It is the well-touted secret to the success of any restructure, acquisition or re-brand – to identify all the applicable stakeholders and keep them up to date with how the journey is progressing. For the team at the newly introduced underwriting business Arc Legal Group, ensuring a smooth integration process has been a key metric of the success of the launch.
Read more: Arc Legal Group officially launches
Arc Legal Group is the union of Arc Legal Assistance with two recently acquired units – Legal Insurance Management (LIM) and AmTrust Underwriting Limited (AUL). Framing how the combined group came to be, Arc Legal Group CEO Frank O’Malley (pictured above), one of the original founders of Arc Legal Assistance in 2003, noted that the move was a natural progression of the firm’s journey.
“In 2016, we were acquired by AmTrust International and have been an AmTrust business now for the past five-to-six years,” he said. “[AmTrust] has been engaged in making other acquisitions of businesses similar to ours. Across the course of the last three years, we’ve been integrating some of those other businesses into what was Arc Legal Assistance – these were MGAs engaged in similar activities and providing ancillary products. And we completed that integration process towards the end of last year.”
The time was right to bring the businesses performing similar functions together, O’Malley said, and the way that Arc Legal Group has been formed will not only eliminate some duplication of services but also provide the combined group with more strength and depth across the market.
Deputy chief executive at Arc Legal Group, Peter Harvey (pictured below) emphasised the measured approach taken to bringing the right entities together, and that the integration is not a cost-saving exercise but rather a strategic restructuring to get the best from all the combined businesses. Only MGAs whose product suites are a natural fit have moved under the group’s umbrella, he said, which promotes the underpinning ambition behind the move – to align commercial benefits with market benefits and, ultimately, customer benefits.
Considering what businesses would benefit the most from becoming part of the group was a key consideration, O’Malley said. It was also critical to ensure the process didn’t interfere with the day-to-day activities of all the involved businesses as each had been growing organically throughout the integration period.
“We had to strike the right balance,” he said. “Because obviously you want to make sure you do the integration properly, but you don’t want to be too inward-looking or then you lose focus on what you’re actually here for which is to provide products and services to your customers. The prioritisation of all of that was really key.”
The launch of Arc Legal Group into the market has met with a strong reception, Harvey said, and he feels fortunate that he and O’Malley are in a position to honestly say that the culture of the combining business has been a natural fit.
That’s not to say there have not been challenges, he added. IT integration is always one of the biggest concerns businesses face when undergoing such a process as there are different books of data sitting on different platforms and you’re trying to bring so many records across. There are still a few pieces that need to be tidied up and closed around the IT piece, but when you have the right people involved and they’re all engaged on the bigger journey – that’s half your battle right there.
“We were very fortunate, that… just before the rebrand, we did a tour around all the branches and a very high-level roadshow to all the teams,” he said. “The response we got from that was overwhelmingly positive. And it was great just to get out in front of our people, again, especially after two years of limited interaction.”
In previous roles, O’Malley said, he and Harvey had been part of organisations involved in acquisitions and know there are different ways of underdoing that process. With that in mind, they were very conscious from the beginning that they wanted to bring everybody along on the integration journey. Arc Legal Assistance was the largest entity, and the group has evolved the Arc brand, he said, but this isn’t about doing things “the Arc way”.
The combined group boasts a “combination culture”, Harvey said. It’s not just the Arc model overlaid on to other businesses, but a bona fide integration prizing the best of what every firm has to offer and bringing it all together as one. The team spent a lot of time identifying the best parts and best practices of all the incoming businesses, O’Malley said, and these have been adopted across the wider group.
“I think when you’re in an organisation that’s being acquired, there’s a natural nervousness about what’s happening,” he said. “But when you see that acquiring organisation taking notice of the way you do things and adopting some of them, that helps you as an individual and your team to feel more comfortable about what’s going on. And we made sure that this feedback was provided all the way through, so it really has been a pretty seamless exercise.”
Looking at what’s next for Arc Legal Group, Harvey stated that the rebrand launch is just the start of what’s on the cards. The focus for 2022 is to build and capitalise on the rebrand, he said, and to make the group’s message is clear to its existing partners that - whether they originally be an Arc client or an AUL client or an LIM client – the group is focused on products that dovetail very well together both in terms of the product offering and claims servicing.
A key message from Harvey and O’Malley is that legal expenses remain the core of the business while the group continues to innovate and improve its products, customer service and claims service. About 40% of Arc Legal Group’s initiatives for this year are centred on those factors, he said, and on making sure the business is the very best it can be at every stage of its customers’ journeys.
“And that’s really what 2022 is about,” he said. “And it’s about continued growth and making that message really clear. There could possibly be more strategic acquisitions. We are currently looking at one opportunity at the minute, and this has been hand-picked out of the market as something that will fit extremely well and help us grow the business further, not just over 2022 but for the next five years, and beyond.”