Kingsbridge announces the appointment of James Twining as Group Chief Executive

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Kingsbridge Group, the UK’s leading provider of specialist insurance services to contractors, freelancers and the recruitment and utilities industries, has appointed James Twining as its Group Chief Executive with immediate effect.

Most recently, James was Group Commercial Director of Jardine Lloyd Thompson plc (JLT), a role encompassing group strategy, M&A and marketing.  During his time there, James also acted as Chairman and Chief Executive of its former Thistle subsidiary.  James joined JLT in 2011 from McKinsey & Co. and was appointed to its main Board in 2012.

Following James’ appointment, Steve Wynne, Kingsbridge’s founder and Chief Executive, has been appointed Deputy Chairman.  Steve will continue to work in the business full time with a particular focus on supporting relationships with key clients, partners and insurers as well as helping the team deliver key strategic growth initiatives.

Commenting on James’ appointment, Ian Owen, Chairman of Kingsbridge, said: “I am delighted to welcome James to Kingsbridge.  He has a proven track record as an entrepreneurial client leader with extensive experience of driving innovation, M&A and international expansion.  His appointment is a clear statement of Kingsbridge’s growth ambitions and a powerful endorsement of the attractiveness of our prospects and platform.  I would also like to thank Steve for his outstanding tenure as Chief Executive and look forward to continuing to benefit from his experience and entrepreneurial drive.”

James Twining, Chief Executive of Kingsbridge, said: “Kingsbridge is one of the most exciting opportunities in the insurance market today.  Not only does it benefit from an outstanding client-focused team that is powered by deep specialist knowledge, an unrivalled partner network and the latest digital approaches, but it is also targeting a large and rapidly growing market driven by fundamental changes in how clients are looking to work, provide employment and protect their businesses.  I am delighted to be joining the business at this pivotal time in its development and look forward to working with Ian, Steve and the rest of the team.”

Steve Wynne, Kingsbridge’s founder and Deputy Chairman, said:  “I am delighted to welcome James to Kingsbridge.  His appointment will help the Group to maintain its strong growth momentum and take advantage of the many strategic and commercial opportunities on offer to us.  Along with the rest of the team, I look forward to working with James and continuing to build on the success of the past 16 years.”

Autumn Statement 2016 – The Kingsbridge Reaction

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Despite all the political, social, and economic doom and gloom that wrapped around 2016 like a suffocating vine, Britain’s self-employed continued to rage against the dying of the light. Damian Hinds, the current Employment Minister, recently hailed “the resilience of the UK labour market”, citing the fact that Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.8% – its lowest level in over a decade. Coupled with that, the Office of National Statistics’ employment report for July – September 2016 revealed that the number of self-employed rose to 4.79 million, an increase of 213,000 for the year. That figure now equates to over 15% of the total UK workforce.

Why mention the above? Because instead of the recognition and support they deserve, contractors, freelancers and the self-employed found themselves under sustained attack in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

Yesterday marked Phillip Hammond’s inaugural bow as Chancellor and the first real chance the Theresa May-led government has had to properly acknowledge the sterling contribution independent workers have made, and continue to make, to the economic landscape of the UK and beyond. Instead, they chose to press ahead with the punitive, widely condemned and wholly unfair IR35 measures first announced in the 2016 Budget.

The government has chosen to ignore the advice of innumerable businesses, lobby groups, and the freelance community as a whole. Mr. Hammond stated at the beginning of his speech that he was “investing today for the economy of tomorrow”, a comment which now seems rather hollow in light of his decision to overlook the economic contribution of the self-employed and his willingness to press ahead with a crackdown on IR35 in the public sector (despite their significant involvement in driving employment rates to a record high). For a detailed breakdown of the possible impact those changes will have look no further than this excellent article from Brookson, published in August.

Steve Wynne, Kingsbridge CEO, echoed the dissatisfaction expressed by many after reading the full Autumn Statement 2016 document:

“The Autumn Statement should have been a time to celebrate the contribution of freelancers and contractors to the UK’s economic landscape, but instead they found themselves under attack in a move that is likely to harm our flexible economy. The government’s continued myopia when it comes to the influence of the self-employed remains mystifying, and I echo the sentiments of others in the community when I say that my disappointment in Mr. Hammond’s apparent ignorance is profound.”

Chris Bryce, the Chief Executive of IPSE, expressed further concern about the Chancellor’s announcement of a consultation on how to increase the amount of tax taken from the self-employed:

“There was no recognition for the immense contribution the self-employed make to the economy. Having trumpeted the lowest unemployment rate for 11 years, ironically the Chancellor has launched an attack on the group largely responsible for this record.

IPSE will continue to fight for the contracting community which has been badly let down by a self-described pro-business Government.”

