Aon moves global headquarters from Chicago to London

22 February 2012

Aon has announced that it is going to relocate its headquarters from Chicago in the U.S. to London in the United Kingdom. The main reason for the move - also known as corporate inversion - is the benefit of a lower overall tax burden. According to a company statement, Aon's tax rate could fall from 30% to 26%. Only about 20 employees, including CEO Greg Case (ex McKinsey partner) and about half of the company's leadership team will pack up their things to run the insurance broker and consulting firm from across the pond. More than 6,000 other employees will remain working in Chicago.


Surprise to employees and management

According to reports in the U.S. the move has come as a surprise to many within the firm. Aon has its roots deep in the Chicago region, when Ryan Insurance Group merged with Combined International Corporation. The firm was led by founder Pat Ryan until 2005, when Ryan and the rest of the board appointed Greg Case as the new global CEO. Case worked for over 15 years at McKinsey & Company and was the global head of the Financial Services practice. Several employees, including top managers, openly criticized the firm for deciding to leave its roots. The board of directors also was not unanimous in their decision. In its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Aon acknowledged that it could face bad publicity because of the move and that "such negative coverage could make some of our clients, particularly those in the U.S., reluctant to do business with us."

Three reasons for relocation

In a press statement, Aon gave three reasons for the relocation. Firstly, a lower tax rate: "A reduction in our global tax rate over the long-term would allow Aon to remain competitive," Aon said. Also mentioned is that the move will improve liquidity. By relocating, Aon has access to $300 million of excess cash abroad. "If Aon moved the cash here, it would be subject to U.S. taxes" said William Henson, a tax expert. Thirdly, the move also gives Aon "greater access to emerging markets and takes better advantage of the strategic proximity to Lloyd's and the London financial market" according to Greg Case.


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Fast growing consultancy Step5 rebrands for next growth phase

18 January 2019

Innovative transformation consultancy Step5 has completed a rebranding of its corporate identity as it looks to push forward with rapid growth into a fifth successive year. CEO Howard Dickel told why the change in image is so important, and how the consultancy as a whole has grown in recent years.

Step5 was established in 2010 by co-founders Clive Fenton (current Chairman) and Jim Berrisford (incumbent COO). In 2014, the firm’s present CEO Howard Dickel joined, a year before Step5 hit £1 million in turnover. Building on that, for the past four years Step5 has enjoyed growth of more than 30%, and now boasts more than £1 billion in programme budgets managed and an expanding team of over 60 consultants.

Dickel took up the top job at the company last year, and is now keen to kick on from the firm’s recent success, particularly after Step5’s recent rebranding. The new brand identity was developed with creative agency gt&i, and aims to capture the essence of the business today. Step5’s CEO believes this essence is “quietly confident, with an inner strength”, thanks to a diversity of unique skills among the firm’s talent, enabling Step5 teams to constantly innovate and surprise clients. According to Dickel, the rebrand marks the next stage in the company’s development, supporting Step5’s aim to compete on a world stage.

Fast growing consultancy Step5 rebrands for next growth phaseExplaining the firm’s new identity further, Dickel told, “High value, high cost strategic consultancy provides insight but leaves the challenge of implementation.  Step5’s strength lies in bridging the gap.  We work closely with our clients to develop and deliver complex business transformation projects and get failing projects back on track.  In the words of our new strapline: Together we can.”

Step5 is one of the UK’s fastest growing business transformation consultancies, and as with many new competitors in the professional services sector, aims to offer clients an alternative to the Big Four. As is the case with other firms looking to do this, Step5 differentiates itself from the quartet’s ‘impersonal’ approach by working to develop a trusted partner relationship with clients and drive change from within companies.

Long-term ambitions

In order to tackle this challenge, Step5 remains on the look-out for forward-thinking individuals, whether already working in the sector or looking for something new. In the long term, its ambition is to grow within the private sector, and in particular the FTSE 250 companies, and to reach its target of £20 million in turnover by 2020.

Among clients already tapping into Step5’s services are the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Barclays, Experian, Serco and Sopra Steria, among others. As well as building a reputation in the private sector, Step5 consultants have worked on some of the UK’s most challenging public and private sector initiatives – including the £1 billion recovery of the spine programme for the NHS and management and delivery of all telecommunications for the London 2012 Olympics.


According to Dickel, recent engagements are particularly encouraging for the firm moving forward. Lately, the firm supported a leading bank’s move into the £32 billion UK motor finance market, and worked to deliver a complex organisational transformation programme for the world’s leading information services company to better support its strategic goals and deliver savings across all services.

Dickel added, “We also transformed an internal IT function for a European leader in digital transformation, including people, process, operating model and market positioning. This has provided them with a robust, industry best practice function that delivered savings across the company and increased the internal IT capability from an Application, Infrastructure and Management perspective.”

Reflecting once more on the rebrand, he concluded, “Step5 offers clients an alternative to the Big Four consultancies – and it is recognised by its clients as the people who make complex business transformation projects happen... Step5 has grown and developed over the years. The company has come a long way and now it’s time to transform itself to reflect that.”