McKinsey’s Casserely to Succeed Plumeri as Willis Group CEO

October 17, 2012

Dominic Casserley will serve as the next chief executive officer of global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, effective Jan. 7, 2013.

Also, Steve Hearn, currently the chairman and CEO of Willis Global, will serve as deputy CEO and Joe Plumeri, who has served as chairman and CEO of Willis Group since 2000 and led the company back to public ownership and steered its global expansion during his 12-year tenure, will serve as non-executive chairman through July, 2013.

Casserley, 54, is currently a senior partner of McKinsey & Co., which he joined in New York in 1983. During his 29-years at McKinsey, Casserley has been based in the U.S. for 12 years, Asia for five and, since 2000, has been working across Europe from London. During his time at McKinsey, Casserley led the firm’s Greater China Practice and its UK and Ireland Practice. An expert on global financial services, including insurance companies, and the opportunities of expanding into new markets, Casserley has been a member of McKinsey’s Shareholder Council, the firm’s global board, since 1999 and for four years served as the chairman of the Finance Committee of that board.

Following a transition period in 2013, Casserley will be based in Willis’ New York office.

Steve Hearn, 46, joined Willis as chairman and CEO of Glencairn Limited, the third-party wholesale brokerage business that Willis acquired through its $2.1 billion acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs (HRH) in 2008. Hearn’s influence at Willis has grown steadily since the HRH acquisition, continuing with his appointment as CEO of Willis Re in February, 2011. In January 2012, Hearn was appointed chairman and CEO of Willis Global, encompassing the company’s global reinsurance, placement and specialty operations. Hearn will continue in that role in addition to his deputy CEO post.

Plumeri, 69, joined Willis as chairman and CEO 12 years ago, on Oct. 15, 2000, following a 32 year career with Citigroup Inc. and its predecessors. Willis in 2000 was owned by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), but Plumeri successfully engineered an initial public offering within a year. From that 2001 IPO through the end of September 2012, Willis’ share price has risen 174 percent, outperforming the company’s closest competitors, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the S&P average of insurance stocks.

During his 12-year tenure, Plumeri navigated Willis through a series of challenges that faced both the company and the insurance industry as a whole.

  • Willis’ IPO in June 2001, priced at $13.50 per share, represented a return to public ownership following three years as a privately held company.
  • Just months after Willis’ 2001 initial public offering, the attack on the World Trade Center, a Willis client then and now, represented a monumental challenge in securing insurance coverage and insurance carrier confidence to rebuild the site.
  • In 2004-2005, amid a broad investigation of the industry by the New York Attorney General, Willis disavowed contingent commissions and establishing the industry’s first Client Bill of Rights.
  • Throughout the last decade, Willis has helped to develop the Chinese insurance market. It was the first global broker to receive a license to operate there and, remaining the largest, established its 22nd office in China in the summer of 2012.
  • In 2008, with the world facing a financial crisis, Willis continued its expansion in Asia, Europe and Latin America, and effectively doubled Willis’ footprint in North America with its $2.1 billion acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs (HRH).

For his role in guiding Willis toward its current position of prominence, Plumeri was named, among many other honors, “The Insurance Leader of the Year” in 2006 by St. John’s University and among “The 100 Most Influential People in Finance” by Treasury & Risk Magazine in 2009 and 2010.

“I am proud beyond words of our company’s achievements seizing on opportunities and confronting challenges spanning a dozen years,” Plumeri said.

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