Leeds-based broker completes acquisition of Life & Pensions specialist

Independent broking giant Henderson has completed its latest acquisition and could be tempted by a large deal to fulfil ambitious growth plans, Insurance Times reveals this week.

However chief executive Joe Henderson ruled out an acquisition spree after taking a swipe at the consolidator model.

Henderson has acquired fellow Leeds based business Denney O’Hara – a financial advisor and pension consultant specialist – which also has a general insurance brokerage with gross written premiums in excess of £5m. Its total brokerage is around £1.3m.

Founder and chairman Brian Denney – a former Biba chairman - will remain with the business he established 52 years ago in a consultancy role for a minimum of three years, along with its 20 staff.

Henderson told Insurance Times that the deal would allow it to expand in to the life and pensions, and wealth management sectors. “The life and pensions business gives us a foot hold in that market place,” he said. “We’ve never done it before but it gives us a great opportunity to cross sell across Henderson in a controlled manner. We do get lots of requests from existing corporate clients and we see a window of opportunity now. It is a good acquisition for us.”

Henderson expects the firm’s own brokerage to reach £20m by next year. It is currently working on two other “modest acquisitions” to bolt-on on to existing offices. But he added that it was also in discussions with a “significant player in a new region” that could propel GWP to more than £200m. He said the deal would add around 40% growth to the business but insisted it was still early days.

“We are not particularly on the acquisition trail…not the way the consolidators have done it. There does seem to be a clear lack of strategy and direction to the staff when they acquire a business. In the past they did butterfly management but in reality it is seagull management. When we do it, it is for sound business reasons.” He admitted that the company may look at sources of external finance if the deal went ahead.

The broker has recruited 30 staff since January and last year opened a new operation in Teeside, which now has 25 staff including director Jonathan Willett and his sister Emma Simkins, who defected from Towergate. Henderson said he was “delighted” with the progress of the Teeside business.