David Battle: Why Portus is right for Aon

The latest deal in the rapidly consolidating employee benefits consultant sector is last week’s acquisition by Aon of Warwick-based firm Portus Consulting. The firm was founded by Stuart Gray in 2003 and has grown to service 190 employer clients, with a particular focus on delivering benefits propositions to legal firms. The acquisition is expected to be completed by 31st August 2017.

Corporate Adviser’s John Greenwood asks Aon Employee Benefits CEO David Battle what the deal means for both firms, their staff and their clients

CA. What was the motivation for Aon when acquiring Portus Consulting?

DB. We have huge ambitions to continue our growth in the UK employee benefits market, both organically and through acquisition. The reality is that Portus Consulting was one of the best firms on the market, particularly in terms of their client book. Portus brings around 190 employer clients to Aon. The deal enables us to further cement our position in the SME sector.

There are three things that specifically appealed to us. Firstly, the team at Portus, who we write very highly; secondly their strong footprint in the legal sector, which is attractive; and thirdly their customer proposition is broadly similar to our own.

CA. Will there be any loss in headcount as a result of the deal?

DB. We have no plans for job losses – this is very much a growth story.

CA. What will happen to the Portus Consulting name?

DB. This will go fairly soon. Portus will be trading under the Aon Employee Benefits brand relatively quickly.

CA. How will things change for Portus’s existing book of clients as a result of the deal?

DB. As I already mentioned, Portus’s customer proposition is similar to Aon’s. But there is more that Aon can bring to their clients in terms of data analytics, forecasting and delivering an international service.

CA. Does Aon have any plans to deliver individual advice to employees.

DB. We remain very much in the corporate advisory space. We have no plans to move into the individual advice marketplace. However we are happy to advise in relation to members’ options as they save and move towards retirement. Our only area of individual advice is retirement savings. Our Big Blue Touch proposition offers information and analytics and we will look to continue to add functionality for that. I do not think that we will flip a switch one day and say that we are in the robo advice market – we will make incremental changes to what we currently offer.