Work in progress in French Insurance Brokerage Number 2. The former Gras Savoye, renamed WTW earlier in the year, is working on greater integration with its parent company and looking to boost its profitability after the US group pulled out of a mega-merger project with Aon.
“Our integration into the group is very important,” Cyril de Montgolfier, CEO of WTW France, told Echos. This includes adapting a business model that is different in France than in the rest of the group.”
The broker has already launched a computer project worth “several tens of millions of euros” to integrate French systems with those of the group.
He also intends by the end of the year to clarify the ways of reorganization aimed at making the group “more efficient”, “simplify” and evaluate possible synergies.
“Our goal is to increase our growth and profitability,” explains Cyril de Montgolfier. The performance improvement opportunities are clear, but the fact that we have not worked on our model for many years inevitably reduces 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 does not understand the implications of current projects for staff, while WTW in France has about 2,200 employees. “Let’s see, all options are open today,” he said. Whoever talks about investments always talks about the return on investment.”
The desire for transformation did not go unnoticed inwardly. “We feel like the idea is to reorient everything, and it’s scary,” we say on the inter-union side (CFDT, CFE-CGC, CFTC). “We are concerned that we do not have accurate information about the evolution of the company over three years,” continues another representative.
Autonomy of the regions
“We are in an extremely tense social environment that does not inspire us with optimism, as management has a minimum wage policy and the company’s results are excellent.” “We have concerns, we hear noise in the hallway, we are talking about the new PSE organization…,” notes Farida Gauawi from the FO trade union. In 2013, the broker implemented a job protection plan.
After falling into the hands of British broker Willis in 2015, shortly before its merger with US consultancy Towers Watson, Gras Savoye retains some autonomy from its parent company. In addition, the broker, which itself is the result of acquisitions and has about thirty offices throughout France, is divided into six main regions with their own characteristics.
Failed to merge with Aon
“We want to save the regions. Proximity is in our DNA and is certainly our distinguishing factor,” insists Cyril de Montgolfier. On the other hand, the manager would like, for example, to make it easier for brokers based in the regions to work with the various teams of the global group in order to better meet the expectations of French companies based internationally. He also advocates unifying SMB non-life insurance offerings and intends to focus more on ESG.
The projects launched within the company testify to 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 become the global leader in the sector.
Faced with antitrust objections, Willis announced in the spring of 2021 the sale of Gras Savoye to American Gallagher. Finally, the group backtracked by pulling out of the merger with Aon in the summer of 2021. At the same time, Siachi Saint-Honore approached Dio with a request to take the number 1 position in the brokerage market in France.