In a further blow, the 5% tax-free allowance for business expenses will be removed from off-payroll workers in the public sector. Julia Kermode, chief executive of the FCSA, joined others in voicing her disappointment:

“The new complexities around IR35 status means that professional contractors and interims will be forced into making deemed payments throughout the year, which in turn means that they will need more accountancy support going forwards to reconcile their financial affairs, and therefore more justification for the 5% allowance.  Once again the hardworking freelancers and contractors who are propping up the UK economy are being penalised.”

Furthermore, for payroll and umbrella firms the reforms to IR35 legislation are a real risk. They face significant changes to working practices and contracts in the coming months with the threat of investigation looming larger than ever. There’s a real risk that UK contractors and the self-employed will think twice about their status as flexible workers, putting the entire industry in a precarious position.

The Chancellor also went on to announce an increase in Insurance Premium Tax, due to come into force from June 2017. Currently at 10%, IPT will rise again to 12%, meaning it will have doubled in little more than a year. The Association of British Insurers called it “a hammer blow for the hard pressed that will hit consumers and businesses alike”. The government are set to make over £4 billion from the increase, which surely raises another question: Is it really necessary to try and collect a further £115 million through tax deductions from the self-employed, when their status as a fundamental part of the UK economy is unquestionable?

And what of the broader picture? With economic growth predictions for 2017 dramatically reduced the statement was, as usual, a mixed bag for the UK business community.

One obvious win for both SMEs and big business alike came with the reduction in corporation tax and a new rate of 17% rate in force by 2020. Less of an announcement and more of a confirmation of George Osbourne’s earlier promise.

The biggest single commitment came with the announcement of a new national productivity investment fund. £23bn will be spent on supporting research and development and innovation in the UK with a further £2bn a year promised by 2020/21.

These and the other investment schemes announced clearly can’t all be funded from the public purse.  The private sector needs to be a major contributor and Mr. Hammond said as much himself.  Aiming to curb the number of British firms being bought out by overseas firms £400m is being made available for venture capital firms.

Other measures introduced included an extension of the government’s plan to tackle use of disguised remuneration schemes by employers and employees to also cover the use of such schemes by the self-employed. Penalties will also be put in place to capture enablers of tax avoidance schemes.

While an increase in the national living wage (from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour) is a welcome move, it means hard-pressed UK firms will see an increase in their wage bills.  This was eased, in part, by the tax relief being made available for smaller firms in rural areas increasing up to £2,900 per year.

However, the “complicated but good news” in the form of transitional relief remains a mystery today, confirming opinions that this was very much a ‘devil in the detail’ statement.

As always with these announcements, things may change. Until the amendments announced here actually come into play anything is possible. However, it’s safe to say that, with the absence of the reprieve many hoped for on changes to IR35 legislation, the outlook for self-employed workers in the public sector continues to be less than positive.

Here at Kingsbridge we will continue to remain vocal in our support of contractors, freelancers, and the self-employed despite the government’s apparent ambivalence to their essential economic contribution.

What did you think of this year’s Autumn Statement? Let us know in the comments below.

Breaking News – Insurance Premium Tax Increase

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The new Chancellor, Phillip Hammond has just finished delivering his Autumn Statement, and with it, announced a further increase to Insurance Premium Tax (IPT).

IPT is set to rise from 10% to 12% in June 2017, the third increase in less than two years. BIBA (The British Insurance Brokers Association) have slammed the increase as ‘Outrageous’, having previously lobbied parliament, demanding no further increases.

Kingsbridge will be commenting on this and the Chancellor’s other announcements in an Autumn Statement round up shortly.

The Insurance Act 2015

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From 12th August 2016, new legislation comes into force that will apply to all commercial insurance contracts arranged or amended after the date.

The UK government has described The Insurance Act as

“the biggest reform to insurance contract law in more than a century”

With the changes affecting all of our commercial clients, Kingsbridge have produced an information sheet on the changes and what they mean, which you can download here.

If you have any questions or concerns about the new legislation and its impact on your insurance contracts, please don’t hesitate to contact your account manager at Kingsbridge.

Britain Exits The EU: The Kingsbridge Position

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In the event of the UK public’s decision to leave the European Union, Kingsbridge would like to put on record our thoughts. In a recent survey conducted with our contractor client base the majority of those questioned preferred to remain in the EU. As we now know, this will not be the case. Nevertheless, we do not foresee a British exit having any major impact on our clients, all of whom are headquartered/based in the UK.

Many contractors that we spoke to were forthright in their belief that their unique skillsets and job suitability will remain in demand in the event of a Brexit, and we support that assertion. As one particular respondee noted: The right skills are always required.

