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Blog: Inside Markerstudy's Co-op deal

Gary Humphreys Markerstudy

The deal is still underway but Gary Humphrey's shares his expert view on some of the challenges of the acquisition.

Our Co-op Insurance deal has been more challenging than most in our experience, due to the sheer size of the task and the timing of Covid-19, which has hampered us during the last phase of the transaction.

As an organisation, we’re adept at keeping the plates spinning, but shifting to a largely working from home scenario, utilising the Government furlough scheme, supporting brokers, partners and customers, whilst getting this (Co-op) over the line has taken more energy than any of us could possibly have imagined. 

But the good news is that we’re coming out the other side and success is within touching distance!

Onboarding new staff is not a task we’re strangers to, having notably completed many acquisitions during recent years, but we’ve never had to do it whilst in the grip of a pandemic! As I write this, we’re nearing completion of the transfer, and credit to both teams for working collaboratively and successfully together to put the needs of the people first. 

I’m pleased to say we’ve minimised the impact on Co-op and Markerstudy Group staff by listening carefully to the options proposed to avoid compulsory redundancy. Far fewer roles than initially anticipated were put at risk, and where possible we offered ‘preference to exit’ – or in other words – voluntary redundancy.  The next stage will be interesting as we complete the restructure and settle new staff whilst the majority continue to WFH.  Although unknown territory, thankfully this is where technology plays its part, and our HR division will hand the baton to IT

Our industry has never been strangers to change. We’ve all experienced first-hand the alteration in our own circumstances as a result of Covid-19, which has heightened our empathy for our personal and commercial customers and the difficulties they’ve faced this year.

How we go forward as an industry is largely down to us.  There is much rumination, but ultimately we have to offer customers the products that they want and need – regardless of the shifting landscape over coming months.  I believe there’s room for us all in this marketplace, as long we listen, perfect what we’re good at and continue to seek new opportunities for growth. 

I am keen to see what the next and final quarter of 2020 brings.  Although we’ve fully supported the necessity of virtual awards, and the UK Broker Awards managed to bring together the industry for a celebration of everything that we’ve all worked so hard to achieve in the last 12 months, I for one will be pleased to see the back of this phenomena. 

I am eager for us to don our black ties and ballgowns and to raise a toast to the end of the strangest year in our history. I sincerely hope the metaphorical ‘bubbles’ will be burst, and we can again enjoy actual bubbles in a flute, with friends and colleagues.

Gary Humphreys is group underwriting director – Markerstudy Group. 

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