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Norman Mitchell Featured in Business News Americas

2 Sep 2011

Loss adjusters bullish on Latin America's growth potential Originally Published by Business News Americas, 2 September 2011
Article by Ulric Rindebro

The last few years have seen many multinational insurance groups recording strong growth in Latin America, and with that their announcements that the region will be one of their main growth engines in the years to come.

Loss adjusting firms do not get the same attention from media as primary insurers do, but they are also viewing Latin America as a place to be and thrive in the future.

One such firm is global loss adjusting group Axis, and BNamericas spoke to its regional managing director, Norman Mitchell, to find out about the growth strategy the company employs in Latin America.

BNamericas: Is the Latin American market a big revenue-generator for Axis today, or do you expect it to become that at some point the future?

Mitchell: Latin America is already very important for the company in terms of revenues, and we expect to see very strong revenue in the region over the next several years. In our biggest market, Mexico, we have seen substantial growth over the last five years, and we expect to double our Mexican business [revenues] over the next two or three years.

BNamericas: Besides Mexico, what other countries in the region do you expect will produce strong growth for Axis?

Mitchell: There are many countries where we see an attractive growth potential, but in the short term we expect significant growth in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.

BNamericas: What's your investment plan for the coming years to sustain this rapid growth that you expect?

Mitchell: We're planning to make significant investments to grow our Latin American business during the next few years, which includes both organic growth and acquisitions. We will also hire a large number of new staff in the coming years, especially engineers for our fast growing engineering risk business and expats for our business with international reinsurers. Our plan is to develop a pool of adjusters with lots of experience in the UK market, but who don't have international experience. One of the reasons for this plan is that the traditional pool of international claims adjusters is getting "old."

BNamericas: In Latin America, do you face the stiffest competition from other international players, or are your strongest rivals domestic firms?

Mitchell: Given the nature of our business, we compete with other international claims adjusters in Latin America, and in each country there is also local competition. Axis sees itself as a local player that works at the international reinsurance level.

BNamericas: Any plans of expanding your physical footprint in Latin America in the near future?

Mitchell: Today, our physical presence in the region is made up of Mexico [Mexico City and Monterrey], Argentina and Colombia, while in the rest of Latin America we operate with local partners in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.

BNamericas: The Brazilian insurance market has entered a phase of rapid growth, which is expected to continue for many years due to the country's economic strength and a massive pipeline of infrastructure projects. Considering this scenario, would it not be a good time to have a direct presence in Brazil?

Mitchell: Brazil has significant growth potential, but it's also a different market to operate in compared to the rest of Latin America. So for now we plan to continue with our strategy of doing business through our local partner, who has operations in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

BNamericas: Finally, what business lines do you see as your main growth drivers in Latin America in the coming years?

Mitchell: P&C is our core business in Latin America, but energy, financial and specialty lines are also important market segments for us with significant growth potential.

BIOGRAPHY:

Norman Mitchell is responsible for Axis' Latin American operations covering Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Peru.

Mitchell joined Axis in 2005 and has nearly 40 years experience in the loss adjusting industry. His expertise is focused on financial institutions and professional risk, P&C, construction and machinery breakdown claims - both in the UK and internationally.

In addition to the Latin American operations, Mitchell has worldwide responsibility for Axis' financial institutions and professional risk services.

ABOUT THE COMPANY:

Axis is a global firm providing loss adjusting, claims management and surveying services in an array of industries since 1996. Recent projects in Latin America include banana losses in Central America and the Caribbean and tobacco claims in Brazil.

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