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A couple of years ago, when Vic Krauze, chairman and CEO of Willis North America, met with a middle-market client in a Midwestern city, the client told him he was happy with the job Willis was doing for him but was disappointed that the broker didn't have more clients in his industry.
Although Willis had several other clients in that industry, it apparently wasn't doing a very good job of making that known, Mr. Krauze said.
“Clients want local service, but they also want industry specialization. We hadn't done enough to let clients know that we had specialization,” he said.
Today, Willis is recognized for its expertise in five specific industries: construction, health care, employee benefits, financial institutions and technology, Mr. Krauze said. In addition, the broker has been recognized by its middle-market clients in the Business Insurance Buyers Choice Awards for the level of service it provides.
“We've invested heavily in training around those core specialties, and we are also developing very sophisticated diagnostic tools and resources, so our producers and client advocates can be experts themselves, as opposed to having to bring in an expert from another city,” he said. As a result, instead of exchanging small talk with clients “about golf or kids, our client advocates know how to speak with clients about issues pertinent to their particular industries.”
For example, in construction, Willis is helping contractors address increases in their workers compensation experience modification factors that impact their ability to compete. “We also provide experience mod audits and projections to help our clients manage and stay one step ahead of the challenges they will face,” Mr. Krauze said.
Willis also has beefed up expertise in its human capital practice after noticing that many middle-market employers were in dire need of resources to understand how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would affect their health benefits programs.
“We've got a national legal research group that does nothing but analyze health care reform and put out bulletins and conduct webinars. We provide them with access to information to help them decide what to do,” Mr. Krauze said.
Health care reform also is having a significant impact on health care firms themselves, one of Willis' largest middle-market customer segments.
“A lot of our health care clients are either going to contract with or be acquired by accountable care organizations in the next year. We've put a lot of resources into client education and consulting,” Mr. Krauze said.
Willis also is working with carriers to develop one-stop risk transfer for health care organizations, combining directors and officers liability coverage with employment practices liability, cyber and fraud into a single package policy, he said.
Meanwhile, Willis is helping clients in its financial institutions and technology practices address cyber security.
Recently publicized news reports about hacking and security breaches “have created a lot of interest there. Everybody's got a website, and within the middle market, a lot of other middle-market organizations transact across those websites, but many of them haven't thought about how to protect against that risk,” Mr. Krauze said.
View profiles of all the honorees here.