Chief exec was surprised by resignations, as Leeds office flourishes

Three founding members of broker Oxygen’s Leeds office departed this week with no jobs to go to.

Richard Butler, Graeme McIntyre and Keith Florence all resigned just months after the tragic death of their former boss Sean Hicks.

Insurance Times understands that the three staff all have no immediate plans. One source said they would be difficult to replace because of their experience and ability to attract clients.

Oxygen chief executive Graham Elliott said the decision to resign was “surprising”.

He commented: “The end of 2009 saw the corporate risks team in Leeds achieve some record-breaking months of new business production. In addition, the group’s corporate restructure in October stressed the strategic importance of the Leeds office’s unique transparency model.

“The departure of these account executives, at a time when the team is working more effectively than ever, is surprising. Nonetheless, we remain committed to our strategy of lateral expansion of the corporate risks offering. Announcements will be made in the next few weeks regarding the appointment of two new senior account executives, to assist in this expansion.”

The departures leave Chris Brady as the only remaining member of the Smart & Cook team that formed the basis of Oxygen’s Leeds office when it was opened in 2006.

Nigel Harrison was the other original member, but he joined a small number of staff leaving for Henderson Insurance Brokers’ new corporate accounts team in March 2008.

The Leeds business was Oxygen’s first regional office outside London. At the time of the acquisition, then group chief executive Nigel Barton continued with the Smart & Cook policy of doing fee-based business.

In October last year, on the company’s fifth anniversary, the broker announced a restructure that saw Barton move to chairman and Elliott promoted from chief operating officer to chief executive.

The eight broking teams were replaced by five new divisions: Oxygen Corporate Risks, Oxygen Partners, Oxygen Private Clients, Oxygen Re and Robertson Taylor.

As part of the restructure, the broker appointed Andy Wigg as new business executive of Oxygen Partners.

Wigg focuses on the development of property and casualty solutions for regional broking partners.

He joined from Thomson Heath and Bond, where he was a development executive.