The insurer’s ‘hugely attractive’ charitable purpose has additionally supported recruitment, says UK managing director

Specialist insurer Ecclesiastical believes that its charitable parent company and focus on grant giving presents “this amazing ‘and’ story” for the company’s 800 broker partners to tap into and use “to make a material difference in the world”, according to Richard Coleman, Ecclesiastical’s UK managing director.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Coleman explains that although “job one” for the insurer is “100% commercial” and being “the best for the client”, Ecclesiastical’s charitable lifeblood that flows from its parent Benefact Group – which in turn is owned by grant giving organisation Benefact Trust – provides a real differentiator when it comes to the broker-insurer relationship.

Coleman says: “We do think there’s this amazing ‘and’ story.

“We’ll be the best specialist insurer for your client and, actually, you can be part of something because brokers that have a sizeable account with us are helping us to make a material difference in the world.

“Of course, [brokers’] number one obligation is to their client, but there’s this amazing ‘and’ where it can mean we both do something really good for society.”

For Coleman, what makes the Benefact parentage unique is the fact that the business is a grant giving organisation, rather than a charity that needs to fundraise.

He explains: “The money that we give to [Benefact Trust, it distributes] to other charities to do good.

“The trust often talks about the fact that being grant giving means that [it] can go where [it sees] need. [It does not] have to fundraise.

“So, it doesn’t have to be a popular issue [that Benefact Trust supports]. It can be something where [the trust sees a] genuine need and [it] can respond quickly.

“All of our available profits go to the trust and [it distributes] them as [it sees] fit.”

In 2023, Benefact Trust awarded £25m to 1,800 charities.

Giving back

Ecclesiastical does not let Benefact Trust have all the fun when it comes to charitable giving, however.

The insurer operates an annual programme called Movement for Good, where its broker partners, customers and staff can nominate various charities to receive a grant – Ecclesiastical gives away a total of £1m a year through this scheme, which first launched in 2019.

The more nominations a charity receives, the more likely it is to receive a grant – these awards range from £1,000 to £50,000.

For 2024, nominations are already open for £1,000 grants – this launched on 1 January 2024 – while large grant nominations open on 8 July.

“[It] was just another way to for us to connect a bit closer [with broker partners],” Coleman says.

Alongside this, Ecclesiastical also operates its Closer to You scheme, which launched seven years ago. This involves selected broker partners telling Ecclesiastical which charities they have a particular interest in and then the insurer donating to these charities on brokers’ behalf.

In 2023, the programme awarded almost £100,000 to more than 50 charities. Looking across the past seven years, Ecclesiastical has donated over £625,000 to brokers’ chosen charities.

“We have something called Closer to You, which is where we can engage in giving [to] the charities that are of mutual interest – that’s a great way to get closer to our partners,” Coleman adds.


The internal benefit of being focused on charitable giving is that this purpose “definitely helps” in the competitive war for talent.

Coleman says: “Everybody has much more awareness of [the] society we’re all a part of. That’s been happening generationally and Covid made us all much more aware of that as well. Our purpose is definitely hugely attractive to be part of.”

Although Coleman adds that this charity focused element is not the only lever Ecclesiastical pulls upon to attract and retain talent. For him, it’s the insurer’s “mix of ambition, purpose [and] stability” that is “really powerful” and has “helped us attract some great people”.

He explains: “[Benefact Trust] wants the best long-term returns that [it] can give to charities. So, it does think long term. It is a very stable parent to have and that flows through into a sense of rock solid stability, rock solid focus. We’ve got the clarity of focus.

“[Also, there is] that sense that if you join [Ecclesiastical] at a senior level, or any level in UKGI, you can affect change and drive this business in a way that perhaps you can’t in other places.

“That combination [has] been really powerful for us and we’ve not been immune to it. It’s been a difficult labour market for everybody, but I think it’s really helped us attract some great people over the last three, four years.”