Rival broker Willis also confirms losses, but denies report that 400 employees could go

Aon, the UK’s largest broker, will restructure its operations in the new year following this week’s announcement that it is cutting 700 jobs as it integrates Benfield.

Peter Harmer, the group’s chief executive, said he would overhaul Aon’s structure in early 2009, placing a greater emphasis on risk management and consultancy.

This week Aon completed the acquisition of Benfield and announced a raft of redundancies in its reinsurance division.

Meanwhile, rival broker Willis has confirmed that it is planning to cut jobs across the group, but disputed market rumours that up to 10% of its 4,000-strong workforce could go.

Harmer said in an interview with Insurance Times : “At the beginning of last year, we had an opportunity to say, what does tomorrow look like? Instead of, you know, how do we get through today? So now we’re looking to change to reflect that and change our business model.”

The Aon chief also outlined plans to capitalise on the economic crisis, by offering clients more analytical risk management services.

He said the business would be split into segments and provide advice based on research and understanding of a specific client’s needs.

“Brokers have pretty much over time become glorified product resellers. The advice brokers typically gave clients has been shaped by the limitations or features of the products and that may explain why there has not been any real innovation in the way we look at risk,” he said.

It is unlikely there will be redundancies from Aon UK, which is a separately run business from the reinsurance arm.

Willis has confirmed that it is increasing performance management and looking to cut jobs. It insisted there were no targets.

A spokesman said: “Like every well run business, we continuously strengthen our workforce through performance management. This process applies to all our associates and there are no specific areas or geographies that are being targeted. It’s not about cutting a specific number of jobs, it’s about creating a high-performing workforce that is the right size for our business.”