019, and it has been an exciting journey. Several of us joined from other brokers, as we saw the opportunity to create something special. It was great to come to a new company and be presented with a clean slate and no pre-existing structures or legacy issues to navigate. It was down to us to build it. We were also drawn by Howden’s independence and its global team and P&L. You only have to be here a short amount of time to see that the entrepreneurial spirit runs throughout the business. Since 2019, we have been able to create a one-stop shop with a multi-marine line offering in Asia Pacific.

How has Howden differentiated itself from competitors in the region?

We have been able to create something special through which we not only cover different lines of marine but also different distributions – retail, wholesale and reinsurance. We are not siloed here, which helps us provide clients with a phenomenal service. We are part of a global team that has 200+ marine specialists and 35 dedicated aviators, all sitting under a logistics division (marine, cargo and aviation). This allows our clients around the world a singular point of access, regardless of where they are. That really is a differentiator.

Why is the Singapore marine (re)insurance market so important?

For Howden, Singapore is our major regional hub. Over the years, many carriers have put their headquarters here and it is a dominant market. The level of expertise here has certainly developed alongside the market, and we are fortunate to have built a diverse skillset in Singapore. This allows for full autonomy to make decisions in-country, which is hugely important. Having decision makers here means we can link up the underwriters, claim departments and clients to instil that transparency of relationship. This creates significant value and shows that an insured is not just a number on a spreadsheet or a name in an email.

How do you view the current state of the marine hull, cargo and liability market in Singapore?

Hull has gone through a process of remediation over the past few years, with various subclasses of marine included to increase rates and make them sustainable. We also saw a fundamental shift in the supply curve, which naturally meant that prices went up. We are now past this, and the availability of capacity is increasing in the region. There has been some remedial work done on cargo as well, which has improved with increased trade since Covid-19. The bounce back has been impressive and there have also been continued rate increases, though this is flattening across the market. T&Cs are also improving in this class of risk. In Singapore, there are not as many runners and riders in the liability space, excluding protection and indemnity cover.