Asked to highlight his experience in mergers and acquisitions, Andy Watts doesn’t need to weigh and measure the many deals that he has helped to execute over his three-decade-long finance career. Instead, Watts quickly points to the 2000s, when, as CFO of a division of Thomson Reuters, he sold off businesses responsible for nearly half of his division’s $120 million in annual revenues—a respectable feat that is perhaps even more impressive in light of the four new businesses that his division acquired during this same 12-month period.Read More
“I got a really good frontline view of how to do M&As, and while I stubbed my toe on a number of them in the process, in the end we had them running like a Swiss watch and knew exactly how we were going to get the value out of them,” remembers Watts, whose 12-year career at Thomson included something of a surprise chapter that he now credits with having helped to open the door to an operations role.
“I was sitting in a business review, and I began ‘barking on’ about how we were treating our customers—so the division president turned to me and said, ‘Okay, why don’t you go fix it?,'” recalls Watts, who notes that his initial response was to try to step on the career break.
Says Watts: “I said, ‘No, wait!’ But then she responded, ‘There is no one else who has expressed that level of passion about our customers and the experience that they deserve.’”
Over the coming years, Watts would oversee the company’s customer onboarding processes and the relationship management interactions that governed Thomson’s customer experience. Looking back at the role that afforded him the title of Global Head of Customer Administration, Thomson Reuters, Watts realizes that this experience allowed him to complete his eventual trek to the CFO office. In 2014, he would leave Thomson and step into the CFO office at Brown & Brown, where a transformative acquisition was in short order added to the menu. –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: What type of business is this … what does it do, and what are its offerings?
Watts: Brown & Brown is a large, diversified, insurance broker and risk advisor that does a number of things. We help to place coverage on behalf of companies or individuals for property and casualty coverage or employee benefits. We also run a wholesale business, which is for placement of high risk, such as high steel erection—yep, this is risky because if you’re climbing around up there, things can happen. Or take a condo sitting down in Miami—the normal, traditional, insurance markets won’t ensure that, so we have a division that will do all of these placements. We also have a business that we call National Programs, which is all about managing general agencies. The best way to think about this is to see us as a virtual insurance company. We just don’t hold any risk on our balance sheet.Read More
We’re the largest writer of flood insurance in the country. We’re the largest writer of earthquake insurance on the West Coast, behind the California Earthquake Authority. We write somewhere around 30% to 35% of the professional liability for all of the dentists in the United States. We run these programs and distribute them out to other retail agents. We also have a services division.
We’ve been in operation for 82 years. We started here in Daytona Beach, and now we’re the fifth largest insurance broker in the U.S. and sixth largest in the world. We’ve got operations in 43 different states. We’re over in Ireland, in the UK, up in Canada, and in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. We have just been continuing to grow the business not only through a tremendous amount of M&A over the years, but also organically. Great, great business—wonderful culture.
“Build a great network, have mentor, get tons of varied experiences within many industries and functions, learn the business, be inquisitive, be a learner, have fun on the journey, and—most important—build great teams.” –Andy Watts, CFO, Brown & Brown
Brown & Brown | www.bbinsurance.com | Daytona Beach, FL