John Tortell is a business leader who is bursting with positive energy. “My children always tell me I need to calm down. Yet it is precisely that vitality that has led Jatco to become the company it is today: a forward-thinking insurance broker at the forefront of local and international legislation.
The firm is not only a leading player in the Maltese market but is also venturing into and building a strong reputation in international markets. In fact, the company has recently rebranded to commemorate this growth and mark a new dawn. “We’re one of the very few insurance brokers that can offer a wide variety of insurance solutions to all categories of clients, both local and foreign, and retail and wholesale,” John asserts.
The company’s vision revolves around its mission statement, ‘Individual Attention You Deserve’. It strives to offer bespoke solutions to ensure that all customers can benefit from the necessary insight and expertise required in today’s competitive and challenging world. Jatco seeks to achieve excellence through their commitment to clients, developing close relationships with both clients and underwriters based on integrity and professionalism.
So how did the firm get to this point in the first place? “It all started in 1987 when I was 21-years old I had already been working at my uncle’s insurance business for four years at the time, and I decided that I wanted to be my own boss,” he recalls. “I remember my thought process at the time: I wasn’t yet married, had no children or responsibilities, so all I could lose was the money for petrol.” And just like that, Jatco was born.
Eleven years later, Jatco was well established as an insurance intermediary in the Maltese market when John’s biggest client approached him with an issue. “He was being attacked, and needed my help in getting different prices from everywhere. That was my impetus to become a broker.”
The company’s traditional market has always been the local one, where a team of professionals support local clients’ needs for all lines of insurance business, including Motor, Health and Life (both Personal and Group), Directors and Officers Liability, Professional Liability, Property, Accident, Liability, Banking, Engineering, Construction, Property Rehabilitation, Aquaculture, Manufacturing, Wholesale and Retail, Marine and Shipping.
The next leap for the business came along in 2013, when Jatco was converted and licensed to operate as a Protected Cell Company (PCC). It now has a number of licensed cells and is currently handling the license applications for various new insurance brokerage cells within its PCC structure. A PCC provides numerous advantages compared to stand-alone insurance intermediaries, as it operates in two parts – the company core and the cells, and hence offers lower risks, capital requirements and costs. Malta is the only EU member state with PCC legislation and Jatco has seized this opportunity by attracting entities who require an EU subsidiary to service their EU/EEA clients.
Once Brexit came along in 2016, Jatco’s Protected Cell status became a sought-after option for UK brokers. “Intermediaries needing EU domicile can use Malta in a cell without having to set up their own company. They can access the EU through our passporting arrangements,” John explains. “So far, we have licensed nine, and we’re contracted to license another six .”
Then came the pandemic. Thankfully, the insurance sector wasn’t one of those hit hard, as John acknowledges. “It was a good opportunity for us to calm down and recalibrate. We had time to think about where we can go as a business, and what steps we need to take to get there.”
One key step was opening a new branch in the UK. A year ago, the Malta Financial Services Authority along with the Financial Conduct Authority of the UK approved Jatco’s application to open a branch of the company in London – just across the road from the Lloyd’s of London Building. The branch was established to cater for the company’s UK client base, and for EU clients especially, in order to gain access to Lloyd’s of London following Brexit. This was a strong addition to Jatco as it cements its specialist structure and ever-expanding innovative and specialist risk solutions required both in Malta and in the EU.
With its UK presence secured, one final piece of the puzzle fell into place in March of 2021: becoming a Lloyd’s broker. Lloyd’s has been a pioneer in insurance and has grown over 330 years to become the world’s leading market for specialist insurance. “Although Jatco operates a very different business model to traditional Lloyd’s Brokers, we’re proud to have been accredited by Lloyd’s earlier this year” John smiles. “We can now conduct open market business with Lloyd’s Underwriters and place delegated underwriting authority business on behalf of approved Coverholders within the Lloyd’s market.”
This achievement has taken the firm to a new level. Being a member of Lloyd’s prestigious community will benefit Jatco from the strength of Lloyd’s internationally recognised brand, a team of global experts and a calendar of exclusive events.
Suffice to say that 2021 has been a bright year for the firm. “It wasn’t the year I expected, but it was certainly interesting” John nods. “The only drawback was the lack of travel. Zoom and Teams are good alternatives for getting work done, but so much more gets done when you’re sitting across a table from someone, in an office or over lunch. You brainstorm, you get talking, things happen.”
It’s not the first time that John has given importance to personal connections. He has already made it clear that the relationships with his colleagues are a top priority for him. “My employees are my family. Yes, a few of us are actually related by blood, but everyone I work with is considered family” he insists.
This passion for building relationships also carries into his meetings with clients. “I enjoy the connections you make through the job. You end up making a connection that is personal, and that adds more to the colour of life” he reveals.
Having done so much in recent years for the growth of the business, John has big plans for the coming year. “2022 will be a year where we consolidate our business and keep an eye out for any international opportunities” he asserts. “I look forward to travelling again, to finally meeting the clients I’ve spoken to through screens for two years. Now that we’re back to some kind of normality, we’re looking forward to achieving more growth and expansion.”
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