THE acquisition of one of Scotland’s biggest independent insurance brokers Clark Thomson by Jelf, a subsidiary of global financial services giant Marsh, has brought a boost to revenues and a host of new jobs for senior figures within the organisation.

The Jelf merger, bringing together 14 offices with more than 200 staff across Scotland, as well as a flagship premises in the centre of Glasgow has signalled a new surge of growth for the company.

So far this year it is approaching double last year’s rate of growth of five per cent.

Catherine Kelly, Jelf director for Scotland, said: “We all came together in this office at George Square on the second of July last year.

"When I say 'we', there was five teams of people. So, you had the Clark Thomson people. You had the Marsh guys who then became Jelf, and effectively, you had three offices of Jelf.

So, that was five teams of us all coming together in this one office.

“In total, there's about 77 people within this office. We are brokers who look after commercial insurances, covering personal insurances as well. We also have employee benefits, and risk management, and we also have invested in high net worth as well, which is a growth for Jelf.

“In terms of some of the challenges over the last year is the fact that it's five different teams coming together, it's probably the culture. I think that'll have been a bit of a challenge."

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Smooth transition is a consideration for clients, as well as staff, with plans to rebrand as Marsh Commercial next year.

She said that as change continued in the background, following acquisitions, the firm’s role included reassuring clients that “their business is still important to us”.

The staff ensured business continuity. She said: “If you dealt with an account executive as part of Jelf on the Friday, come the Monday you still dealt with the same people and still the same internal people.

“I guess that's the most important thing, is that we make sure that we keep the business that we've got.

“The other, obviously, is to grow the business.

“Again, because it's the five teams coming together, that's not always easy. What we have done is, after being together for that length of time, it gave me the opportunity really see what we wanted to do about our branch directors and sales leaders.

“There was a number of people that I felt could do this job, as opposed to going externally. We've now got a new team in place, and that's all internal promotion.”

It includes a new branch director, development director and client service director.

“Also as part of Jelf, which is one of the benefits of being part of a larger organisation is that we really can offer our clients everything.

“In terms of employee benefits, we have someone who's actually sitting in there, in our office in Glasgow, who'll come out and speak to our clients about their private healthcare, death in service, or just what they want to do with their employees in terms of employee engagement.

“It differentiates ourselves from other brokers, as well, that we've actually got that at our fingertips."

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Ms Kelly, who has been with the firm under Clark Thomson for seven years and was at Willis for 11 years, said: “We also have our own risk management team. We can introduce our risk management guys to our clients. We're looking at their insurance program, and maybe looking at their claims frequency, or how we can help in the health and safety.

“High net worth is a growth area, which is for high-end household insurance and private cars.

“Just about 15 months ago, Jelf recognised it as a growth area. We appointed an account exec, specifically for high net worth. Again, when you're out seeing a commercial client, there's nothing better than introducing someone who is an expert in that field. Again, it enhances our proposition."

She said: “For a number of our insurers, we will be their largest client. For example, for Allianz, AXA and Aviva, Jelf will be their largest broker in Scotland.

“With that brings good relationships, good partnerships. We meet with insurers on a regular basis. We encourage tri-party meetings. Quite often with clients, we will involve the insurer if we think that's applicable and appropriate. It's just that tri-party agreement, to make sure that we get the best cover and the best deal for our clients.

“If you look at the growth for last year, despite everything that's going on in the background, we still managed to service our clients and grow. Last year, we grew by 5%, and this year, to date, we've grown by 9%.

“We need to ensure we keep entertaining those clients, by offering things like the employee benefits, the risk management, it all enhances our overall proposition.”

Ms Kelly, 57, listed a number of recent wins, including: “Pearsons of Duns, they're a coal and log merchant, also dealing with stoves and own a couple of gardening centres. It's a family-run business. We were invited in to review their insurances. We completed a full review, identified some gaps and exposures, and recommendations, and we were appointed as a broker.”

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She said: “It's some journey, but I think there's still a lot of growth here.

“There are a number of initiatives. We deal with all kinds of insurances. We do have a lot of businesses in the care sector. We do have a lot of businesses within the consultancy sector.

“One example is Scottish Motor Trade Association. That was a new client that we won whilst we were being acquired. It was an amazing win, actually, and we were able to deliver a proposition to the client.

“The SMT has 1300 members. There's 1300 opportunities, and we've had about a 20% penetration just now. We won that case from a broker, who's been the broker for 15 years.

“One of the reasons that we won that case was to do with the fact of our geographical stretch. With the Clark Thomson offices, we now have 14 Jelf offices in Scotland. That coverage, in terms of SMT, kind of mirrored what they were looking for from a broker.”


Q What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

A It’s got to be France. We have spent our summer holidays visiting Loire Valley over the past 10 years, and enjoy the weather, the wine, the food and taking the dog.

Q When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

A I always wanted to be a teacher, because I think I liked the idea of telling people what to do and they would listen to me.

Q What was your biggest break in business?

A A colleague lost his licence for six months and I was asked to take over his role as account manager and he took over my role as underwriter. This role was external. I was very successful and was then offered the job on a permanent basis and never looked back.

Q What was your worst moment in business?

A Failing to deliver excellent client service.

Q Who do you most admire and why?

A My daughter Lauren, who is a hard working nurse.

Q What book are you reading and what music are you listening to? What was the last film you saw?

A Getting to Yes: Negotiating an agreement without giving in, by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Ed Sheeran. The Lion King.