Finch's Return to Profitability

Manchester-headquartered UNA Member, Finch Insurance Brokers has reported a 7% rise in turnover to £3.87m for the year ended 31 December 2017.

Operating profit was also up 2% to £487,135 as pre-tax profit nudged up to effectively the same level.

The increases mark a change around from the 2016 results when profits and turnover fell.

At that time group managing director Mike Latham explained that the reductions were due to investments as the firm targeted sustainable growth.

Income

Speaking about the most recent figures Latham told Insurance Age the uptick was consistent with the plan of investing in service and talent.

He noted that new business income had outweighed lapsed clients by a net 9.5%.

“This year we will continue to focus on organic growth and expect to do something similar again,” he said. “But the profitability will be enhanced as the investments were made in 2016 and 2017.”

Mid-market

The company, which places around £38m of gross written premium, specialises in mid-market particularly for hospitality and tech clients typically paying £100,000 to £1m of premium.

Latham said there had been growth “across the board” of property, motor and casualty. He noted that cyber was picking up but was starting from a small base.

The wider group, known as Alec Finch Group, also offers employee benefits and turnover here was also up at £5m (2016: £4.7m).

Double

Latham has previously stated his intention to double the wider group by 2020 and he reiterated the plan.


“We are still planning on £10m by 2020,” he confirmed explaining it would be a mix of organic growth and bolt-on acquisitions. He said he was hopeful of completing at least one deal this year.

The Una and Worldwide Broker Network member was bought by French firm Verlingue in 2007.

Latham came on board in October 2012 having worked at Jelf. He was latterly regional managing director of the North and Midlands having been managing director of Manson Insurance Brokers when it was bought by the consolidator in January 2008.

“Verlingue’s ambition is to be much bigger outside of France than they currently are,” he began.

“The approach is always to invest in their territories and management teams.”

Predictions

Latham admitted to having been “pleasantly surprised” by how much he had enjoyed working with Verlingue.

“I was very clear around… if I was going to take on this project that I would be given the authority and the autonomy to go ahead and do it.

“I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else.”

Looking ahead he predicted 10% organic growth for 2018 and a double digit surge in profitability.

“The [profit] number next year will be even more,” he concluded.

“We have enhanced profitability with investments made throughout 2016 that are beginning to drive through.”

Integro and Tysers Join Forces

        

Following months of negotiations, the FCA has now given formal approval for the acquisition of Tysers by fellow UNA Member, Integro.  The acquisition is Integro’s largest to date and demonstrates the company’s commitment to expand into attractive, specialist insurance markets. The highly compatible business structures and cultures will create an attractive and competitive brokerage, with double the scale.

Integro and Tysers have complementary wholesale capabilities, which will provide opportunities to expand and enhance the businesses client offering – with new solutions and expanded geographic coverage.

Recognising its strong heritage, the combined wholesale business will trade under the Tysers brand and be led by Integro’s current Co-Heads of UK Wholesale, David Abraham and Jason Collins. Tysers’ UK Corporate team members will join Integro’s UK Retail team, overseen by Bob Pybus, Integro’s Head of UK Retail, and trade under the Integro brand.

Founded in 1820, Tysers has successfully grown from a marine trade business to a specialist broker operating internationally in four practice groups - North America, international, reinsurance and marine and specialty. Originally a family firm, Tysers became a private partnership before incorporating in 2001. In 2007, a new generation spearheaded a buyout of Tyser & Co, which led to it being 100 per cent colleague-owned.

Integro, founded in 2005 and owned by Odyssey Investment Partners, LLC, has evolved to become a leading specialty insurance brokerage firm, serving clients in over 125 countries from more than 40 offices across the globe. The business is active in a range of speciality areas, including aviation, benefits consulting, entertainment and sport, financial institutions, healthcare, marine/energy, professional services, real estate/construction; reinsurance; retail/consumer services; and transportation and logistics.

UNA Board Member, Bob Pybus, said: “In addition to their wholesale team, Tysers brings a talented retail team which will improve our ability to serve corporate clients out of London.”

