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Tasker insurance group rebrand interview with ceo robert organ
September 11, 2018

How long have you been here at Taskers?

  • I have been with the business for a little over a year now, 13 months.

What is it like?

  • It’s great, we are a small but highly capable team, our time is spent focusing on the important things, our people and our clients and improving what we do for them
  • When we want to do something, we do it and we do it in a transparent and engaging way, there are no corporate politics to deal with, just likeminded people with a common purpose
  • You might think that a small business would be a sleepier than larger firms, but it is quite the opposite.
  • The appetite for innovation and change is insatiable here and so the pace at which we work is fast, there is a lot we want to do, and we are getting on with it, which makes it a very exciting place to be.

Tell me more about the Group?

  • The Tasker Insurance Group is an established and comprehensive insurance intermediation business in the UK and Ireland.
  • We have:
    • Gresham, an MGA specialising in non-standard property and liability products for SME clients.
    • Tasker & Partners, our Lloyd’s broker with an excellent reputation within the London Market
    • Tasker Insurance Brokers, our retail broking business which has three regional offices and a number of specialist teams.
  • There are about 80 people in the business, across these three businesses and we place about £40m of GWP into the market.
  • We are profitable, and we’re growing.

What is your vision for the Group into the future?

  • We want to continue to be a well-respected, independent player in the UK and Irish Insurance markets, providing innovative, accessible and valued product solutions as well as being well regarded as a trusted regional and specialist broker.

Are you another consolidator?

  • No, we are an independent insurance intermediary who will grow through selective acquisitions.

Who are your competitors?

  • Other client focused, independent businesses.

What is your plan for Growth?

  • In retail broking we are and will continue to grow organically
  • We are expanding our specialisms organically, plus by attracting new talent into the group and through acquisitions
  • We will extend our regional foot across the UK, increasing our ability to serve more local communities and provide attractive succession opportunities for other likeminded independent brokers
  • Our Lloyd’s and London market wholesale team will continue to work with a select number of regional brokers and grow by being able to do more with them
  • Our MGA will seize the opportunity that is being presented by the mainstream insurers becoming increasingly selective with their risk and product selection

What specialisms have you got?

  • We have a number of specialisms, including:

 

  • Tour Operators and travel
  • Leisure
  • Construction
  • Real Estate
  • Specialist motor, including self-drive hire and Chauffeur

What specialisms will you develop?

  • On a national level, we want to focus on specialisms that are relevant to the local communities that we serve, these include:

 

  • Technology & Life Sciences
  • PI
  • Agriculture
  • Care
  • Education

What changes have occurred since you joined?

  • We have changed how we think and behave across the business
  • We now feel like and act as one business, previously we were too siloed in our thinking and approach
  • It was no wonder that the market didn’t understand what we were as a business, quite frankly I’m not sure that we did ourselves.
  • We didn’t appreciate what we were and what we could be either
  • The clarity that has come with us thinking and behaving as one business has helped us to focus on the important things, the things that will make the greatest difference to our people and our clients
  • Talking to everyone across the business, the feedback I get is that people feel that more than ever they understand where the business is heading and why, as well as what their role is to help us get there.
  • It’s no surprise that engagement and moral is higher than its been before.

Tell us about your CSR work?

  • This was an initiative that the various teams from right across the business wanted to do
  • As a leadership team we simply provided them with the opportunity to do it
  • We had a vote where everyone got the opportunity to choose the charity that we would support, and the resounding favourite was Mind
  • That was back in June and since then the various teams have been raising money by doing a number of things.
  • It’s been wonderful to see everyone embrace the initiative so much, it’s been great for morale and of course is making a difference for Mind, which is what it’s all about.

What’s the financial performance of the Group?

  • The financial performance of the Group is good, to give you a sense of perspective we are a £40k GWP business with a headline revenue of about £7m
  • This year we are growing organically across the board which is great as we had a tougher year last year, which was a year of change and this will of course be reflected within the results
  • The focus is on investing in the business and building for the future. We are not so focused on short term profitability, more on sustainability and longer-term growth.
  • That said, we are profitable and will only get more so over time.

Recently recruited a new COO, Graeme Lalley.  Have you got all the right people now?

  • There has been a lot of change across the Group, with several new appointments, in fact, all of the senior team bar one will have changed in the past 18 months or so
  • This can be unsettling but for us has been positive and well received
  • Graeme is the most recent appointment and is an amazing addition to the team, probably the best in the industry at what he does, it’s testament to Taskers that we are able to attract such talent into the business
  • We will be announcing a new Group Finance Director soon, so watch this space in terms of appointments.

I don’t know of Alcuin, what are they like?

  • Alcuin are great.
  • They might not be known to everyone in the market themselves, but many of the investments are well known household names, such as Caffé Nero, Krispy Kreme and The Groucho Club
  • They understand both retail and wholesale operations and have some experience within our sector with Lorega for example.
  • They’re an astute and supportive team who absolutely get us and have a healthy appetite to support me in developing and growing the business here at Tasker Insurance

How long have they been invested and how much longer are they with you?

  • They have been with us for about 7 years and supported the business through a period of growth through acquisitions. They completely get the initial 3-year strategy and want to support me to deliver it.  Beyond that, let’s see.

What’s their appetite for acquisitions?

  • Now that we have the right team in place and a solid platform on which to build, they absolutely want to do acquisitions.
  • We’re not a consolidator and so we will be more selective than some, but as I said, they’re 100% behind the strategy.

And what’s the size of your acquisition fund war chest?

  • I am really glad that you asked that, and I completely understand why you would.
  • What I would say though, is that when people use language like that and talk in terms of “size of war chest”. To me this is consolidator language, the focus on what they have to spend and less so on what they are looking to create and become.
  • The challenge for me isn’t about available capital, it’s more about finding businesses and people who share our vision and culture. If money is their sole motivator, then they’re probably not right for us.

What are your targets for acquisitions and growth?

  • As I said, having the right values and behaviours is really important, we are going to be part of the same family and so we need to have the same DNA
  • In terms of targets, they would fall into a number of camps:
    • Specialist brokers who can see the benefits of becoming part of a larger, more sophisticated group who will help them to continue to build their business
    • Successful local brokers who want to become our regional office in their geographical area of the UK and who want to be part of a larger business but continue to have a voice and a say in their future
    • Smaller brokers who are struggling to find a succession option that works for them
    • Whilst I see acquisitions being predominantly retail, we will always want to look at other opportunities that would work well with other parts of our business.

What are your thoughts on Brexit?

  • Its all a bit of a nightmare isn’t it, the lack of clarity is making life hard for businesses right across the UK.
  • Clients are having to make significant decisions now without all the relevant facts to hand.
  • They are having to make assumptions and have contingency plans in place in case they have got it wrong
  • Whatever your political views, this very significant distraction is not good for UK businesses and this will inevitably have an impact on the economy.

What keeps you awake at night?

  • My 19 year old son, who is living in Australia, texting us in the middle of his day and our night!
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