Two years on from Crawford & Company’s majority share acquisition of specialist energy adjusters Lloyd Warwick lnternational, the company is going from strength to strength.
“The partnership with Crawford & Company has been hugely successful,” says Joe McMahon, chief executive officer of LWl. “Our unique business model relies on providing a personal touch delivered by individually appointed, highly experienced specialists. Since 2013 we have been able to maintain and grow this service significantly with the support and networks of Crawford behind us.”
Now firmly established, the multi-disciplined business—which focuses specifically on onshore and offshore energy, marine, ports and terminals, power generation, mining, renewables, special risks and forensic accounting services—is able to utilize the Crawford global network of more than 700 locations in 70-plus countries to expand further around the world, with specific plans in place now for new offices.
The LWI acquisition was driven by several management members who saw the opportunity to align LWI’s highly regarded brand with its growing capability in global energy markets. “This acquisition increased our ability to handle offshore claims,” said Mike Reeves, executive vice president of Global Technical Services. “It reiterated our focus on offering market leading expertise in specialist and technical services, and was precisely in line with our growth initiatives for our Global Technical Services business.”
Crawford Global Technical Services® (GTS®) is the company’s global solution for large, complex and specialty claims. As part of its growth strategy, in 2014 Crawford merged its Specialty Markets and Global Technical Services units into an expanded GTS division to meet the specialized claims needs of clients worldwide. Specialty Markets was comprised of a group of services focused on serving Lloyd’s of London and the international adjusting market. It offered services in the industry sectors of energy, marine, aviation, mining and also included forensic accounting services. With its acquisition by Crawford, LWI became an autonomous but highly complementary extension of the GTS unit.
In a dynamic market, the demands of clients are constantly changing, and McMahon says LWI is now building up momentum with recruitment of multidisciplinary individuals to accommodate customer requirements. “There’s a considerable demand from our work adjusting claims in the energy markets for people with skills in engineering, finance, accounting and, increasingly, information technology,” he says. “For example, we are constantly looking at new ways to relay information to customers much quicker; to introduce new mathematical modelling techniques that enable more accurate reserving forecasts and also improve communications that help us keep customers swiftly and thoroughly informed on the situation we are handling for them. We already deploy services such as custom Web sites for clients, and our whole model is built around adapting and using technology like videoconferencing as these are extremely reliable tools.”
McMahon noted that both the younger and experienced new talent now coming into the firm’s international offices is being deployed against all of its four primary areas of service—loss adjusting, major claim management, litigation support, and arbitration & mediation. Coincidentally, just as LWI has been focusing on expansion, it has had to adapt to a recent market downturn in energy claims.
According to the authoritative industry publication the Willis Energy Market Review Newsletter 2014, over the past couple of years claims volume has fallen to an all-time low. Along with decreases in energy prices came a consequent decrease in a range of industry activities that often generate claims, including less remote exploratory drilling and more limited activity in established oil fields ranging from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Middle Eastern oil operations that dominate the market.
Over the long term, McMahon isn’t unduly concerned about the drop in energy prices and activity. “We have been through these dips before. Energy demand and production activities will increase, and we will be well positioned to ably assist clients in any world region with the bespoke professional expertise they need,” he emphasized.
As the Crawford–LWI partnership matures, a U.S. foundation of Houston and New York offices is supplemented by a European presence in London, Paris and Geneva, while Asia is supported from LWI’s offices in Perth and Singapore. “The next focus will be on expanding into South America and the key areas in the Middle East,” adds McMahon. “But it’s not just placing dots on a map; we are looking carefully to find the right individuals with skills that our customers need. Industry knowledge of the energy sector is a pre-requisite, but above all we look for people that can go beyond the purely technical and are adept at communicating strategically between sophisticated clients, insurers, the supply chain and a variety of stakeholders.”
Crawford’s assistance is now going beyond geographic expansion. Recently, Crawford’s Global Markets’ Senior Vice President David Brocklehurst began serving as a consultant to LWI, where he will be working to combine the energy sector expertise of LWI with the global reach and spread of Crawford to their respective clients’ benefit. Brocklehurst explains. “In constantly changing market, LWI is building up a momentum with recruitment of specialised individuals to accommodate our client requirements in this sector. With that in mind, my role will be to support LWI so that it can leverage its well-respected brand with the support of Crawford’s network of services.”
McMahon noted that the addition of Brocklehurst to LWI is another example of operational and strategic synergy between the firms. “To have David Brocklehurst serving as a permanent consulting bridge between LWI and Crawford is a natural progression for us at this stage in our development.”
As a part of the Crawford family, LWI is now well positioned to deliver its high value services on a global scale.