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Aon hones in on middle-market clients with three-dimensional approach

Aon hones in on middle-market clients with three-dimensional approach

• Brokers service for medium buyers
• Brokers expertise for medium buyers
• Brokers overall for medium buyers

Aon P.L.C.'s selection by medium-sized businesses for Business Insurance's 2012 Buyers Choice honors for insurance brokerage service and expertise and as the overall winner in the category likely can be traced to its approach to middle-market business.

That approach involves a sort of “three-dimensional matrix,” said Thomas J. Fitzgerald, CEO of U.S. retail operations at Aon Risk Solutions in Chicago.

The first dimension is a recognition that midsize companies like to interact with a local brokerage team, Mr. Fitzgerald said, and Aon's offices across the U.S. allows it to serve middle-market clients close to their own locations.

The second dimension is Aon's ability to break down its client service focus by industry. “We believe clients like to talk shop around what ails them inside their industry vs. another industry,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “We have industry expertise that lines up around the segment known as middle market.”

Finally, he said, Aon is able to deliver appropriate products and help clients understand those products. “We try to deliver on-the-ground product expertise so clients understand the importance of the nuances of any particular insurance contract,” he said.

Also significant, Mr. Fitzgerald said, was Aon's move at the start of the year to place its employee health and benefits operation within the Aon Risk Solutions platform. With companies facing a changing benefits landscape with health care reform and ongoing cost pressures as health care prices continue to rise, “We thought organizing our firm around risk and people, moving the health and benefits operation into the Aon Risk Solutions platform to serve middle-market companies was an important decision,” he said.


Mr. Fitzgerald said he thinks Aon's middle-market clients also appreciate the analytical power the broker can deliver, such as its Global Risk Insight Platform with its repository of insurance placement information. “Through analytics, we're bringing a more educational-based solution to middle-market companies. Historically, benchmarking and large-scale analytical evaluations have been reserved for large corporations,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “Through analytics, we're allowing customers to understand what is possible and ultimately make more educated decisions around their risk transfer decisions each and every day.”

As businesses grow from small businesses to middle-market companies, their risk profiles change significantly, he said. With many middle-market companies not having a full-time risk manager, however, the broker's role takes on added significance, he said.

“The concept of a full-time risk manager is not necessarily as prevalent in the middle market as it may be in the large-account space,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “So the ability for us to act as an extension of the risk management department and provide industry and product expertise is highly valued by those customers.”

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