Incoming finance chief Egan and Hodges go way back

Eyebrows were raised this morning when Towergate announced the departure of its finance director Ian Patrick. But should this really come as a shock? The consolidator has swooped for a heavy hitter in Brit finance chief Scott Egan at a time when the company’s finances have been creating plenty of noise.

Just last week Patrick was forced to come out fighting when rating agency Fitch issued a threatening note warning that Towergate’s issuer default rating could be downgraded to B- from B if the broker’s debt-to-profit ratio remains at its current high levels for the next 18-24 months.

Patrick’s response to this could not have been more defensive, proclaiming that the company was “financially rock solid”.

But one week on and Patrick, who had five years under his belt in charge of Towergate’s finances, is out of the door. Did Hodges feel that it was time to freshen up the pack? And had the decision to bring in Egan already been made?

In Egan, Hodges has a finance chief with a proven track record. He was UK chief financial officer at Zurich before moving to Brit. Prior to this he had spent 12 years at Hodges’ former stomping ground Aviva, so clearly the relationship goes back some way.

His experience of working within a listed entity would likely have been the selling point, what with Towergate gearing up for an IPO in three to four years. Egan is well known in the City amongst analysts and investors and will help smooth the way towards a listing as well as building confidence among outside investors.

The news will have come as a blow to Brit who will have to search long and hard for a full-time successor of Egan’s calibre. But that won’t concern Hodges’, who has got his man as he continues to shuffle the Towergate pack. There have been rapid changes at the consolidator in the last six months and not all have been of Hodges’ making, but his decision in this instance has been ruthless.

Yesterday, Towergate welcomed back an old face when former household underwriting manager Alyson Williams returned less than six months after she joined Gallagher. This is just one of many big industry U-turns in years gone by, as we plotted in this online exclusive.