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LONDON—Aon P.L.C.'s promotion of Steve McGill to group president should result in greater coordination of resources across the brokerage's three business units, analysts said after the announcement last week.
As the brokerage has grown with significant acquisitions over the past several years, Mr. McGill has been charged with leading the drive to make best use of the skills acquired—such as data analytics—across its insurance brokerage, reinsurance brokerage, and its human resources and benefits consulting units.
The promotion comes seven years after Mr. McGill joined Aon from Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group P.L.C. in London. He was based in Chicago for some of that time, but he is now based in London. Aon relocated its corporate headquarters to London earlier this year.
Mr. McGill will maintain his position as chairman and CEO of the firm's main insurance brokerage unit, Aon Risk Solutions. He will continue to report to Aon President and CEO Greg Case.
Mr. McGill's new role will require him to oversee development and execution of the firm's overall growth strategy, according to an Aon statement. While he will focus primarily on ARS and reinsurance brokerage Aon Benfield, he also will work with consulting unit Aon Hewitt.
“Steve is an exceptional leader for our firm,” Mr. Case said in a statement. “We are excited that he is taking on this new role and confident he will bring the same focus, passion and leadership capabilities he has demonstrated in Aon Risk Solutions to the rest of the firm.”
In an interview, Mr. McGill said a primary goal was to unite capabilities from each of the businesses. While the skill sets and technological capabilities at ARS and Aon Benfield were developed to serve different sectors, they complement each other, he said. For example, he said, technology developed by Aon Benfield to help insurance companies track their risk exposures in real time in the event of catastrophic losses could be repurposed to help ARS clients.
“We've been amazed by some of the analytics capabilities that exist in Aon Benfield,” he said. “Some of that technology is very relevant to our large corporate retail clients.”
The analytics capabilities also can be used to help assess total cost of risk, Mr. McGill said.
“When you look at total cost of risk, the premium a client pays is a pretty small proportion of their total cost of risk,” he said. “So, we have shifted our focus to the big prize, which is empowering results for our clients and helping them to drive profitable growth.”
Mr. McGill added that incorporating data-derived insights into the business was vital from a competitive standpoint. “We are incorporating analytics and technology into the DNA of the firm,” he said. “We think it's a huge differentiator for us and of significant value to our clients.”
Although he would not divulge the metrics the company would deploy to gauge success in this arena, he said that the transformation toward using analytics would be evident in how the company grows its business.
“As we go on this journey and start uniting the best content and capability that the firm has around clients, we expect it over time to translate into continued good organic growth,” he said. “Working with colleagues to realize the full potential of Aon has been an incredible experience, and we still feel we are at the early stages of that journey. I'm very confident that there is everything in place to execute on the vision.”
Observers said the move should help Aon integrate its capabilities.
Meyer Shields, director at St. Louis-based financial services firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc., said Mr. McGill's appointment makes sense in light of the moves the company has made in recent years.
“What we are seeing come to fruition are some ideas that Greg Case has had for a long time,” Mr. Shields said. “Some of it was buying companies such as Hewitt and Benfield, some of it was combining internal platforms that the various brokers and intermediaries could use. So I think the next phase now that all the tools are there is to make sure they are operating in as efficient manner as possible.”
The appointment “makes sure that the strengths are transferred from company to company,” he added.
Paul Newsome, managing director and senior insurance analyst at investment banking firm Sandler O'Neill & Partners L.P. in Chicago, said the integration of the business capabilities was a necessity, given that the largest brokerages have grown through acquisitions.
“There's a long history of insurance intermediaries not being too efficient,” Mr. Newsome said. “Many were never fully consolidated. Aon has been going through a multiyear effort to try to fix these legacy issues. At the same time, you are looking at an ever increasingly competitive environment.”