See how WTW’s Jay Berg builds brilliant risk management teams


Specializing in mergers and acquisitions gives Jay Berg a broad view of his team members.

When clients praise Jay Berg, he’s quick to explain that his work couldn’t be done without the help of his team. And his team extends beyond just his colleagues at Willis Towers Watson, and even beyond the customer to include carriers and in some cases even the customer’s other brokers.

“I’m a risk manager turned broker,” Berg said, “and I understand how important it is to level the playing field for the client. I believe in long-term relationships, which means being able to work with many people for the ultimate benefit of the client.

This expanded vision of collaboration takes on another dimension during mergers and acquisitions, an area of ​​expertise for Berg.

“Who is the M&A team?” Berg asked. “It’s the seller and the buyer and their lawyers and the lenders and their lawyers. And seller’s brokers and carriers, and buyer’s brokers and carriers.

Berg is also careful to note that “sometimes my client runs the business, and sometimes he’s in on it. Even when my client is in the passenger seat, I still have to meet my client’s goals as part of the overall transaction. People, balance sheets and operations all need to be protected throughout and after the process. In mergers and acquisitions, this not only means purchase and sale agreements, but also liquidations and continuous hedging. »

It also means particularly diligent gap analysis of moving targets. “How do the trickle-downs fit in with ongoing or new programs?” Berg explained.

“Offers can change, prices can change, escrow amounts can change. current costs and assets changing hands Some carriers don’t want certain exposures We always try to work with carriers who have both capability and appetite.

Jay Berg, Executive Vice President and Global Client Advocate, Willis Towers Watson

And there should always be a contingency plan in case the deal is delayed. This was the case for PNM Resources, a regulated utility owned by investors in New Mexico and Texas. “Last year was very difficult for our organization,” said Rebecca Tafoya, head of insurance and risk.

“We expected to merge in 2021, and Jay expected to lose count as our program was integrated into the new company.

But Berg was a risk manager in his past and understands the challenges of navigating mergers and acquisitions.

“Despite this prospect, he and his team managed our renewal as well as several other major projects,” Tafoya continued. “There were a lot of moving parts and they never missed a deadline. They did everything and made me look good. Now the merge has been extended through 2023, and we’re grateful to have Jay another year.

One of the additional projects detailed by Tafoya was a big boost to its Employment Practices Liability (EPL) coverage.

“Our incumbent has decided not to renew. Instead of scrambling just to find another underwriter, Jay took it upon himself to create a brand new EPL tower and have it placed at comparable costs, terms and conditions.

Berg is originally from Miami. He began his studies at the University of Miami and finished at Florida International University with concentrations in international business and marketing. He started working in the late 1980s at AMP, Inc., a major manufacturer of cables, motherboards, and Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

“The job took me from the east coast to the west coast,” Berg recounted, “where, during the 1990-91 recession, I was laid off. I took a ‘opportunity as a management trainee’ which turned out to be in claims at State Farm, where I rose through the ranks to run their West Coast region.

One of his clients liked Berg’s work so much that he was invited to join the California Federal Bank, San Francisco, which at the time was the second largest savings institution behind the expertise and responsibility for building Washington Mutual. He was there until it was acquired by Citigroup, after which Berg joined San Diego-based Gateway Computers as a risk manager.

“From the beginning, Willis was a broker for CalFed and Gateway,” Berg said.

“In 2003, I was recruited to Gateway to join Willis in New York, back on the East Coast. I moved to Atlanta in 2005 – becoming a Customer Advocate, eventually becoming a Global Customer Advocate (GCA ) in 2015.

“Being GCA allows me to be a risk manager again. I love helping my team implement risk management programs and getting hands-on. »

Berg credits two important mentors in his life.

“First, my father, Edward. He was and still is a big part of my life, especially how I conduct myself in business: hard work and listening. My mentor at Willis was Wayne Herrington, a former regional chief of Willis operations in the South He helped me understand the political environment in and around business.

Berg’s wife, Abbie, is an underwriter for Safety National. They have four children and live outside of Atlanta but often return to New York, especially to see Broadway shows.

They also try to visit Europe every two years. In between, their activities range from regional cycling to cruising. They also frequent the beaches of the Gulf of Florida and Mexico.

Berg is an avid and eclectic reader. Several recent books he recommends include Derek Beck’s The War Before Independence and Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork, about being a sommelier. &

Gregory DL Morris is a freelance business journalist currently based in New York with 25 years of experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected]

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