The head of Willis Global Wealth Solutions (GWS) Yves Guélat sees great potential in Asia’s increasing population of so-called High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI)
Speaking to StrategicRISK, Guélat (pictured) said that he expected the HNWI population to grow “consistently” over the next few years. “The increasing need for creating and preserving wealth for future generations has resulted in double-digit growth for the life insurance industry over the past five years, with an increased momentum in 2013 which is likely to continue in 2014,” he said.
Willis established a global unit to service the HNWI segment two years ago, but has now stated its intent to seriously target the Asia-Pacific region’s wealthiest inhabitants with the acquisition of specialist broker Charles Monat. A life insurance solutions adviser to HNWIs, Charles Monat has 61 employees and consultants based in Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and the US.
Guélat said that the financial institutions, law firms, family offices and trust companies that Willis currently partner with in Asia would benefit from having a “one-stop-shop broker that is able to assist their own clients”. Services would include “protecting their family, enhancing wealth, planning retirement and securing their business by providing capital liquidity through life insurance”, he added.
“We will also cover their needs for insurance solutions among others in the area of private jets, fine art, marine, kidnap & ransom, bloodstock and all other assets held by HNWI,” he said.
Charles Monat, who founded Charles Monat Limited in Hong Kong in 1971, will become the worldwide chairman of Willis’s GWS business. “This merger creates the ideal platform for expanding and supporting our growing international business,” he said. Indeed, the head Willis Asia Adam Garrard predicts that Charles Monat’s expertise and reputation in the HNWI sector will assist Willis to “accelerate our plans to expand our Global Wealth Solutions capabilities to other regions around the world”. These regions include Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
The chief executive of Willis International Tim Wright called the acquisition a “major strategic boost to our existing operations in this space, enabling us to cross-fertilize Willis’s reach and resources with the Charles Monat team’s well-respected presence in Asia”.
In other Willis news, Wright will lead a new global Human Capital and Benefits practice that will unite all the existing employee benefits and related consulting businesses across the company. These businesses comprise pensions and retirement planning, healthcare, group risk and life cover. They also include a range of consultative services such as compliance, data analytics, communications, wellness and human resource consulting.
Wright said that this would enable Willis to “agree growth priorities, both organically and inorganically, and leverage capabilities and best practices across the group”.