Global insurance firm Willis announces jobs shake-up to Ipswich staff

Global insurer Willis has announced a shake-up of its UK operations to staff at Ipswich.

Global insurer Willis has announced a shake-up of its UK operations to staff at Ipswich.

A global insurance firm is set to shed up to 350 jobs across the UK as part of a major shake-up - but the news is likely to be positive overall for Ipswich.

Dominic Casserley, group CEO of Willis

Dominic Casserley, group CEO of Willis - Credit: Archant

Willis announced the restructure plans to staff at its Ipswich site on Monday when a collective consultation was launched.

But the firm, which is aiming to improve the efficiency of its global business, wants to relocate some posts to its lower cost locations in India and the UK, which could include Ipswich.

Willis employs around 4,000 staff across the UK, around 1200 of whom are based at its Ipswich site, which is thought to be central to its future plans.

The town is second only in importance to its London headquarters, which currently employs around 2,500 people, and along with the Mumbai office, is expected to achieve a net gain from its restructure proposals. There are 14 offices across the UK, but Ipswich is its second largest site by some distance.

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Overall global numbers of employees should remain broadly the same, and the consultation is expected to be concluded by the middle of this summer.

Under the proposals, back office functions, predominantly around ‘placing’ (the placement of risk within insurance markets), billing and claims handling, are expected to migrate from its high cost centres, such as London, to the low cost centres. Ipswich already deals with those three areas.

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A spokesman for Willis said: “Willis is making changes in line with our global programme to improve operational efficiency and client service. The proposed changes support the continued growth of our business and enable many of the investments we want to make to strengthen further our risk advisory and broking capabilities.

“Regrettably, this will affect a number of roles here in the UK – mainly as a result of certain activities being relocated. We are currently working through this process carefully with our employees.”

The restructure announcement is part of Willis’s ‘Operational Improvement Program’, which was announced by group chief executive Dominic Casserley in April of last year. This is expected to deliver cumulative cost savings of around £286million through 2017 and annual costs saving of around £204m from 2018 onwards.

The programme started in the second quarter of 2014, when savings were estimated at around £3.4m. This year savings are expected to be around £31m and next year, £92m.

The firm, which employs around 18,500 people worldwide, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the completion of its iconic Grade 1 listed Willis building in Ipswich, designed by Norman Foster, later this year.

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