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Jensten Group discusses a whirlwind month for the business

Jensten Group discusses a whirlwind month for the business | Insurance Business

Jensten Group discusses a whirlwind month for the business

For many insurance businesses across the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has been a time to focus on maintaining operations while retaining customers. For others, however, this time has been one to rejuvenate their strategic direction and to set their sights on winning new business as the boundaries of a post-coronavirus world slowly edge into view.

The London-headquartered broking and insurance group, Jensten Group, has found itself firmly in the latter of these two categories, making two acquisitions in July alone as well as welcoming a new CEO earlier this month. Alistair Hardie, who will be taking up the position of chief executive in early August, subject to regulatory approval, has noted his delight in joining the group and in working with them to make Jensten “the only logical home for specialist brokers.”

Speaking with Insurance Business on the developments the business has seen since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the MD of Jensten Wholesale, Simon Taylor (pictured), noted that each of these changes is in-line with the group’s ongoing strategy of combining organic and acquisition-driven growth. Hardie is such an exciting addition to the team, he said, as he brings with him so much experience in building and driving successful strategic development. Hardie has bought and sold businesses and built them up from scratch, and now he will be lending his expertise to the team carrying out this work at Jensten.

Taylor noted that the common factor which has driven all the movement within the group both prior to the lockdown and now, during the ongoing crisis, has been the emphasis on finding an outstanding cultural fit. Looking to the recent acquisition of the wholesale and retail broker Senior Wright Limited, he outlined how the purchase began with the introduction of the two businesses quite a while back and detailed the care that both businesses took to ensure that their culture and their purpose were highly aligned.

Read more: Jensten Group reveals Senior Wright Limited acquisition

“We went on a few dates and decided that we liked each other. And then we entered the due diligence period, which involved a lot of analysis and lawyers and advisors, and made sure that everything was right,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit for us. And it has taken a number of months, but everybody is very happy. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to say to all the staff there, that they are all wanted and everybody is going to come across, which is a great news story during the COVID crisis.”

Since the acquisition of Senior Wright, Jensten has also received regulatory approval to acquire 100% of the share capital of HTC Associates Limited, a purchase which is expected to complete at the end of July 2020. But whichever opportunity the group is looking at, what it wants from a cultural fit perspective remains the same.

“We are looking for people who want to carry on growing and who are self-starters that will muck in and work across the teams,” Taylor said. “Of course, there are structures and organigrams and making sure the regulatory parts are right. But it means going beyond that to having people willing to say ‘OK, I might be in this team, but I can help this team over here’. And it was really obvious that they had that attitude at Senior Wright.

“And I think what they liked about us was that very early on, before any lawyers got involved, we were able to look them in the eye and guarantee that we will keep the staff on and really that was said on the first date that we had. It was the first thing I agreed with Mike Griffin [the MD], because the staff were really important to him. So, being able to be completely honest with each other and keep up that straight talking was a really important cultural fit for us.”

The same principles guided the appointment of Hardie as CEO, Taylor said, as searching for the right person for the role was a market-wide exercise. Hardie was the outstanding cultural fit as well as the business fit, and he spent a lot of time meeting with the board before agreeing. Speaking with Hardie, it became clear that he really understood what the business is looking to achieve and, as he had his pick of opportunities, the fact that he chose his role with Jensten is a sign that this cultural cohesion went both ways.

Read more: Jensten Group welcomes new business development manager

Going forward, Taylor said, while every leader brings their subtleties to a business, and he is looking forward to the changes that Hardie will make for the better, he is joining the group because of its culture and its M&A philosophy and is not looking to change this. The focus will still be on combining its organic growth with further acquisition opportunities.

“[COVID] has definitely thrown up new opportunities, there’s no two ways about it,” he said. “And there’s a been of lot of video-calls and signing paperwork has been a little bit more difficult in lockdown. But the key thing for us has been that because we are incredibly financially secure… and because we’ve traded so strong during COVID, we’ve got the funds available to continue to invest in acquisitions. Logistically, the crisis makes everything a little more difficult, but from a funding point of view and a pipeline perspective, COVID hasn’t slowed us down at all.”