This exciting integration brings a new trading name - Clear MPW - and a new logo, making it more obvious that the business’s clients are benefitting from Clear's resources and infrastructure, receiving a faster, more efficient service from the same MPW team that they’re already familiar with. This is an exciting stepping stone towards a full trading name change to Clear Insurance Management at a later date.
To discuss the integration and what it means for the newly minted Clear MPW, their team, and their clients, we sat down with founder and Managing Director Andy Webb.
1. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Andy. In a few words, could you describe Clear MPW?
We’re a chartered commercial insurance broker established in 1986 as an independent, originally acquired by Clear in 2017 ahead of the full integration that has been finalised this week.
Since the very beginning we’ve specialised in construction and housebuilders insurances, and we’ve always had a strong client focus, which has allowed us to grow organically as well as via strategic acquisitions.
2. Why did you first start thinking about selling MPW?
It came about when we looked at how we wanted to plan for the future of the business. Our first port of call was to look at the potential of a Management Buy Out - but senior managers were concerned at the level of debt they’d need to finance.
So we began looking at opportunities for sale, and Clear quickly stood out as a frontrunner in this regard.
3. What were your concerns at the beginning of the process, and were they relieved by Clear?
Our main concerns from the off were our loyal staff and longstanding client relationships and how these would be affected.
We were initially encouraged to prepare an Information Memorandum and undertake a market review, with a view to driving the best value out of the business. But while we of course wanted the deal to be price proximate, I’m enormously proud of the team we’ve built and their commitment and support. With that in mind I was very keen that these relationships were protected.
I had already been familiar with Clear and CEO, Howard, for several years via our membership of Brokerbility, and so I was aware of the like-mindedness of the two companies in terms of culture - which went a long way in terms of helping to alleviate these concerns, and the more we spoke, the more I appreciated that our approaches to staff and client relationships were very similar.
4. Looking back on the process of acquisition by Clear, was it a straightforward experience? Why?
It was - we agreed Heads of Terms at a fairly early stage, so we understood their concerns and they ours.
The only snag was that the Brexit referendum result came in the middle of the deal, adding an unwanted complication - but this only slowed things down very slightly. The strength of the relationship we’d already built through Brokerbility helped us to quickly establish terms agreeable to both sides despite this disruption.
5. How does it feel to be acquired?
In a word? Exciting.
The personal and professional management style of Clear is very similar and this has made the cultural integration smooth.
Just as importantly, Clear's additional support functions - Compliance, Accounts, HR, IT and Marketing to name a few - have helped significantly in relieving some of the workload burden on our staff, allowing them to focus on growth and clients.
The relationship building with other divisions within The Clear Group has also been invaluable - the Group share knowledge and face challenges together.
Clear's status as a Lloyds broker has enabled us to access a terrific pool of specialist insurers for complex risks - and we’ve also been able to win more business as part of Clear, thanks to their excellent reputation (multiple awards won!) in the industry.
Our staff are also treated extremely well. Clear have a number of great initiatives such as their employee awards, several of which have been won by MPW team members.
6. How do Clear treat their newly acquired businesses?
The message from Howard at Clear from the beginning was ‘if it ain’t broke, we don’t fix it’ - and we were always assured that no significant changes to the business would occur.
They have been absolutely true to their word. We’ve continued to run our business independently, drawing upon the huge benefit of support and guidance from Clear.
All our staff have remained employed - in fact, we’ve hired additional team members. We’ve renewed the lease on our offices. There have even been some exciting new opportunities created across the group for our staff members, with key members of the MPW team taking up new career changes with challenging roles being created at Clear's Head Office.
Staff have been allowed to continue dealing directly with clients as Clear promised, and clients are very happy. And our clients have told us that they’ve seen very little change overall, and what they have seen has been positive.
7. What would be your advice to a broker who is thinking of selling their business?
The most important thing is preparation.
The stakeholders need to agree from the very beginning that a sale is the way forward. Once that decision has been reached, it’s important to effectively prepare the business for sale.
Value will be driven by performance, so looking to maximise profit and income is key. Your staff, office locations and business strategy should all be reviewed, and it’s important to analyse what the business’s true priorities are.
Think about what the business will look like to other companies, and how you can present it favourably. And my advice would be to look for the right buyer - someone who will look after your business as you would want it run in the long term.
It’s actually a very good opportunity to completely review your structure, personnel, income streams, expenditure, commitments and business strategy.
8. What have you been up to post acquisition?
I’ve been persuaded to work in the Group, despite considering retirement! I’ve now got the opportunity to train and mentor and assist with acquisitions. All of which I thoroughly enjoy. By relinquishing my MD role at MPW, I have given our team opportunities to develop, whilst other MPW staff have also chosen new and important roles across the Group.
I am very proud to see my colleagues flourish and develop whilst managing to maintain the businesses reputation and results and protecting and growing our excellent client relationships.