An established partner in an evolving world

October 29, 2021

Amid an ever-changing commercial environment, secure and trusted support has never been more valuable. And one business offering such is global professional services firm Aon. Providing clients with robust commercial risk, retirement and employee benefit support from its offices in Newcastle and Stockton, the company also utilises specialist national experts to further drive organisations’ market expansion. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to Dan Hopkinson, Aon’s head of office for commercial risk solutions in the North East and Cumbria, to find out more.

The business world has experienced many seismic incidents over decades and centuries past, though few have ever matched the impact of COVID-19.

From the closure of offices and factories to the postponement of countless services and a dramatic halt in economic activity, the pandemic has caused – and continues to deliver – huge disruption to the commercial landscape and the millions employed therein.

In such times, robust, trusted support for organisations has never been more important – and one company delivering just that is leading multinational professional services firm Aon.

From commercial risk solutions to retirement support and help around employee benefits, the business delivers crucial guidance that maximises client performance by reducing exposure to volatility.

And nowhere is this assistance more amplified than at its Newcastle Quayside office and sister Preston Farm industrial estate base, in Stockton, where its 40-plus strong team delivers expert provision to clients that range from sole traders to SMEs and publicly-listed companies (plcs).

“The last two years have really brought into sight how people view risk, and clients are perhaps more reliant on us now than they have been for a generation,” says Dan Hopkinson, Aon’s head of office for commercial risk solutions in the North East and Cumbria.

“Risk remains high on everyone’s agenda; nobody would ever have predicted a global pandemic, and

Brexit has certainly brought its challenges too.
“A lot of businesses needed advice from the first lockdown onwards; some had vehicles off the road because they were told they couldn’t travel, while others had to shut factories down.

“And our Newcastle and Stockton teams were on hand, having switched seamlessly to remote working, to ensure they continued to receive the close help and advice they so critically needed.”
Such support, says Dan, was accentuated by the vast and detailed local knowledge of its regional team, which, over the years, has fostered countless close relationships with clients from Teesside up to the Scottish border and across to Cumbria.

And as the North East emerges from the pandemic, Dan says this long-held commitment will not only endure but grow even stronger.

He says: “The mindset and philosophy of the business, and the people in this region, is that regardless of an organisation’s size, they will always receive the same level of local commitment.

“We are part of a large, global organisation, but we will always have local people on the ground dealing with local businesses.

“That is very important to us, because when we
take a company to market, we must understand that business and its plans so we can clearly articulate them to the insurers.

“If we weren’t here in the area, and therefore didn’t understand the dynamics of the economy, then we wouldn’t be able to do that as effectively.

“But it’s not only the economic dynamics – client dynamics are equally important,” continues Dan.

“On paper, customers can sometimes look the same, but it might be a first generation family running one, and a fourth generation running the other, which means they have completely different dynamics.

“And that is why our client-facing team – and the years of experience it possesses of this region’s companies, its industries and sub-sectors – is so important.”

However, while providing support attuned to the region’s unique industrial topographies, Dan says Aon’s North East team – which works with clients across a broad range of sectors including, but not limited to, construction, manufacturing, food, life sciences and technology – can draw upon specialist teams; the company’s myriad of national and international industry-specific experts.

From specialist construction and cybersecurity guidance to intellectual property assistance, the impact of weather on crop growth and many more areas of focus, Dan says such access futureproofs clients’ operations while securing them fresh market traction.

He says: “The absolute functions of the team are to identify and help clients understand what their risks are, to help them make better decisions.

“And we provide that through detailed data and analytics, while our North East team also includes more than 25 people specialising in mid-market SME businesses across the region.

“Ultimately, it is about managing volatility and we’ve always been a very forward-looking company in that respect.

“We have to be one, two or even three steps ahead because we are clients’ eyes and ears and are out in the market quantifying the exposure they could face.

“And our specialist offering helps us achieve that, because we can tap into a central resource of professionals on a fluid basis, who have the best market intelligence.

“If there is a complicated construction risk issue, for example, we can bring in sector-dedicated specialists to support those already here on the ground.

“But we are able to facilitate growth in other ways too.

“For example, we recently worked with a very innovative small business to help map out where its intellectual property could have an impact across new global markets, and we also completed the UK’s first deal of its kind to help a company raise capital against the value of its intellectual property.”

Dan adds: “This kind of support provides clients with something they’ve never had before; it is very powerful in terms of their growth and all part of our commitment to ensuring our offer constantly evolves to meet their needs in a changing marketplace.

“This region has pushed the boundaries of innovation for centuries, and it is exciting to be supporting North East companies on their future growth journeys.”