The Knowledge Broker
By extending its in-house talent and integrating capabilities of partner organisations, RKH Specialty is able to provide an unrivalled insurance offering to businesses, institutions and governmental bodies across the APAC region
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Sam Love
Asia Pacific represents arguably the world’s most vibrant, opportunity-laden insurance market.
Holding the key to the insurance industry’s future according to EY, the region looks set to outperform the rest of the world as it has been doing since the turn of the decade.
For example, between 2012 and 2017 the sector grew by 2.8 percent across Asia Pacific, compared to just 0.6 percent elsewhere, the non-life category expanding by eight percent versus the global 0.9 percent during this five-year period.
For companies operating in this subsector such as Singapore-based RKH Specialty, the backdrop certainly looks exciting.
“APAC is a very diverse region with respects not only to natural peril exposure but also regulatory influence, historical trading culture and relationships and a rapidly growing middle class and domestic industrial activity,” explains Stuart Beatty, CEO of the firm – a speciality lines wholesale and reinsurance broker.
“Capital markets that are focussed on taking risk such as insurance are therefore evolving quickly across all countries within the region and this all needs to be underpinned by the reinsurance markets. The region will continue to grow as a whole economically faster than other regions and the insurance sector will therefore as well.
“There is now significant insurance capital across all classes based in the APAC region that has specifically evolved to service the clients and risks within the region.”
RKH Specialty creates unique risk solutions, programmes and facilities across a wide range of industries and risk classes, working with some of the world’s largest companies, financial institutions and governmental organisations.
Beatty himself has more than 30 years’ experience, joining the profession in 1987 in Australia, a move he admits was more by chance than choice. However, it is fair to suggest that the industry veteran has never looked back, working in the UK, South Africa and now Singapore.
“Insurance is a fantastic industry in respects to having the chance to live and work in many countries,” Beatty says. “Since I joined the industry, I have been involved in international insurance and reinsurance placement and production roles.
“Singapore as a market really started to expand in the early to mid-2000s, and this led to me moving there in 2009 as I had a regional APAC role and the country was becoming a key regional market which has further grown over the last decade.
“RKH has been developing a regionalised strategy over recent years and I was fortunate to be asked by them in early 2018 to help lead the expansion strategy we have in APAC.”
Indeed, central to RKH’s regional rise has been playing to its strengths.
Helping to differentiate the company from other brokers operating across the region, Beatty defines several standout facets across three key areas.
“The first is the fact we are a business in which almost half the shares are held by employees,” he says. “This drives an owner’s mentality and a culture that is 100 percent focussed on results for clients.
“Second, our independence ensures we are never conflicted. We analyse and access the markets that are best for our clients having fully understood their challenges. We use our access to specialist insurance and reinsurance markets and deep industry knowledge to deliver solutions that are relevant, insightful(pragmatic) and optimal.”
Third, according to Beatty, is RKH’s approach to running its business, operating on a product line basis with a global lens, a strategy which enables it to deploy resources seamlessly to where its clients’ interests lie.
Moving with the times
A diverse spectrum of talent is front and centre of why RKH is able to offer the aforementioned points of difference on the regional and global stage.
Described by Beatty as a top priority, the company’s recruitment net is stretched wider than ever before, well beyond people with traditional insurance industry knowhow – actuaries, data scientists, IT specialists, engineers, natural catastrophe analysts and finance experts are just some of the expertise continually sought after.
“As our market profile has grown, we have become an attractive place to join which is very pleasing,” says Beatty.
“The success the company enjoys, as well as a culture that provides scope for individuals to develop their own ideas, are definitely two important factors. As important as salary and employee benefits are, in the end people want support and a real opportunity to succeed. We aim to provide those with real ambition with the platform to succeed in an international setting.”
Beatty cites RKH’s newly established global analytics team as a perfect example of this ethos in action.
Here, the relationship with parent firm Hyperion is crucial, its vast knowledge pool being tapped into to help propel the company to new heights.
“Like many broking analytics teams, ours provides actuarial services, catastrophe modelling, strategic advisory and sector research,” Beatty explains, “but unlike other broking analytics teams, it is underpinned by Hyperion’s unique, proprietary accelerator dataset.
“This allows advisory and analytics practitioners to give our clients better, faster insights across lines of business and regions of the world. The team is part of Hyperion X which is Hyperion’s new and growing data and technology division.
Other Hyperion X offerings include the xTrade Digital Marketplace, the Rethink facility, and RKH’s unique Know How database which clients can use to find new business opportunities they may not have been aware of previously.
“We are creating something truly new and exciting in Hyperion X which, we hope, will disrupt the entire industry in favour of our clients,” adds Beatty, who outlines a 2020 ambition to integrate various broking divisions from around the world to maximise its resource bench strength across all product lines.
This includes integrating with retail broker Howden, a move which the CEO believes will provide yet further strategic advantage in years to come.
“This move is very exciting for RKH and a natural next step for us following on from the success of the first five years of RKH becoming part of Hyperion Group,” Beatty continues.
“Joining forces with Howden will make us a unique proposition for our clients and will help us attract and retain the best talent by cementing our position as the only true alternative to the giant US firms. We will be the leading independent, international specialty broking business and the only broker with an international retail network.”
Million for a Million
As well as looking after RKH Specialty’s own business interests, Beatty also stresses his desire to build up the company’s impact on its surrounding communities.
Such activity is currently being spearheaded through the Million for a Million (M4M) initiative in tandem with Hyperion Group, launched as part of the organisations 25th birthday celebrations. Its objective is to raise $1 million for four selected charity partners – Plastic Oceans, InterEd, Cancer Research and Black Dog – as well as charities chosen directly by employees.
Starting out as a sports-centred activity, where employees aimed to collectively run a million kilometres, M4M has morphed into a more diverse series of challenges, the Asia team already raising more than $75,000 through the likes of marathons, cleaning beaches, crocheting ‘therapeutic octopuses’ for premature babies and volunteering at charities such as Food Angel in Hong Kong.
“From a company perspective, it’s also been fantastic for building rapport and relationships with our colleagues around the world as it’s not often we all work towards a single goal,” Beatty says.
“CSR is definitely something we’re building on for the future – it’s important to everyone from investors to the boardroom to the broking floors. As we’ve grown as a company, we have been able to dedicate more time and resources to projects like M4M as well as collaborating and volunteering with local charities.
“We are also increasing our focus on improving our sustainability and minimising our impact on the environment. This area will be an increased group wide focus of attention and effort.”
The fact 2019 has been an extremely positive one for RKH enables it to invest time and resources into uplifting local communities, the CEO very much eager to extend this work alongside growth in the business over the next year.
Outlining the imperative to continue developing new talent by transitioning knowledge from experienced professionals, Beatty is optimistic the RKH can continue to grow its own cohort of staff in Asia which has doubled over the past three years alone.
Also paying homage to the company’s partners in its ongoing success story, he concludes: “This year has been a great year for RKH, despite very challenging market conditions across all product lines and across all regions. Looking towards 2020, these market conditions won’t be any easier and nonetheless it’s our responsibility to deliver optimal solutions.
“Our carrier partners are crucial in this regard and we are focusing on better aligning their appetites and targets in both product line and geography. In these prevailing market conditions, it’s absolutely necessary to trade smartly.”