Rotterdam: enviable conditions for maritime business services
In the lead-up to Brexit, Thomas Miller, a London-based provider of marine and transport insurance services. started investigating the options for setting up a licensed subsidiary on the European continent as a necessary next step in continuing to serve its members following the UK’s departure from the EU.
After a thorough ‘Tour d’Europe’, Rotterdam was eventually chosen as the best location. In this article, René Doff – Chief Risk Officer, UK P&I Club N.V. and Thomas Miller B.V elaborates on why the company plumped for the maritime capital of Europe and how they experienced the process of moving to the Netherlands, including a helping hand from Rotterdam Partners.
Thomas Miller specialises in managing Mutual Clubs in the marine and transport insurance industry. The best-known insurance Clubs are the UK P&I Club, TT Club and ITIC, all of which are active in the marine and transport industry. Because of the complexity of the business and the required licensing, the process of finding an ideal location had to be thorough. Special attention was paid to familiarisation with the various financial supervisory authorities on the European mainland: not just to find out more about them, but also to understand their mores.
Needless to say, the presence of (potential) members was an equally important factor in the decision-making process. In the end, the choice fell on Rotterdam and offices were opened there in January 2019. From the spring of that year, the UK P&I Club N.V. has been able to provide insurance solutions for clients in the wider maritime and transport industry via specialised mutual clubs within the Thomas Miller Club.
Pragmatism and a receptive attitude
Doff: “We didn’t choose the location lightly, having given serious consideration to a number of alternatives. What stood out from the other options we were investigating was the pragmatic and receptive approach of the Dutch insurance regulator (De Nederlandsche Bank). During the licensing process we experienced a genuine interest in our company which certainly benefitted the procedure. It also had a positive influence on our own perspective and attitude towards doing business from a base in the Netherlands.”
Another contributing factor was the fact that their counterparts at the Dutch insurance regulator had an in-depth knowledge of the shipping industry. Doff: “Being a mutual insurer means that shipowners become members of the club. In essence, we service and report to our ‘owners’. This creates a different kind of dynamic than is the case with regular listed insurance companies. Compared to other countries we believe that the Dutch government has a better understanding of such a unique structure and, for that matter, a better understanding of shipping too.” This is especially important for P&I Clubs.
Apart from expectancies about cooperation with governmental institutions, other factors were also taken into account. “Rotterdam is the perfect gateway to our other European locations. In addition, the close proximity of the port, along with fantastic infrastructure, means that it is easy to provide our members with hands-on onboard advice on how to mitigate risks. Incident prevention is high on the list of our services. Last but not least,” Doff goes on to say, “living conditions in Rotterdam are marvellous. Day-to-day expenses, social benefits and commuting times are far more attractive than is the case in London. I might even call them enviable.”
Feet on the ground
From the very moment that Thomas Miller decided to open a subsidiary in Rotterdam, the company was supported by Rotterdam Partners, whether this was in finding suitable office space or obtaining the required licenses and work permits, for example. Doff: “This was really useful. Being introduced into the local network and the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community was also helpful in getting our feet on the ground in this magnificent maritime hub.”
Source: Rotterdam Maritime Capital of Europe