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Willis CEO announces the next cost-saving step



Willis Towers Watson PLC on Thursday outlined a bold plan to deliver $ 10 billion + in revenue and a 25% margin increase in 2024 when it unveiled a $ 300 million cost-saving program and $ 4 billion in stock purchases.

Incoming President and CEO Carl Hess told analysts Willis will achieve the $ 300 million cost savings by strengthening its business centers and opportunities for shared services, modernizing its real estate portfolio and modernizing technology.

Willis is now at "a turning point", says current CEO John Haley, who will retire at the turn of the year, during the brokerage's investor day presentation on Thursday.

“We have gone through the aborted Aon merger. We must now regroup, says Haley.

Willis announced a reorganization of its global leadership in two business segments and three geographic regions just over a week ago.

Recruiting talent is a "major priority" throughout the board, Hess said. Andrew Krasner, who was recently named CFO, is "one of literally hundreds of people who have joined us this year," Hess said.

Many employees have left Willis since the proposed merger with Aon was announced in March last year. year.

Willis Corporate Risk and Brokerage has already employed 1

00 people since the announcement discontinued the Aon combination and expects customer retention levels to return to pre-announcement levels and new business to exceed pre-contract levels, said Adam Garrard, Head of Risk and Brokerage. the presentation.

Corporate risk and brokers' voluntary fatigue rate over the past 12 months was 13.4%, an increase from 11% in 2020 and is most pronounced in North America, Garrard said. The customer's retention during the first half of 2021 fell to 92% from 94% the previous year. In Garrard. A "well-funded bonus ball" is in place to reward employees who stayed on the track, he said.

To reach its revenue target of $ 10 billion plus, Willis will look for places in its portfolio that offer the greatest potential, says Mr. Hess said. "We will leverage the portfolio effect by leveraging cross-cutting locations that allow our companies to differentiate and enjoy premium prices and / or gain market share," he said.

The cost saving of $ 300 million is already underway and is expected to contribute 300 points for margin improvement against the fiscal year 2024 margin target, said Willis senior leader.

Willis is in the market for inorganic opportunities that fill gaps or take advantage of the scale in his portfolio, but will set a high bar for them, Hess said.

In terms of market share, Willis' brokerage business in North America is "underweight", said Hess. "We will look for opportunities to grow in both the large and medium-sized markets where it makes sense," he said.

Two weeks ago, Willis announced a first agreement to acquire Israeli broker Leaderim.

Willis reported $ 9.29 billion in brokerage revenue by 2020, an increase of 3.9% from the previous year and maintained its position as the world's third largest broker, according to Business Insurance latest ranking.

Separately, insurtech Innovisk Capital Partners LLP said on Thursday that private equity firms BHMS Investments LP and Abry Partners II LLC have agreed to acquire a majority stake in the business from Willis.

Innovative, founded in 2017, seeds and develops managing general offices. The transaction is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter.

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