It’s business as usual for both members and their interaction with UNA and our project groups, so we very much look forward to hearing more about the exciting opportunities this opportunity presents.

UNA Three Peaks Challenge 2018

It’s been a busy few months for UNA members, not lease for the intrepid band of walkers and drivers who embarked on the famous Three Peaks Challenge – to conquer the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales – in under 24 hours.

Six teams took part in the challenge, which was part of our 20th anniversary goal to raise £20,000 for Mind and the British Heart Foundation.

 Not a cloud in the sky!

We set off on June 28th with a smile and spring in our step – soon to be brought back down to earth! A heatwave isn’t something we normally have to worry about in the UK but, as we hit the slopes of Ben Nevis, it was declared the hottest day in Scotland for over 100 years! Ben Nevis has a large number of false summits, so when you think you’re nearly there, you realise there’s another climb around the corner. However, the first teams were back down in just under five and a half hours.

Next on the horizon was Scafell Pike in the Lake District – to be tackled in the dark, just to make it even more challenging. Progress was quick for most, with teams making up for the lost time on Ben Nevis. The speediest completed it in just over three and half hours.

By the time we reached the third peak of Mount Snowdon, those still in the running to complete the challenge within 24 hours had just around four hours left. Our teams were battling physical exhaustion from the intense exercise, heat, minor injuries, aches and pains, and a lack of sleep.

I’m delighted to say we had two teams who completed the challenge within the set timeframe – they even ran back down Snowdon to make sure they beat the clock! The first reached the finish line in 23 hrs 45 mins, with the next team just seven minutes behind.

We’d like to wish a huge congratulations to Barrie McCarthy and Greg Edwards from Thomas Carroll, Will Meyer from Sutton Winson and Susan Battersby from T L Dallas who were first home. They were closely followed by Neil Hobbs and Marc Hancock from Sutton Winson, Vikki Rowell of Ryans and Chris Jackson of Integro.

Our efforts have raised nearly £13,000 for our two charities, so a huge congratulations to everyone who took part on the day, as well those who have supported us. Our Justgiving page will be live until our conference in November when we will hopefully have smashed our target.

A special mention must go to Susan Battersby, for whom this was a particularly personal challenge. Rather poignantly for Susan, she started her climb on Ben Nevis exactly three years to the day that she was admitted to a mental health facility, to begin her long journey to recovery. Clearly she has proved to herself that, three years on, she had the strength to conquer this very demanding challenge, and that she has made huge progress in this time. If ever there was a reason for raising funds, it’s personal stories like this, that make a challenge like this all the more worthwhile.

  Teamworking in full swing!

 

BIBA Launches Standardised TOBA

UNA Executive Chairman, Tim Ryan has hailed the launch of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association’s (Biba) standardised Toba template.

According to the trade body taking up the template will save 80 working hours, reduce bureaucracy and increase productivity.

“The absolute logic is that driving out frictional cost and bureaucracy has to be a good thing,” Ryan summed up.

Ryan, also a Biba main board member and chairman of its Toba committee, told Insurance Age that the association had spent two years on the project.

Versatility
It canvassed views from across the market including large and small brokers, insurers of all sizes and the Association of British Insurers to build the new offering and provide a standardised template which covers 70% of the usual content.

“The final output allows versatility which deals with any arguments that anyone might have about a Toba creating some sort of competitive advantage,” he argued noting the template allowed for addendums or the insertion of unique pieces of information.

He also countered the view that the document might end up gathering dust on shelves and argued it should be utilised by all but accepted it might be a long campaign.

“We understand that we are putting a marker down and changing how things have operated for a considerable period of time,” he admitted. “It is a long burn rather than an instant impact.”

Antiquated
Ryan is the executive chairman of UNA Member Ryan’s in Ipswich, a mid-sized provincial broker with over 200 Tobas including instances of different parts of the business having different Tobas with the same insurer.

