Aon launches stock award scheme tied to renewed growth drive

Aon has launched a firm-wide stock-based award scheme directly linked to its growth as it looks to align employees with its renewed positioning and strategy two months after the termination of the Willis Towers Watson combination.

Aon – Ryder Cup

The move comes after the company took another step forward on its path as a standalone firm with a new visual identity and website as well as an updated business proposition that positions the firm as being “in the business of better decisions”, supporting clients as they face evolving risks and heightened volatility. It also announced a new Ryder Cup partnership which included the introduction of the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award.

The newly announced Aon United Growth Ownership Plan is described as a “one-time, stock-based award that enables all Aon colleagues to share in the current and future success of our Aon United mission”, the company said in a statement to staff.

Through the programme, staff across the entirety of Aon will receive either stock options or cash-settled performance units, the value of which will be determined by the broker’s growth as a company.

“The plan grants colleagues of all title levels, from Aon apprentices to senior executives, an equal award,” the company explained.

In a note to colleagues, Aon CEO Greg Case stated that the firm’s three values - Committed, United and Passionate - drive the firm forward.

“As we ask you to commit to living these values, we are also excited to recognise the role you have played and will play in growing our firm,” the executive said after launching the new plan.

The prospect of an award scheme that aligns employees with the firm’s Aon United growth strategy had been flagged in the immediate aftermath of the breakdown of the WTW deal.

The company’s CFO Christa Davies said at the time of its second quarter results: “Given the outstanding work our colleagues have done over the last 16 months, we’ve taken steps internally to ensure our colleagues share in the growth potential of the firm going forward.”

Those would include employees that had previously been offered retention bonuses in connection with the combination, she added, as the firm said it will take $350mn to $400mn of additional charges in Q3 as part of a “clean break” from the terminated deal.

Employee engagement

Aon is thought to have been engaging with its employees to re-emphasise the purpose of the firm and how its Aon United strategy is being enhanced and accelerated post WTW to drive the firm through its next phase of growth.

A variety of internal sources at the firm have said that Aon has been focused on a major internal rollout in advance of the public unveiling of its proposition, including the development of a variety of new tools that connect the positioning to its Aon United strategy and are designed to help colleagues communicate the message to clients.

The internal and external approaches are designed to further commercialise the Aon United strategy which is being executed operationally through the so-called Aon United Blueprint.

The broker had already responded quickly to the disappointment by unveiling a new executive committee across four solutions, five regions and five shared service functions, to drive its Aon United Blueprint.

And as reported last week, Aon has also revamped its client-facing website with video content illustrating its positioning as an adviser and solutions provider, along with a new visual identity.

The video content covers key areas of focus including building a resilient workforce, rethinking access to capital, navigating new forms of volatility such as emerging risks, and addressing the underserved by closing the protection gap.

The steps are likely to be pitched as being integrally connected to Aon’s coordinated strategy as it goes on the front foot after the uncertainty of recent months.