The month-long handover process will commence from 1 September

Broker Gallagher has had a senior leadership reshuffle, sending the chief operating officer for its employee benefits and HR business to subsidiary Pen Underwriting, while MGA Pen provides the newest chief operating officer for Gallagher’s UK retail division.

Michelle Bree, who was appointed chief operating officer at Pen Underwriting back in 2019, will start as the chief operating officer for Gallagher’s UK retail division from 1 October, subject to regulatory approval.

In this position, Bree will oversee the operational aspects for this portfolio, which caters for both personal lines and commercial clients such as sole traders, startup businesses, medium-sized companies, large corporates and multi-national firms.

Reporting into retail chief executive Michael Rea, Bree will have responsibility for 70 UK branches and 2,800 staff.

Bree initially joined Gallagher in 2015 from Accenture, when she started at Pen Underwriting as a programme manager specialising in change management. She became the MGA’s director of operations in 2018 before being promoted to her current position.

Speaking on Bree’s appointment, Rea said: “Michelle is a fantastic addition and I am very pleased to welcome her into my leadership team.

“From both a people and office perspective, we are the largest division of Gallagher in the UK and her wealth of experience and track record of defining and delivering efficient solutions against strategic goals will be critical to the way we operate in the future, and ensuring we continue to support our one million customers.

“I am particularly pleased that we have been able to fill this pivotal senior role with an internal promotion as this demonstrates the depth of talent within Gallagher in the UK.”

Bree added: “I am delighted to be able to continue my career within Gallagher and I am excited to move into the broking side of the business.

“I’ve been with Gallagher for five years now, and really enjoy the ‘can do’ culture and consistent focus on our clients.

“I’m looking forward to working with the talented team of people in retail to continue to grow the business, building on the operational capabilities in place to ensure we deliver a great service.”


From 1 September, Bree will start the month-long handover process with her replacement at Pen Underwriting, Matthew Lucas, who is currently the chief operating officer at the specialist employee benefit, wealth management, communications and HR consultancy arm of Gallagher.

Upon joining Pen Underwriting on 1 September, Lucas will also join the firm’s board, subject to regulatory approval.

Lucas will be responsible for Pen’s operational capabilities, ensuring it has the flexibility and scalability to deliver its strategic business vision and growth ambitions of becoming a £1bn gross written premium (GWP) underwriting and distribution business – Pen currently controls £600m of GWP.

Prior to joining Gallagher, Lucas held senior roles at Brown Shipley Private Bank, Barclays Wealth and Capita SIP Services, where he led large-scale transformation initiatives and operations teams.

Tom Downey, chief executive at Pen Underwriting, said: “Joining us as he is from GBS UK, Matthew is a great fit for Pen, bringing shared values as well as a broad and impressive track record in senior leadership experience across business, project, operational and stakeholder management.

“He’ll be able to hit the ground running at this crucial juncture for Pen and Matthew’s background in the banking side of financial services will undoubtedly bring fresh ideas and energy to delivering operational excellence as we look to deliver on our new vision.”

Lucas added: “I’m excited to be joining Pen as it embarks on this next ambitious phase and was attracted by the real sense of cultural camaraderie – one strong team, representing a diverse and specialist business that’s all pulling together in a unified direction. Michelle has laid some excellent operational foundations upon which I’m looking forward to building.”