The broker intends to keep its ‘very people orientated’ DNA, but will continue work on ‘rationalising our IT’ and delivering ‘growth ambitions’, says group chief executive

Since joining The Clear Group in January 2021, group chief executive Mike Edgeley has been conducting some thorough back office housekeeping.

In his mind, the insurance intermediary was already “a very successful business”, with “natural momentum, a natural style and character” – in part thanks to the continued oversight of executive chairman Howard Lickens.

Therefore, Edgeley believed his mission statement upon taking up the leadership was to “work out where we can really try and help people by reducing workloads and allowing them to focus on what they’re good at, which is ultimately to provide [a] good advice service to clients”.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Edgeley explains that in April 2021, he launched “a really simple strategy pyramid” that was designed “to articulate what we were going to do” and outline how the firm planned to achieve its “growth ambitions through organic growth, through M&A and through what we were going to do about Brokerbility”.

The foundations of this long-term strategy pyramid were built around updating the company’s information technology (IT) infrastructure, Edgeley notes – this included “getting everybody onto the same networks”, “upgrading the telephone system” and the launch of a new management information (MI) database, to make these business insights more accessible than they were previously.


Mike Edgeley

Alongside this technology focus, Edgeley says The Clear Group additionally conducted “a lot of work around quality”. For example, in January 2021, the broker “had four or five people [working] in compliance”. By January 2023, however, this number had increased to 15 compliance employees, working within a regional structure.

The final backbone of Edgeley’s strategy pyramid is The Clear Group’s staff. Here, the broker reviewed “remuneration, the grading of people, talent management frameworks [and put] everybody onto the same objectives and appraisal mechanisms”.

He continues: “That was all about making sure we had everybody aligned with what we wanted to do, but then really starting to look at the talent management, succession planning and the training and the development of people.

“That really is the focus and fundamentally, this is a business which is all about get the technology right, get the people right and, frankly, everything will follow.”

Current year agenda

Edgeley has been spearheading this strategy update for the past two years – he tells Insurance Times that The Clear Group has “made huge steps” in these project areas and has “had a really successful two years”.

Despite these positive strides, Edgeley acknowledges that “there’s probably another 18 months of work there” before his vision comes to full fruition to benefit the business.

In addition, The Clear Group has also had to factor in input from new backer Goldman Sachs – the investment bank announced in June 2022 that it would be taking over from ECI Partners as the broker’s private equity investor, with the deal completing in November 2022.

This year, therefore, Edgeley has been undertaking “a reiteration and refinement of the plan” in conjunction with Goldman Sachs – but he is quick to emphasise that “it’s very much the same” proposition because “Goldman Sachs bought into the business model and the plan that we created”.

He continues: “[Goldman Sachs is] seeing if [it] can help us and make sure we can deliver [the plan] as effectively as possible.”

In particular, Edgeley intends to get The Clear Group’s staff operating from one technology platform in 2023, as well as “continuing to upgrade and improve” the company’s business and management information. Another particular agenda item for this year revolves around how The Clear Group integrates M&A targets into the broader business.

“It’s the same as the plan from the last two years, but the bits that we finished, we’re moving on [to] another level with some further opportunities and initiatives which the capabilities we’ve now got [from Goldman Sachs] allow us to do,” Edgeley explains.

“There’s an awful lot of work that’s being done on refining our structure.”

Edgeley described this second phase of his pyramid strategy as “an exciting time”.

He adds: “In 18 months’ time, what we’d expect to see is a business that looks and feels very much the same – very people orientated – but just probably just more efficient and structured in terms of the journey clients go through, whether it’s eTraded, whether it’s through our own schemes business or whether it’s relationship, high touch led, with all the management information that sits behind it.

“It’s an exciting time because there’s a lot to do, but all those projects and initiatives have started and we’re seeing them starting to get some good traction already.”

Growth components

The Clear Group currently has around 650 staff employed across 14 national locations.

The broker clearly intends to extend these parameters using acquisitional and organic growth.

In terms of M&A driven growth, the organisation bought Sheffield-based broker IFM Insurance Brokers in March 2023 to expand its reach in the north of England, for example.

Edgeley says: “As you [grow] as a business, you’re constantly looking at making sure [that] as businesses add to the group, there’s a natural way for them to bolt into the group.

“If you’re buying decent businesses, you want to leave those businesses to carry on driving their own growth agenda, but you want to be able to make sure that we as a group are helping them as much as we can and how we bolt those businesses in.

“We’re just doing some further work in terms of our planning around integration and support to them.”

As for organic growth, Edgeley explains that this will centre around The Clear Group’s targeted business classes of “property, construction, professional lines and corporate”.

He adds: “That’s probably where the emphasis is. That’s where a considerable amount of the organic growth will come from.

“A lot of [organic growth will be around] more intelligent and efficient use of how we stream our clients within the business – it’s going to be the key thing frankly.”