Towergate will retain its entrepreneurial, private company culture under its new management, chair Alistair Lyons pledged.
Speaking after the appointment of Aviva’s Mark Hodges to replace Andy Homer as chief executive, Lyons said the company would retain the characteristics that had made it successful.
Lyons, who is also chair of listed insurer Admiral, said: “At Admiral we changed the nature of the board and company as little as possible [upon flotation], and maintained the fast moving private company ethos that had made that successful. Exactly the same applies to Towergate.
“In talking to external candidates, the nature of those individuals and their own personal style had to fit with Towergate’s style and we are very comfortable that Mark has that same cultural affinity.”
He added: “Mark brings a great track record within the general insurance sector; he understands both the broker and insurer work extremely well. He’s built relationships in that world and has sat as a main board director in a listed company.”
Asked why Hodges had left Aviva for Towergate, he said: “He took a good look at the potential that Towergate has and always, for anyone, the opportunity to be their own chief executive and run their own show is very attractive.”
Only one ego
Lyons said that Hodges would join in a few months, and that Homer would stay in post until then. Together with Towergate founder Peter Cullum, Homer will remain on the board as a non-executive director. However Lyons said that Hodges would be the ‘face’ of Towergate.
He said: “I have gone on record before as saying there is only room for one ego in any business and that must be the chief executive.”
Asked whether Hodges would overhaul the management team, Lyons said: “Mark knows our management team pretty well already and comes into the business with a view as to the success which the team has already achieved. Obviously any chief executive coming in needs time to take stock and work out how he wants to structure his management.”
There were a number of internal candidates for the chief executive job. Commenting on this, Lyons said: “We have a very experienced, high calibre management team who set a high bar. I believe they will look at Mark and see him as a credible leader of this business with whom they should be capable of building significant success.”
Finally, Lyons said that Hodges’ appointment was not the “starting gun” for an IPO, reiterating that private equity backers Advent were committed to a medium term exit strategy.