Meanwhile, firm believes that tough regulatory controls are discriminating against the top three
New Aon UK chief executive Rob Brown has outlined plans to shake up the senior management at the UK’s biggest broker with an executive reshuffle.
It follows the departure of Aon UK chief operating officer David Mead, after it emerged that he left the company last month to “pursue other interests”.
Aon has also confirmed it is in discussions with the FSA over creating “a level playing field” for all London market brokers.
Aon fears that tough controls placed on it in relation to its overseas business dealings are not the same at rival firms outside of “the big three” of itself, Willis and Marsh.
In an exclusive interview with Insurance Times, Brown explained that he is looking to stamp his own authority on the company and is currently reviewing the management structure before making changes.
He said that Mead’s departure “does create an opportunity”, but denied that he was looking to hire a number two.
“If I look at the top table, instinctively I could probably do with a very strong operator so I can spend as much time creating the ‘followship’, making sure the strategy is understood. There is a lot of governance that goes with the role, so I’m checking that we have got sufficient focus on that.”
He said new appointments would be “isolated” and focus on areas that have lacked the appropriate skills.
“I want to stamp my own authority on the executive,” Brown said, “and I’m looking at how I do that and how I create the team that suits me, my skills, and enables me to focus on creating
the followship and the execution to how we build it up.
“I’ve got a few months to just check to see how people behave and what goes on. But I feel very comfortable, and if we do see the opportunity we will take it.”
Brown replaced Peter Harmer as chief executive last month and said it is still possible that Harmer, who is returning to Australia for personal reasons, could remain within the business “in some shape or form”.
He played down talk of a restructuring, adding that the main aim was to simplify the process of allowing Aon’s global businesses to access the London market “as a matter of course”, because it had not worked in the past. He could not rule out job cuts but said the firm’s headcount had already reduced this year.
Since Aon’s record FSA fine of £5.25m for systems and controls failings relating to payments to overseas firms and individuals earlier this year, the company has lost a number of staff to rival firms, including members of its aviation team to JLT.
An Aon spokesman said: “There have been suggestions in the market that there is a two-tier regulatory system developing over the transacting of overseas business. It has been used as an excuse for a flurry of moves by individuals from the three big broking houses to their mid-market rivals, with claims that the robust control environment adopted by Aon and endorsed by the FSA is too rigorous or excessive.”
The spokesman added that Aon continued to work closely with the FSA over control systems with regard to overseas business. “We believe it is important for the integrity and reputation of our industry that the same high standards we are held to are applied to other London market brokers.”
Brown added that he was pleased with the focus that the industry and the FSA has on trying to create a level playing field.
Read the full interview: Rob Brown