A history of shared values
A strong client focus, an emphasis on teamwork, unwavering integrity, mutual respect and a constant striving for excellence are the values at the core of Willis Towers Watson’s rich history. Many of our clients have been with us from our earliest days. Whether they first came to us for brokerage services or actuarial work, they were met with respect, a strong sense of advocacy and an emphasis on excellence. These values will continue to define our approach to business and our relationship with our clients, now and in the future.
The birth of insurance broking and the actuarial profession
Willis was established in the 1800s by three brokers in London; Henry Willis & Co, Faber Brothers and Dumas & Wylie.
Reuben Watson founded R. Watson & Sons in England, the world’s oldest actuarial firm, to serve the actuarial needs of ‘friendly societies’ (providing health and burial benefits to its members).
Parks Fackler, founder of Towers Watson heritage firm Fackler & Co., was a driving force in the creation of the Actuarial Society of America (ASA), a predecessor of today’s Society of Actuaries.
Establishing ourselves at the forefront of our industries
Willis became the largest insurance broker in the shipping industry and one of their many clients was White Star Line, the owner of RMS Titanic.
Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby was founded, with headquarters in Philadelphia. It initially operated a reinsurance and life division, eventually specializing in pensions, reinsurance brokerage and employee benefit plans.
Adapting to an increasingly connected world
Willis has always been prominent among companies in the Aviation sector and was the reinsurance broker for the unfortunate Hindenburg.
Shell oil was one of Towers Perrin’s first major international clients after WWII. Also, this year the Wyatt Company was founded; an actuarial firm that expanded to health care and compensation.
Willis expanded its footprint into outer space by being the insurance broker for the Lunar Roving Vehicle, known as the “Moon Buggy”.
Willis, Faber & Dumas was included on the London Stock Exchange listing, signifying its status as the leading U.K specialty broker.
Expanding globally and adding capabilities
The Wyatt Company, founded by Wyatt Byrd, was established in Stockholm, Sweden in September 1978.
Willis, Faber & Dumas entered the U.S market as a retail broker through a merger with Corroon & Black, forming Willis Corroon PLC.
Willis Corroon was established in Stockholm, Sweden. During the following years, offices were opened in Göteborg, Malmö, Karlstad and Örebro.
Willis Corroon was founded in Finland. During the period of 1995-2000 the office was located at Pohjoisesplanadi 25 in Helsinki.
An alliance between R. Watson & Sons and the Wyatt Company was formed to create Watson Wyatt Worldwide.
Willis Corroon was privatized following a buyout by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and in 1998 all Willis operations were unified under one name: Willis Group.
Willis Group was returned to public ownership through an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. At that time the Willis Group head office in London was located at the iconic Port of London Authority Building.
Willis Group acquired Hilb Rogal & Hobbs, one of the largest insurance brokers in North America. When consolidating businesses in Chicago, Willis received the naming rights to Sears Tower which was re-named to Willis Tower.
Towers Perrin & Watson Wyatt merged to become Towers Watson.
The new headquarters for Willis in London was inaugurated in the heart of London’s insurance district.The new headquarters for Willis in London was inaugurated in the heart of London’s insurance district.
Willis Group bought a 75 % stake in the leading Swedish pensions and savings advisory firm, Max Matthiessen.
Willis obtained 100 % ownership of Gras Savoye which resulted in the broadest global presence in the industry. During the same year, Towers Watson acquired Saville and Brovada.
Willis Towers Watson was formed by merging Willis Group and Towers Watson.