Below are examples of some interesting projects we've had the pleasure of being involved with:
New MGA - Northern Branch
We were approached by the Head of Underwriting from a well-known insurer in Leeds. The lady in question and her team were highly experienced and well regarded in the market, but disillusioned with some of the bureaucracy within their current organisation. They craved more autonomy and were attracted to the prospect of running their own business. We sat down with the team and all agreed that they should either set up a new MGA, or establish a regional branch for an existing MGA. Given our experience in this field, we immediately advised them of the risks and challenges associated with setting up a new MGA, so they decided that the best option for them was to 'bolt on' to an existing firm. We analysed their risk appetite, technical underwriting expertise, existing broker relationships and just as importantly, their trading style. We then recommended a number of our existing MGA contacts who we knew would benefit from a presence in the North, and where there would be synergy with trading styles. We submitted a short list of interested companies to this underwriting team and arranged confidential interviews. After a number of meetings, both parties decided to join forces and we understand that the new team is making a great success of their new branch, where they now enjoy far more autonomy and lucrative profit shares.
Board Director – Leading IFA Practice
Following an extensive review of their business, an award-winning large regional IFA practice identified the need for an additional Sales & Marketing focussed Board Director, to implement and enhance its 5 year growth plan. This was to be the most senior, external appointment the business had ever undertaken and so it approached Aston Charles for assistance. We held detailed discussions with the existing board members, where we drilled down into the job specification, person specification, and just as importantly, the culture and ethos of the business. Armed with this in-depth information, combined with our own market knowledge, we very quickly identified an extensive list of prospective candidates. We proactively and confidentially headhunted each individual, establishing their suitability and appetite for such a challenging, yet rewarding new role. Once common ground had been established, we sat down with the suitable candidates one by one, interviewing them meticulously in order to further test their credentials and commitment. After thorough consultation with our client, and careful consideration of each candidate, we submitted a very strong shortlist of 6, which our client then interviewed themselves in order to establish a final 3. Following the last round of interviews, our client was quick to point out that they would have happily offered the position to any of the 3 candidates, before successfully appointing the incumbent Director. Having had the time to initiate and then implement his own ideas, the Director further enhanced the successful team around him, and is well on track to achieving growth objectives.
Business Acquisition – Aviation Insurance
Through reports in the industry press we became aware that the CEO of a Lloyd’s broker felt that a specialist Aviation Team was possibly the only ‘missing piece of the jigsaw’ from his organisation. This prompted one of our Directors, who had previously worked on several standalone Aviation Account Executive appointments, to recall a snippet of market information that a contact had shared about an unsettled team of Aviation Specialists. We called the CEO to offer our assistance in a potential team move and used our network of contacts to collect the numbers of the Head of the Aviation Team in question, as well as those at a number of competing brokers. Ultimately several teams expressed an interest in exploring things further, so we scrutinised all of their business models and cultures, eventually presenting the CEO with a shortlist of 2 that matched his criteria. Interestingly, the team we were originally recommended to approach were not appointed. Instead, as a result of our investigations, our client was able to secure a larger team from a specialist operator that was prepared to sell its entire Aviation portfolio. As such, instead of the ‘Team Move’ assignment anticipated by all parties, we were able to facilitate a straightforward transfer of employees together with the portfolios that they controlled between the firms.
Senior Investment Manager – Return to Financial Services
We were approached by a Senior Investment Manager, that we knew well, who having been made redundant some 8 months ago, had set up his own business away from the industry, which had long since been an ambition of his. Although successful in his new venture, he soon realised that he missed his old role in financial services; especially the long-standing relationships he’d developed with his clients. On meeting with him, we discussed at length his key drivers in terms of potential new employers, as well as identifying his main strengths and areas of expertise. We also analysed his long-standing client bank, and how this was distributed, along with his extensive professional connections. From this, we identified a number of our existing Investment Management clients who would be a good match for his requirements, whilst also developing relationships with new firms. Following several interviews with a number of select firms, the candidate found the perfect environment to develop his career, and the client found a great asset to further enhance their budding reputation. Importantly, we were able to negotiate an incentivising remuneration package for the successful candidate, rewarding him for playing a pivotal role in the development of a new area for our IM client.
Insurance Team Move – Hospitality
We were approached by the Unit Director of a 12 person specialist broking team, recognised as market leaders within the Hospitality niche. Although part of a general brokerage he had built a lucrative and well-respected ‘business within a business’ and was passionate about what he had achieved. But to us he expressed some concerns about the long-term security of the parent business. So our brief was simple – to identify a brokerage that had the appetite, funds and insurer relationships to move the Hospitality Team en-mass, and set up a profitable new division. There were a number of factors to consider; from ensuring that no party breached contractual obligations to the current broker, to managing a variety of stakeholders’ expectations including differing start dates and varying equity stakes for key personnel. Making discreet enquiries, we were able to recommend a select list of insurance brokerages who we felt would make a suitable ‘new home’ for the team. With the candidates’ blessing, we targeted the CEO’s / MD’s of these brokers, and (upon the signing of NDA’s) were able to organise several confidential meetings. The team were quick to identify which brokerage shared the best cultural fit, and supported by Aston Charles, all parties were able to negotiate personal terms that were to everyone’s satisfaction. Within several months the first tranche of employees had joined the new organisation.
Establishing a Broking ‘Centre of Excellence’
We were contacted by a leading insurance brokerage who wanted to establish a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in the North for its personal lines and SME offering. It was essential that any new employees had the right balance between strong leadership and technical ability, to be able to fully support the business through a period of large scale change. Using our knowledge of the local market and extensive candidate network, we identified numerous individuals who matched the role profiles and demonstrated personality traits in line with the core values of the company. The Placements included Sales Advisers, Account Handlers, Technical Brokers and an Operations Manager. Furthermore, as a direct result of our understanding of roles outside of the general insurance market, we also helped to speculatively source additional key staff for the business in areas including Administration, IT and Finance.
Claims Strategy Manager – Speculative Search
We made contact with a senior individual within the claims market who we learnt was seeking a new opportunity and met to discuss their complex and varied skill-set to gain a deeper understanding of their career to date. We approached companies speculatively, as we were not aware of any ‘live’ vacancies in the market that suited this person’s unique skill-set. We produced a tailored CV to highlight what we understood to be their main strengths and achievements within their specific niche market. We were particularly keen to speak to one company who we knew would benefit from this person’s expertise in order to achieve their own long-term growth plans. Even though the CEO was abroad on annual leave, our relationship was such that he trusted our judgement so we messaged him and he promptly responded. A meeting was arranged for as soon as he landed in the U.K. After several discussions, where clear synergy was identified between both parties, the candidate swiftly joined the firm. Since then they have thoroughly enjoyed being given the autonomy to set up a new division, which we understand is going from strength to strength, boasting a market-leading offering. We are also delighted to hear that their hard work, commitment and dedication have been recognised and that they have recently joined the Board as Operating Director.