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RSA group GC Walsh to depart as rising star Heiss appointed legal chief

Insurance giant RSA’s longstanding group general counsel and company secretary Derek Walsh (pictured) is to leave the company at the end of February after nearly six years, with Charlotte Heiss to succeed him in the new role of chief legal officer and company secretary.

Heiss will join the group executive team and report to chief executive Stephen Hester, while group chief risk officer William McDonnell will assume responsibility for the compliance function.

Managing director for the commercial division, Jon Hancock, will be responsible for RSA’s relationship with the company’s key global insurance brokers.

Walsh, who also served as global broker relationship director, joined the company in 2010 from Argo Group International Holdings. Trained at Norton Rose, he also served as group general counsel at Benfield Group.

Having overseen a 100-strong team spanning legal, compliance and company secretarial, and with a legal spend ranging between £3-£5m annually, excluding claims work, major landmarks during his near six-year stint at RSA include discussions around the group’s ultimately unsuccessful £5bn bid for parts of Aviva’s general insurance business in the UK, Ireland and Canada, and RSA’s £773m rights issue in 2014.

Walsh’s preferred advisers have previously included Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Masons, RPC, and Hogan Lovells. The FTSE 100 company’s global legal panel review was delayed last year following a shake-up of its senior management team which saw Hester, formerly chief executive of The Royal Bank of Scotland, step into the top role in 2014.

Heiss, whose appointment is subject to regulatory approval, featured as a rising star in the Legal Business 2014 GC Power List. Linklaters-trained Heiss joined the company as legal counsel in 2010 and was rapidly promoted to her current position of head of group legal by September 2011.

For more coverage on RSA Group, see Profile: Derek Walsh.