“I cannot imagine that a small broker with a similar number of Tobas would have the resource or understanding to check every Toba that they are signing,” he continued.

According to him the body of work had shown that there was a need for greater understanding in the market to ensure contractual commitments are fair.

As part of the development the committee scrutinised numerous Tobas and Ryan criticised the way that many had evolved into “antiquated documents”.

“Some of them are very poorly written,” he maintained.

“The meaning and fairness of the documents get lost in the ether, they get very complicated.”

Feedback
The final published outcome has been delivered after numerous iterations of the document and constantly liaising with partners and legal counsel for feedback.

Ryan said he was keen for further feedback predicting “insurers will want to pore over” the document.

“We have to keep the momentum going, keep the committee going, review and respond to any issues that arise,” he said.

And while repeating that it would not be a “light switch” moment with instant change he predicted “significant take up over the next two to three years”.

Explaining: “Over a period of time I am expecting this to gain traction.

“Logic dictates to me that if we are driving out frictional costs from trading business with our partners and creating transparency for the brokers signing these Tobas… it brings in simplicity to everything that we do.”

Lunacy
Biba is committed to promoting the new voluntary Toba, which is valid for commercial and personal lines, to insurer partners, networks and managing general agents as well as its members.

The launch represented the delivery of a 2018 manifesto commitment and Ryan, in his capacity with UNA, will also personally be asking all partners to consider using it.

“I think brokers will fully support what we are trying to do. That the manifesto point has been acted upon and delivered is very positive for the members.”

And concluded: “I cannot imagine anyone wanting to resist this, it would be lunacy.”

BRUCE STEVENSON RAISES £11,000 FOR FARESHARE SCOTLAND

Founding UNA Member and one of Scotland’s largest independent insurance brokers, Bruce Stevenson has raised over £11,000 for its chosen charity, FareShare Scotland.

With over 90 staff across offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Borders, Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers committed to donating 2% of its annual profits in 2017 to FareShare Scotland. Alongside this, Bruce Stevenson staff have undertaken a variety of fundraising activities including a 72-mile charity cycle, led by their Corporate Ambassador, Mark Beaumont.

FareShare Scotland collects good quality, in date surplus food from retailers and producers then redistributes it to more than 476 charities and community groups to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Scotland. The food is transformed into nourishing meals for those in women’s refuges, homeless shelters and breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children.

The charity is now reaching an average of 38,590 people per week. There are four regional centres across Scotland in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. Each of these centres is run with a regionally based delivery partner, with the depot providing a centre for working with young people or support volunteers. The delivery partners also offer additional assistance in the form of employability training, mentoring and emotional support. In 2017, FareShare supported 6,273 frontline charities providing 28.6 million meals across the UK.

Edward Bruce, CEO of Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, said: “..In 2017, we decided to focus our fundraising efforts on one dedicated charity, which was when we partnered with FareShare. There are families in our local communities who are going hungry on a nightly basis and the reality is that there are incredible levels of wastage with food products.
“Our teams have worked hard this year to raise funds to support FareShare’s positive impact. From baking to cycling and running half marathons, it’s been fantastic to see how much effort everyone has put in to help contribute to FareShare’s incredible work.
“The charity really is making a difference to so many lives across the country by working with communities, charities and businesses to deliver resources where they’re vitally needed.”

Gillian Kynoch, Head of FareShare in Scotland, said: “..FareShare in Scotland is enormously grateful to Bruce Stevenson and their staff for their very generous support and effort on our behalf. We are experiencing ever-increasing demand from charities across Scotland. These front line charities and community groups provide a safety net for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Last year we redistributed nearly 2000 tonnes of surplus food; providing four million meals in Scotland. We hope to invest this funding into additional chiller and freezer capacity to help us redistribute even more food in 2018.”
The decision to appoint FareShare Scotland as its dedicated charity underlines the broker’s commitment to support good causes in local communities.

For more information on FareShare Scotland, please visit www.fareshare.org.uk or visit www.brucestevenson.co.uk.