The businesses plan to combine knowledge and expand their insurance offering 

After being shortlisted but not chosen in a tender process with a major UK broker, it occurred to Ignite Software Systems’ managing director Toby MacLachlan that “you can have the very best technology, but [still] need a certain ecosystem and backing”.

MacLachlan subsequently asked why Ignite was not selected and despite topping the broker’s list of technology providers, due to its products and roadmap, there were concerns over longevity.

MacLachlan told Insurance Times: “It’s a barrier to us but also to the whole market if larger companies can’t choose smaller companies that are innovative and have the best technology.”

To mitigate a repeat performance of this scenario, MacLachlan and the Ignite team began searching for a “good fit” acquisition solution - enter reinsurance software specialist Sequel.

Earlier this month, Sequel purchased Ignite for an undisclosed sum, promising to help accelerate the software company’s technology platform, which now forms part of Sequel’s digital ecosystem.

Sequel is part of private equity investor and data analytics provider Verisk. It caters to the insurance, energy and specialised markets sector, as well as financial services customers. Verisk owns a majority stake in Sequel.

Speaking about the acquisition, MacLachlan said: “We are pleased as we think we have found a really excellent partner in Sequel.”

Expanding the digital ecosystem

Following the development of a digital ecosystem for specialty lines, Sequel is now looking to branch out into personal lines, which is Ignite’s specialism. MacLachlan said: “My speciality is in personal lines, B2C, B2B stuff and there has not been a significant entrant into that market software house wise in 20 years - it’s very much the ambition of Ignite and the wider group to challenge that.”

Sequel chief executive Ian Summers is also “really excited” about bringing Ignite into the “commercial space”, to fill “gaps all the way through the cycle”, he told Insurance Times. 

Furthermore, the acquisition will additionally support parent company Verisk’s ambition to become the technology champion of the London market. Prior to the acquisition, Acord chief executive Bill Pieroni told Summers that Ignite was “moving and shaking in the personal lines market”.

Summers continued: “The value from a Sequel point of view is that we are always looking for that next best of breed company that’s coming through the ranks.

”London is a specialty market at heart. It’s also the breeding ground for new startups, MGAs, insurers and small brokers, so by bringing the two [businesses] together, we can look after the entirety of that London market portfolio.” 

Summers added that because speed to market is important, Sequel doesn’t necessarily want to build all its propositions from scratch - meaning that partnerships and acquisitions, such as the one with Ignite, are ideal.

MacLachlan said: “It speaks to the level of Verisk and Sequel’s ambition that they are always looking for best of breed technology.

”If you want to be a technology champion, you have to keep reinvesting. The technology companies that fall by the wayside are the ones that do not continue to reinvest in research and development [or] key acquisitions.

“Now we are part of the [Verisk] family, we can see the landscape. [The business is] not content to rest on [its] laurels as a dominant force within [the] London market - [it wants] to spread wider and make best use of data and Sequel’s leading market position and provide the benefit of that.”

Customers still top priority

MacLachlan stressed that customers would remain a priority following the acquisition and that disruption will be minimal.

Ignite will not be changing significantly - it is making sure to deliver projects to deadline and keep its existing client base happy.

Summers agreed that client centricity is paramount. Sequel wants to maintain the agility and professionalism that Ignite has in dealing with its customer base, which allows it to maintain a high service level.

In terms of what makes Ignite ”special to our clients”, MacLachlan attributed this to being ”experts in our area”. 

”We are agile, we listen to them and [clients] have a senior decision maker in the organisation they can talk to quickly,” he continued.

“Ignite should pull down on resources from up above, from Sequel, from various [places] where appropriate in terms of infrastructure, data security, knowledge, project management, the understanding of large enterprise clients. It’s very important that we keep [our] identity and customer focus.”

Ignite currently has a staff force of around 30 employees - MacLachlan said that being part of a 10,000-strong organisation was therefore initially a “culture shock”, but in a positive way.

“We are getting brought up to standard in terms of data security and infrastructure - stuff that we had always been pretty good at, but we are now at ‘world meeting standard’ for those sorts of things,” he said.

MacLachlan hopes Sequel’s backing will help Ignite compete for the biggest clients.