WTW insurance broker in search of profitability in France

Work continues in the French number 2 in the field of business insurance. Former Gras Savoye, renamed WTW earlier this year, is working on greater integration with its parent company and wants to increase its profitability after the American group abandoned the mega-merger of the project with Aon.

“Our integration into the group is important,” said Cyril de Mongolfier, WTW’s general manager in France. This means adapting the business model, which is not the same in France as in the rest of the group. “

Lower profitability

The broker has already launched a computer project worth several tens of millions of euros to integrate French systems with the group’s systems.

He also intends to clarify by the end of the year the ways of reorganization aimed at making the group “more efficient”, “simpler”, as well as to assess possible synergies.

“The ambition is to increase our growth and our profitability,” explains Cyril de Mongolfier. The potential for productivity is obvious, but the fact that we haven’t worked on our model for years inevitably leads to our profitability. “

Last year, the broker recorded a turnover in France of 428 million euros in 2021 (compared to 509 million in 2020, when the subsidiary was sold).

The leader remains elusive about the impact of current projects on staff, while WTW has about 2,200 employees in France. “Let’s see, all options are open today,” he said. Who says that investments, he certainly says the return on investment.

The desire for transformation did not go unnoticed internally. “We think the idea is to refocus everything, and that’s scary,” we say on the side of the trade union (CFDT, CFE-CGC, CFTC). “We are concerned that we do not have accurate information about the company’s development in three years,” said another spokesman.

Autonomy of regions

“We are in an extremely tense social context, which does not encourage us to be optimistic, because the management pursues a policy of minimum wages, and the company’s results are excellent.” “We have concerns, we hear noise from the corridor, we are talking about a new organization, PSE…,” said Farida Gaauai of the FO union. In 2013, the broker implemented a job protection plan.

Having fallen into the hands of the British broker Willis in 2015, shortly before its merger with the American consulting specialist Towers Watson, Gras Savoye still retains some autonomy from its parent company. In addition, the broker, which is itself the result of acquisitions and has about thirty sites across France, is organized in six major regions with their own characteristics.

Failed to merge with Aon

“We want to save the regions. Intimacy is embedded in our DNA and, of course, our factor of differentiation, ”insists Cyril de Montgolfier. On the other hand, the manager would like, for example, that regional-based brokers find it easier to work with the various teams in the global group to better meet the expectations of French companies established internationally. He is also in favor of homogenizing loss insurance offers to small and medium-sized enterprises and intends to focus more on ESG.

The internally launched projects mark the company’s desire to write a new page after two eventful years. In early 2020, Willis Towers Watson announced a merger with Aon to form world number one in the sector.

Faced with antitrust objections, Willis announced in the spring of 2021 the sale of Gras Savoye to the American Gallagher. Finally, the group retreated, refusing to merge with Aon in the summer of 2021. At the same time, Siassi Saint-Honore turned to Diot to take the number one position in the brokerage market in France.