Tom Broughton looks at Peter Cullum's progress
Ten years on and 143 acquisitions down the line and the really difficult work is only about to begin for Peter Cullum and the Towergate management team. From a small room in Essex, Cullum has expertly spotted an opportunity that has turned Towergate into one of the most revered companies in the market. It has not been an easy ride; the sheer number of acquisitions it has pulled off is nothing short of miraculous for a company built by self-proclaimed ‘deal junkies’. And as such, it comes as no surprise that it has emerged this week that Cullum is in talks to hive off a quarter of its business to private equity group Candover, in a deal that will value the group at £3bn, as well as pave the way to a full Stock Exchange listing.
Cullum’s house has been built on the mantra of ‘make money, have fun and do good’ and should you read Towergate’s new little red book chronicling the management theory behind its meteoric rise you’ll see that these principles are very real. Cullum personally sees to it that thousands of pounds is donated to charity each year and Towergate has built a reputation for being irreverent and perhaps even a little eccentric.
But now the game is changing and negotiating with the City and coming under the cold eye of scrutiny of shareholders will be a very different proposition. The key challenge will be to present an aura of integration for its many broking spin-offs and its technology platform. No doubt Cullum recognises this and will cut his cloth accordingly, but its rationale for the future is surely a simple one – Towergate will have to begin to look at, and manage, its own business in closer detail as opposed to the accounts of everyone else.
‘ If insurance is ever going to compete with the banking or accountancy sector to recruit and retain the best people, the answer is not about new skills initiatives, media campaigns or mapped career paths. It is simply about money (see pages 22-24). In a statement of the bleeding obvious, companies in the insurance sector need to pay young people more to attract them to the sector and then offer all the trappings of the modern workplace. Only then will this undervalued sector be able to compete. ITe.