Willis Towers Watson : Everything you need to know

Everything you need to know about Willis Towers Watson

Stats (2017)

  • 140+ countries
  • 43,000+ employees worldwide
  • US$8.2 billion total revenue
  • London, UK


Willis Towers Watson is a global insurance broking and risk advisory company and has five New Zealand offices in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and Wellington.

The company’s history dates back to 1828, though Willis Towers Watson as it exists today was formed in 2016 through the merger of London-based Willis Group, and Arlington-based Towers Watson & Co.

Henry Willis started out as an insurance broker in 1841, when he applied for Lloyd’s membership and became involved in marine insurance, founding Henry Willis & Company. Reuben Watson founded the world’s oldest actuarial firm, R. Watson & Sons, in 1878, and the company still retains its first client – Manchester Unity of Oddfellows – to this day, along with many other of its earliest actuarial and brokerage clients.

The two companies went through a series of transformations throughout their lifespan over the following century, and in 2001, the then-called Willis Group was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and experienced solid growth. In 2010, a merger of equals between companies Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt took place to form Towers Watson, and, in 2016, the final merger between Willis Group and Towers Watson yielded the company as it exists today.

Service offerings

The company’s global team spans almost 30 industry sectors and specialises in over 40 different service areas, offering comprehensive risk management services primarily to business clients, but also to private individuals. Its key services include the following:

Corporate risk and broking: This revolves around tailoring individual strategies to quantify, mitigate and transfer a client’s risk. Willis Towers Watson boasts an “unparalleled market know-how”, and its worldwide team has specialisms across a broad range of industry sectors and the unique risk profiles present within each sector.

Human capital and benefits: This involves providing a comprehensive HR strategy from employee benefits to executive compensation. The group takes into account various data, analytics and software-generated information to inform the tailoring of its products.

“High-performing institutions cultivate and grow talent, carefully balancing costs and rewards,” the company states. “We unearth new ways to motivate people, foster wellbeing and implement solutions that work.”

Investment, risk and reinsurance: This involves analysing a company’s risk, and helping clients to free up capital. The group works with investors, reinsurance and insurers to balance risk and return, taking both analytics data and industry knowledge into account.


Willis Towers Watson’s industry expertise spans 29 different sectors. Among its biggest industry offerings are its aerospace, healthcare, energy and mining and metal solutions, which encompass each corner of their respective industries and continuously stay on top of evolving risks.

As an example, the company’s aerospace offering takes into account the potential risks of catastrophic disasters, liability claims and air traffic control liability, and also encompasses the unique risks associated with helicopter operations. Its healthcare offering takes into account rapidly changing global healthcare reimbursement models, helping clients navigate any uncertainties in healthcare reform, manage professional liability risks and access a wide pool of healthcare expertise.

Other notable sectors serviced by Willis Towers Watson include financial institutions, an offering which encompasses cover for crime-related issues, professional indemnity, D&O liability and political and credit risk; real estate, construction, reinsurance and life sciences.


Willis Towers Watson’s current CEO and director is John Haley, who has served in the joint roles since January 04, 2016. Haley joined in 1977 and has held a number of roles throughout his career, including consulting actuary and manager of the Washington DC consulting office. Haley was appointed CEO in 1998.

Mike Burwell serves as chief financial officer and spent 31 years at Pricewaterhouse Coopers before joining Willis Towers Watson. His time in PwC was initially spent in assurance, before moving on to its Detroit-based transaction services practice and eventually being appointed chief financial officer.

Nicolas Aubert serves as CEO of Willis Limited, and heads up the Great Britain branch of Willis Towers Watson. He was formerly the COO of AIG in the EMEA region, as well as the managing director of AIG in the UK.

Anne Donovan Bodnar is the chief human resources officer, having previously held the role of chief administrative officer at Towers Watson from 2010.

Matt Furman is Willis Towers Watson’s General Counsel and previously acted as General Counsel at Willis, forming a part of its operating committee. He is a former attorney of Goldman Sachs in New York.

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