With regard to our corporate and commercial clients, we see no major impact to the UK water industry in the immediate future, although there may be less regulation over time once a Brexit is complete. For the insolvency practitioners we work with we also expect very little in the way of change.

Whilst it is difficult to predict the consequences, positive or negative, of a Brexit at this early stage Kingsbridge will stand behind all of our clients and partners whatever the future holds. Over time we may see some large employers and users of freelance contractors (banks, the aerospace industry, the automotive industry and so on) impacted by loss of business which may in turn have an impact on their use of contractors, but it remains too early to tell. The freedom to set our own terms that a British exit allows our country could well lead to an economic landscape stronger than we have ever experienced before.

Kingsbridge will continue to watch as this historic, once-in-a-generation event unfolds, and we will support every single one of our clients as required.

High profile cyber attacks back in the news

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In 2012, LinkedIn was a victim of a major cyber attack and data theft which they believed had been fully addressed at the time. Last month they published a press release and sent an email to all of their members advising them of a further breach of their data security.

It has emerged that the extent of the 2012 breach was far greater than previously thought and LinkedIn have advised that in excees of 100 million LinkedIn members could have been affected by a second release of secure member details in May 2016.

With cyber attacks on the rise and cyber criminals constamtly evolving in order to overcome security measures have you considered the impact a cyber attack could have on your bsuiness.

Most are unaware that a traditional commercial insurance policy is extremely unlikely to protect against cyber exposures and related damages and costs. Our Cyber Attack information sheet is free to download and provides information of the kind of risks all businesses are exposed to with details of real life claims and the colutions available to you, should your business be exposed.

You can download it for free here.

More information on the LinkedIn cyber attack and what to do if you think you have been affected is available on their blog

 

 

 

 

 

Dunedin continues to grow its financial services portfolio with investment in Kingsbridge

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Dunedin backs secondary buyout from Livingbridge

1st June 2016 – Dunedin, the UK mid-market private equity house, today announced that it has backed the buyout of Kingsbridge Risk Solutions (Kingsbridge), an insurance broker for contractors and corporates.  The transaction, sees Livingbridge, the mid-market private equity firm that backed Kingsbridge in January 2014, fully exit the business.

This is Dunedin’s second investment in the financial services sector this year, following the buyout of Alpha Financial Markets Consulting in February 2016.

Founded by the current CEO Steve Wynne in 2001, Kingsbridge is the UK’s market-leading provider of insurance services that are tailored to meet the needs of contractors, freelancers and independent professionals, as well as the compliance requirements of partners including recruiters and accountants. Working alongside its strong partner network, Kingsbridge covers the broadest range of industry sectors in its market, including aerospace, banking and finance, rail, automotive, nuclear, oil and gas and information technology.

The company, which employs 55 people, is headquartered in Tewksbury, Gloucestershire, and has offices in Liverpool and Guernsey. Over the last two years, Kingsbridge has more than doubled EBITDA and almost doubled revenues to c.£7 million.

Following this investment by Dunedin, Kingsbridge will continue to grow through expansion into new sectors and through the introduction of new insurance products that are tailored for the contractor market.  The business will also focus on international expansion, enabling it to offer insurance to contractors that operate overseas.

Giles Derry, Partner at Dunedin, who will join the Kingsbridge board at completion, commented: “Kingsbridge represents an opportunity for us to invest in a UK ‘hidden champion’  – a business that is still at the early stages of its development but has already proven its business plan and established a strong position in a fast growing market. We very much look forward to working with the Kingsbridge team to help them capitalise on the significant growth prospects that lie ahead.”

Oliver Bevan, Partner at Dunedin, who co-led the Kingsbridge and Alpha deals and who will also join the Kingsbridge board at completion, added: “Dunedin has developed significant expertise and experience in Financial Services and we are very pleased to have backed two exciting businesses from the sector in the last two months. We were able to draw on our sector expertise to identify this investment opportunity, and as a result the deal was conducted off-market.”

Steve Wynne, founder and CEO of Kingsbridge, commented:

“We have achieved significant growth in the last two to three years and the time is now right to take the business into the next phase of its development. Having considered the various options available to us, we have chosen Dunedin as our investment partner as we feel that they will enable us to maintain our pace of growth, retain our independence and nurture our entrepreneurial spirit.

We have a clear vision for Kingsbridge and are confident that, with Dunedin’s support, we can build on our market leading position.”

Andrew Garside, Partner at Livingbridge said:

“It has been great to see Kingsbridge develop into the business it is today. Since our investment Kingsbridge has gone from strength to strength, nearly doubling its profits, capitalising on the market opportunity available. We are confident Kingsbridge will continue to expand its potential and we look forward to seeing the business build on the success that it has had to date.”