Ranking clubs in a table “ultimately unhelpful” says Marsh advisor Trew

Each club has a different way of presenting itself, but a review of their marketing material shows that they all position themselves in a similar way: strong finances, exceptional service, a first class membership and a strong commitment to mutuality said John Trew, Marsh Special Advisor, in Marsh JLT’s P&I Review.

However, while it would tempting for the broker to rank clubs into a table, such an approach would be “ultimately unhelpful”, he said.

Trew noted that many shipowners were members of clubs that they felt were ‘right for them’. Paying what they perceived to be a fair deal and receiving a proactive service from claims handlers they knew and trusted was far more important to them than knowing where their club ranked, based on a standardized set of criteria. “Their only real concern may be the prospect of unbudgeted supplementary calls”, said Trew.

He observed that, while it had become customary for some brokers to analyze the whole P&I market in their annual reports, Trew did not feel that this was helpful, as it ignored the differences between the clubs and the real choice available to shipowners.

“Despite their marketing material, the clubs are not a cohesive, homogeneous group that need to take ‘collective’ action. While some clubs might arguably need to reconsider their rates, others do not. Likewise, the extent to which clubs are over-capitalised needs to be assessed at an individual club level, not in the aggregate”, said Trew.

He provided a short overview of each club, providing information on their recent performance, their client offering and what challenges lie ahead. As we head towards the end of the year, IMN will publish these over the coming days in blocks of three.

Trew said that “looking at the profiles, you can see how different they are; while some are flourishing, others find themselves in choppier waters”.

He observed that while some were investing in new technology, developing online digital platforms to provide members with a variety of data relating to ports and areas where their ships may be trading, those clubs without plans to develop these tools might be left behind.

John Trew, a qualified barrister, started his career with Ellerman City Liners, working on one of their Mediterranean trades. In 1985, he moved to Tindall Riley, managers of the Britannia P&I club. In 2018, he retired as Chairman of Tindall Riley before joining Marsh JLT Specialty as a Special Advisor. He led the launch of the hull policy ‘Marianne’ with Allianz and the Small Ships Facility, Carina. In addition, he wrote Britannia’s Guide to Oil Pollution Legislation.