The firm was ‘not going to be able to blossom in the Willis Towers Watson family’ says broker chief executive

Specialist (re)insurance broker Miller is gearing up to “start of a new part of our existence” thanks to “significant firepower and expertise” from private equity investment that will see the firm leave “the Willis Towers Watson family” at the end of quarter one next year, subject to regulatory approval.

In November, international private equity firm Cinven and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC reached an agreement to buy Miller from Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

For Miller chief executive Greg Collins, the deal marks the “start of a new part of our existence” and will really work to “accelerate the pace of our growth” thanks to the “significant firepower and expertise” of “two of the most pre-eminent private equity investment communities in the UK and in Singapore”.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Collins explained that Miller and WTW had come to terms with the fact that the businesses would have to part ways as “it was just clear that we were not going to be able to blossom in the Willis Towers Watson family”.

In part, this is because Willis Group and Towers Watson – the pre-merger components of WTW – “have very different strategies in relation to their approach to the London Market”, Collins said.

“The most important thing is that [the deal] takes away the WTW ownership stake and puts us back into private, independent hands,” Collins continued.

“We had come to the conclusion between us and WTW that our strategies were starting to diverge and that the best thing to do for Miller and for its clients and people was to seek alternative investment.”

Fresh start

Despite achieving the desired investment, Collins said he is “not planning any changes in terms of the management team” and that “it’s about long-term stability”.

He added: “Obviously a number of people from Cinven and GIC will join the Miller board, but we will carry on operating exactly as we do now. The senior management team is wholly committed to the future of the business. It’s business as usual, with no major changes in strategy.”

However, Collins does believe that the investment will “accelerate our strategy”.

He explained: “We’re not looking to change our core – we’ll remain a specialty insurance and reinsurance broker – but we will look to accelerate the pace of our growth, both organically and where appropriate inorganically.

“If we can find acquisitions that either build out our existing business or allow us to move into a new geography or into a new product line, then those are the things that we’re going to be interested in.

“But, the initial phase of this will be all around accelerating growth within our existing business model, so we’ll be looking to hire individuals and teams as we grow out.”

Although keen to grow, Collins added that “it’s really important to us that we maintain the core of the Miller brand and the culture of the organisation as it is today” – this means that any acquisitions would need to align culturally with Miller as a business.

The investment will additionally support Miller’s investment in technology, Collins said, and “help us to accelerate our technology play and build out a stronger technology platform than we have already”.

For Miller, 2021 is an open book of opportunities.

Collins said: “We’re at the start of a new part of our existence, so we’re very excited about really getting into planning and development with our new investors and we’ll be looking to accelerate the pace of our growth and build out our business.

“For us, that’s what 2021 and beyond is all about. Providing exciting and interesting careers for our people and making sure we give our clients excellent service.”