Setting out on CLEAR's growth journey
It's a far cry from CLEAR's start-up days in 2001, when Howard Lickens and Gary O'Donnell launched Clear Insurance Management Ltd from a modest office in southwest London, with eight members of staff producing £1.3m GWP and revenue of £300k.
Fresh talent at the top
When CLEAR completed its most recent and significant acquisition in the latter part of 2020, the leadership team recognised that it needed more management capacity. As Howard explains, "It is more of a bandwidth issue. The Brokerbility [BHIB] deal grew the business by more than 50%, and we have a few deals in play that will add more. We needed more talent at the top."
Following an intensive selection process, Mike Edgeley was appointed Group CEO. He will take on the day-to-day running of the Group once he gains approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). At the same time, Howard will step into the executive chairman's role, while Gary will become group M&A director.
An acquisition dream team
Mike Edgeley's arrival as Group CEO will allow Howard and Gary to concentrate on completing further acquisition deals in the coming year with Howard predicting that CLEAR will hit £250m in GWP by the end of 2021. "We did two deals last year" Howard explains, "but one was very large. We expect to do considerably more deals in the first quarter of 2021”, but cautioned, "we will still be picky. We still want to find the right people and the right culture."
Taking the business forward
Mike brings significant insurance sector experience to the business, most recently as managing director at A-Plan Insurance. Before joining A-Plan, Mike spent eight years at BGL in various leadership roles and then held MD positions at Lancaster Insurance and the Specialist Medical Division within Capita plc. Before entering the insurance sector, he spent 17 years in the military during which time he held leadership and operational positions in the Parachute Regiment and was a staff officer in the Ministry of Defence.
"We are fortunate", Howard affirms, "to have someone of Mike's experience and capability to take the business forward. His appointment as group CEO also reflects the pace at which we are realising our growth ambitions. CLEAR has grown significantly in recent years, and the management team we have built, led by Mike, is in great shape to deliver on our next phase of development."
Commenting on his appointment as CLEAR's Group CEO, Mike said, "I'm delighted to be joining a talented team and dynamic business, which has such an exciting future. We have a unique proposition for brokers at a crossroads who are seeking the advantages of the collegiate Brokerbility model or a good home for their business as they realise their investment.
Our proposition for customers grows as we develop our product base and access to markets further. I'm very much looking forward, along with Howard, Gary and the team at CLEAR, to deliver on the next stage of our growth journey."