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Willis Towers Watson – Brexit Readiness

Published on 26 April 2019

The UK is currently scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) by no later than 31 October 2019, at which point it will become a third country that sits outside the EU. From that date (or, if the UK leaves the EU on the basis of an agreed "Withdrawal Agreement", following any period of transition that forms part of that agreement), some of the existing arrangements between the UK and EU may no longer be viable. This will impact the services currently provided by our EU and UK businesses to clients in those territories.

As a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, Willis Towers Watson provides services to a variety of sectors, including two core regulated sectors which require defined and separate solutions, being its Broking and Investment businesses. Willis Towers Watson also has a broad spectrum of business outside of its core regulated financial services businesses, and all may be subject to the general impact of Brexit – particularly in the UK such as tax, travel, data, workforce and other impacts. We continue to monitor the progress being made on the political negotiations and the advice being issued by UK and EU governments in order to maintain robust plans to provide continuity of service to all clients.

Willis Towers Watson Brexit Broking Solution

Willis Towers Watson SA/NV, our Belgian broking subsidiary, will provide the key post-Brexit platform for EU broking clients, with our reinsurance business also servicing some client business through its existing European operations. Central to the platform is the establishment of an FCA-authorised UK branch of the Belgian business. This is in addition to the company’s existing extensive EU operations. Our primary aim is to provide continuity of service and seamless transition for our clients, regardless of location or the final Brexit outcome. Willis Towers Watson is well positioned to support European and UK clients through any changes required by Brexit given our broad footprint across Europe and strong presence in the UK. We remain committed to helping our clients around the world understand and navigate the impact of Brexit and ensure they have a seamless client experience without disruption.

Broking Client FAQs

  • Is Willis Towers Watson planning for a Hard Brexit?
    Willis Towers Watson established a Brexit programme in mid-2017 in order to implement the appropriate future regulatory, structural and operating models to allow our business to operate optimally post-Brexit. This planning has always been on the basis of a hard Brexit.
  • Why Belgium?
    Willis Towers Watson has a broad European footprint with offices in many European countries. Belgium was one of a number of locations carefully considered against a range of factors to form the core of our Brexit platform for broking businesses and was selected following that evaluation. While Belgium will be key to the servicing of the impacted business post Brexit, all of our European operations will have a part to play in continuing to service our clients in accordance with their needs.
  • Does this post Brexit solution apply to all Willis Towers Watson clients, including insurance and reinsurance clients?
    Our solution applies to relevant EU27/EEA broking clients whose business is currently serviced by Willis Limited, including the Corporate Risk & Broking and Willis Re businesses.
  • What will change for clients?
    Our primary aim is to provide continuity of service and seamless transition for our clients so where possible, things will remain as they are pre-Brexit, however some change due to Brexit is unavoidable. We are already in contact with any impacted clients.
  • What exactly will change/move to Belgium or other locations post Brexit?
    The primary aim is always to provide continuity of service and seamless transition for our clients, regardless of location or the final Brexit outcome. We will aim to keep disruption to clients to a minimum by enabling them to continue accessing existing resources and expertise whilst also being supported by our broad EU network of locations and expertise. Our Brexit model involves the transfer of the company’s relevant portfolio currently serviced by Willis Limited to our Belgian operation, supported as needed by the company’s other European operations.  Transfer will take place once the final and form of Brexit is clear.

Willis Towers Watson Brexit Investment Solutions

Willis Towers Watson provides a variety of Investment solutions to its clients, including Delegated Funds and Investment Advisory services through a number of subsidiary companies. The Brexit solutions in place for these businesses include new regulatory permissions, structures and operating models providing continuity of service to clients. Additionally, these are supported by solutions being addressed at a pan-European or country regulator level, such as the Memorandum of Understanding put in place between the EU and UK enabling continuity of fund management services, and the temporary permissions or contract continuity regimes.

Investment Client Q&As

  • Will Willis Towers Watson be able to continue to distribute Irish funds to its UK clients?
    Towers Watson Investment Management (Ireland) Limited has registered all of its current Irish funds under the FCA’s Temporary Permissions Regime (TPR) which enables registered funds to continue to be marketed in the UK for up to 3 years post Brexit.
  • Will Towers Watson Investment Management (Ireland) Limited be able to continue to delegate portfolio management to Towers Watson Investment Management Ltd?
    The CBI (Ireland) and the FCA have agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the event of a hard Brexit which permits Irish management companies to continue to delegate portfolio management to UK based portfolio managers.
  • Will Towers Watson be able to provide Investment solutions to EU based clients?
    At present our EU clients are serviced by our network of EU based affiliates. Part of that network includes a German branch of TW UK Ltd. Under a hard Brexit this will no longer be permitted. To mitigate this Towers Watson is establishing a German based company to take the place of the German branch in the distribution network for providing investment services and solutions to EU clients.
  • What will change for clients?
    For UK clients there will be no change as the TPR and MoU will enable continuity of service. For clients currently serviced by our German branch, these clients will, post Brexit, be serviced by the new German company (Gmbh) and will experience a seamless transition. Other EU clients may need to enter into arrangements with a different entity but will experience the same high quality services that they currently experience under similar terms of business.

Willis Towers Watson Securities Business Q&As

  • Will Willis Towers Watson Securities Europe Limited (WTWSEL) be able to continue to distribute Securities products to European Investors?
    WTWSEL will lose its current passporting rights into the EU. Future services will be provided through Towers Watson Netherlands BV, an established business operating in the Netherlands already engaged in the distribution of financial products. The entity has the regulatory permissions to distribute securities products, such as Insurance Linked Securities, across a number of European jurisdictions.