Nick Wright and Stewart Gardiner to join in six months

Arthur J Gallagher has confirmed that it has hired Fusion managing director Nick Wright and underwriting director Stewart Gardiner as part of its plans to bulk up its MGA arm and move its divisions into a single brand.

The heads of Towergate’s £120m gross written premium (GWP) commercial underwriting business resigned last month and are working their six-month notice periods.

In the past year Gallagher’s MGA business has grown from a £60m predominantly e-underwriting business focused on non-standard household policies to a £300m business with a raft of commercial specialisms, thanks to the acquisitions of Barbon, OAMPS and Giles.

Mark Armitage, the managing director of the MGA division created in December, said he wanted to continue to grow the businesses through new product development, acquisitions and people hires.

“I’d like to specialise in providing things that are just that little bit different where there’s more of a need in the market,” he told Insurance Times.

“That gives you a much greater chance of making a good return for the carrier and also having expertise that adds value to the broker.”

Armitage said Gallagher’s MGA would also stand out for having expert trading underwriters.

“If you ever ask a broker what they want from any provider of insurance, it’s about being able to talk to people who have the knowledge and can use it.

“We have lots of people who work with us that have that capability and we’d like more,” he added.

New hires and cleaner structure

Armitage said Wright and Gardiner had a “track record of delivering an underwriting return for carriers and being attractive to brokers.”

“That fits with everything that we’re looking to build,” he said.

Wright and Gardiner will report to Armitage and work in Gallagher’s commercial combined team.

Armitage said the MGA would operate under a common brand by the end of the year to make it easier for brokers to navigate.

With last May’s acquisition of Barbon Gallagher acquired MGA Zennor, which specialises in housing associations and real estate, and property-owners’ underwriter Keelan Westall.

Its £233m purchase of Giles added Ink, which underwrites solicitors’ professional indemnity and has a number of schemes including scaffolders, roofers, printers and recruitment agencies as well as a commercial combined underwriting business.

Last month’s acquisition of OAMPS added a specialism in motor fleet for oil tankers and a consultancy for environmental engineers.

Armitage declined to disclose a growth target for the business.

“You have to have budgets and targets, but if you aim at just the number that’s probably getting it the wrong way round,” he said. “If you’re the best in the fields you operate in then you will have scale.”

Equal treatment for brokers

Asked if Gallagher’s retail arm would be incentivised to place business with the MGA, Armitage said that brokers would be treated the same whether they were part of Gallagher or a third party.

“There will be no compulsion for any Gallagher broker to use the MGA,” he said.

“Our aim is to produce products and services that our own brokers would like to use in the same way as third party brokers would like to use it.”

He added that the MGA and broking divisions are separate legal entities with separate management teams.