CEO Bob Darling
This morning Coversure Insurance Services Group (CISG) CEO, Bob Darling, announced that the Group, including City Underwriters, had been purchased in a management buyout. To get some more details on what this exciting development means for CUL, we spoke to Bob and asked him about the buyout, the company’s new investors, Livingbridge, and his plans for the future.
Why did you decide to pursue a management buyout?
The management team wanted to take the business to the next level. Over the last 30-odd years CISG has grown to become a trusted insurance distribution service for brokers and we wanted to build on that success and scale new heights. The buyout, and the financial backing of Livingbridge, will allow us to achieve this and accelerate CUL’s already impressive growth rate.
Livingbridge are a well-known private equity firm; why did you choose them?
They were genuinely excited about the business as a whole and its range of distribution channels. On a human level we got on well from the off and they made it very clear that they were not just there to hand over the cash, they wanted to invest time and money into the business and help us realise its amazing potential. It was this combination of factors that made them the natural choice for us and we can’t wait to start working together.
So, who are Livingbridge?
Livingbridge are highly respected private equity firm who have a track record of growing the companies they invest in. Over the past 20 years they’ve helped turn many businesses into household names – brands such as Crew Clothing Company, MORI and Fat Face.
What changes will CUL see?
Externally you won’t see any significant changes. The existing management team will remain in control of the business and I will remain as Managing Director. Internally there will be significant investments in IT, staff training and products. We will also be looking to work closely with our insurer partners so we can provide our brokers with even greater levels of value and service.
And what about company culture, will that change given you have new investors?
Definitely not. One of things that Livingbridge really liked about the business was our culture and our commitment to positive outcomes for all. I think that one of the things that struck them was that our values – collaborative, innovative. professional, integrity and WOW – aren’t platitudes, or something that was cooked up in the marketing department but are a reflection of what we do day-in-day-out. The whole point of the buyout is that the existing management team can run the business as we want to run it and our values and the culture they create are at the centre of that.
CUL has enjoyed significant organic growth. Why is that do you think?
CUL has enjoyed significant organic growth and I think that’s in-part because of the specialist nature of the business and its exceptional, speedy service, but also because it has always been an owner-managed business. To a business owner 1% or 2% growth simply isn’t enough and with CUL you have always had a business owner that is constantly pushing for growth by continually looking to develop their service and give their customers more. The buyout of the Group can only boost this appetite for growth, and with new investment available the sky’s the limit.
So, you’d expect growth to accelerate now?
Absolutely, we’re now in a position where we can put our foot on the accelerator and really push for growth. We’ve big plans for CUL, ones we’re now in a position to fully exploit.
What’s your vision for the CUL?
My vision remains the same as it has been over the past few years. The buyout is about giving the management team the investment capacity to do more rather than to instigate some radical departure from what we have always done. My vision is to put in place an infrastructure through which CUL can distribute insurance to brokers and allow the business to become a major player in the industry. Put simply: we’re going to build an awesome team and an awesome business.
Thank you, Bob, and good luck for the future.