Quality and consistency through collaboration


Sparke Helmore joined Global Insurance Law Connect (GILC) in February 2019. As the sole Australian representative firm, joining such a pre-eminent network makes a powerful statement about the firm’s focus on and commitment to the insurance sector. Being part of this group gives Sparke Helmore the ability to connect its clients with like-minded and high-performing organisations in key jurisdictions, with the member firms united by a common foundation of meeting client demand for creative and commercial outcomes alongside a shared dedication to innovation.

To tell us more about Sparke Helmore’s involvement with GILC and the benefits it brings to clients of the firm, we caught up with Gillian Davidson, Partner and GILC Asia Pacific Board Representative.

Why did Sparke Helmore become a member of GILC? What specific firm and/or market dynamics were driving the decision? What makes GILC different from other networks—and was that a factor in the decision-making process?

For some time Sparke Helmore had been grappling with the issue of how do we, as a committed national law firm, ensure we are able to provide services to our global clients.

In the Commercial Insurance space, the vast majority of our major strategic and key clients are global. GILC presented us with an opportunity to combine our depth of insurance expertise with the reach of its global network.

It’s also true that we recognised and respected the significant impact of the globalisation of law firms. As our competitors increasingly became global firms we needed to have an answer to that and not simply allow them to take up the space. So joining GILC provided us with an answer to our clients to say we are not a global law firm but yes, we have global connections. In fact, with the robust admission criteria applied by GILC, we know we’re working with the “best of the best” when it comes to insurance law.

In doing the analysis of whether we should join GILC, when we ran through the list of clients and the strategic interest areas of the firms across the network we just kept ticking boxes. And when we looked at what its strategic objectives were, we could see that these were also aligned with Sparke Helmore. Ultimately it was an easy decision for us.

GILC’s focus on insurance is a strength, which combined with the special interest groups the network has established means that we can contribute our local insights, add the insights of our global members and then shape and deliver smart solutions in those areas for our clients.

You’re on the GILC Board as Asia Pac representative. Tell me about the role. What sort of initiatives will you be championing?

Being in that role requires me to attend two board meetings per month—one is for the network board meeting and the second is for the regional members. My biggest challenge is to remember that often at 9pm I have to make a phone call and attend a board meeting!

The primary strategy is working out ways we can collaborate with the key clients identified from across the network as well as building the special interest groups. The Board spends some time considering how the powerful insights these groups produce can be leveraged and rolled out across the network.

With Australia continuing to see Asia as a growth opportunity, both inbound and outbound, what sort of initiatives will be on your agenda to foster relationships across Asia?

We are focused on building out the network in the Asia Pacific area and expect to see new members join over the next year.

The Asia Pacific group is concentrating on how to firstly, build the network and secondly respond to the issues in the region. We are looking at producing an emerging market report and participating in conferences with clients at key locations throughout the region.

Closer to home, what do you see as the key issue/s facing the Australian insurance industry?

The GILC Risk Radar report is the network’s most recent “leading thinking” initiative and provides a fascinating snapshot of the issues facing the global insurance market. We identified three areas in Australia that we believe are having the greatest impact on this market—building and construction risk, climate risk and liability of directors.

Interestingly the most common issue throughout the global network is the impact of regulation on the insurance industry. Seeing that regulatory impact is a cause of discussion and concern from India to Italy to Taiwan and knowing that the situation is similar in this country, particularly post the Hayne Royal Commission, is both insightful and reassuring.

The other consistent theme that I see from the report and which certainly comes up in our discussions as a network, is the war for talent. The insurance industry requires large numbers of engaged, highly trained people in it and ensuring that the best people are able to participate in the sector is a challenge for many markets around the world including Australia.

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