Ever since he began his career at insurance giant Marsh in New York 27 years ago, David Jacob has made DJing his outlet of choice in his spare time.

Asked about his favourite musical genre, the Marsh Asia CEO says he gravitates towards house, but has also branched out into techno and tech house over the years.

“I’ll DJ any chance I get,” he says. “Obviously it’s a little less now that I have three children, but it’s fun and breaks the everyday rigour of being an insurance CEO.”

The rigour David describes comes from Marsh’s flawless execution of a consistent strategy in an industry that has significantly evolved over many years.

David Jacob navigates risk

Risk is now front and centre of any boardroom discussion, and risk management is more sophisticated and embedded in company culture.

David thinks this is due to innovation and technology having come a long way, with data-driven insight now a core component of decision making.

One of the newer risks dominating a lot of discussions in the insurance world is cyber risk, with more traditional brick-and-mortar companies beginning to move into that space.

“Companies are now wanting to improve their distribution models and becoming digital-ready,” says David. “With that, there is an associated risk of cyber that companies have never really factored.”

An insurance evolution

Helping Marsh’s success along is the continued abundance of market capacity, with new forms of alternative capital beginning to emerge in the insurance space.

“It’s always evolving. There’s always opportunity for expansion, but with expansion there’s also been a lot of consolidation, which I think is great for the industry. It means you know you’re dealing with the right players and those that really have the stamina to sustain their market footprint,” David explains.

“Pretty much all 13 countries Marsh covers in Asia are aligned to a client segmentation model with data-driven industry analytics. That’s the cornerstone of our client proposition.”

Marsh’s client-centric business model is something David cites as “one of the hallmarks of our success”, and owes much of it to its leadership. Around 80 per cent of its core strategies are country-agnostic, he says, while the remaining 20 per cent allows for cultural differences between the nations.

Another area where the insurance broker is head and shoulders above the competition is its heavy focus on its sales function. “This has really seen us outpace our competitors in terms of organic growth,” says David.

“We’ve got the largest dedicated sales force among our broker competitors in the region, with a very consistent sales structure in place in all countries. That’s really been the cornerstone of how we continue to drive organic growth.”

The executive’s journey with Marsh Asia

David has spent a very long tenure at one company during a time when staying put for more than two or three years was practically unheard of, let alone 27.

A big factor in why that has been possible is the excellent career opportunities that Marsh has afforded him over the years, as well as the ability to create a sustainable work–life balance, he says.

While he’d “like to see more stability and consistency” in the workforce, David says it’s not necessarily a bad thing to move to different companies when the right opportunities arise.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re at in your career, ultimately you have to be happy,” he continues.

“Also, there really is no substitute for hard work and accountability.” Over the years, David believes there have been too many times where he has seen people in the business who are simply insincere and don’t come out as genuine, in terms of what they’re doing.

“Sincerity is the one thing I’ve always thought defines someone’s character. Part of that has to do with whether you’re absolutely passionate about your work.”

Sincerity is the one thing I’ve always thought defines someone’s character. Part of that has to do with whether you’re absolutely passionate about your work.

A belief that ‘health is wealth’

Equally passionate in leisure as in work, David is also a big believer in the whole ‘health is wealth’ slogan. As well as DJing, he has been doing CrossFit for a number of years in his spare time. “It’s really helped me both mentally and physically cope with the pressures at work,” he explains.

Even after 27 years as a one-company man, it’s still crucial he continues having that all-important work–life balance. “When you’re always on the go and it’s non-stop with travel, you still need to make sure that your body and your mind can keep up with that kind of regimen.”