6th February 2018 marks 100 years of the Representation of the People Act 1918, a legislation which enabled all men and some women over the age of 30 to vote for the very first time, and paved the way for women striving for equality ever since. Significant change can be seen since this legislation, especially in the 2017 general election when more than 200 female MPs were elected to House of Commons for the first time, winning 208 out of 650 seats.
The position of women in the insurance industry has also changed dramatically as well during this time, positively moving women towards a position of recognition, and equality.
In the first half of the 19th Century, the insurance office was exclusively a male dominated workplace. Women were only allowed into the office if their husbands had passed away and they were taking on the family business, however, accounts of these are minimal. The earliest known female agent to work within the insurance office was Ms Barnes, who was appointed in 1822 to take over her late husband’s business. Following this, the insurance office became ‘feminised’, as women were employed exclusively in clerical roles. In 1871, the first female clerks were hired at The Prudential, providing ‘Industrial Insurance’ (life insurance) during the Industrial Revolution. This opened women’s entry into the insurance industry.
However, women working as clerks enabled other males to easily ‘climb the insurance ladder’ whilst maintaining a cheaper female labour force. Not only were the employment limitations taking its toll on the female work force; they also had the challenge of Victorian notion of gender roles. The ideal surrounding women was that they should remain at home, providing for their husbands and children. Any kind of employment was carried out within the home, therefore making office work ‘unfeminine’.
Many attitudes began to change during the First World War (1914-18), with the majority of young males being enrolled into the army, women were relied upon to preserve the workforce at home. This experience encouraged the suffragettes to fight for equal rights, including the right to vote. This consequently lead to the Representation of the People’s Act in 1918, after the war had ended, and women continued to integrate themselves into the insurance industry. The CII bar on women sitting exams at the CII was lifted in 1919, and the first female fellow of the CII was appointed in 1921.
Lloyd’s of London was the final barrier that women had to overcome in the insurance industry. Prior to 1970, women were not permitted to underwriting memberships and it wasn’t until 1973 that women were permitted to work in the underwriting room. Liliana Archibald was the first female broker to be appointed by Lloyd’s. She then became Lloyd’s first female ‘Name’ (this term was used to describe rich individuals who backed policies written at Lloyd’s with all of their personal wealth and took on unlimited liability).
The Sex Discrimination Act was passed in 1975, which protected people from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status. Margaret Thatcher also became the UK’s first female prime minister in 1979.
The 2000s marked a huge change in women’s position in the insurance industry. Lillian Boyle was appointed the first female CII president in 2001, and was succeeded by Amanda Blanc in 2012. Sian Fisher became the first female CEO for the CII as well in 2016.
Lloyd’s of London also appointed Inga Beale as their first female CEO in their 328-year history. A third of Lloyd’s workforce are now female. Beale has spoken about creating diversity in the industry, stating: “What you do is, you de-genderise every statement you make. You’re in a business environment; you de-gender everything. You never say he or she”. Beale has been heavily involved with the Inclusion@Lloyds initiative, and has launched the Pride@Lloyds, which is an internal LGBT resource group.
Despite these successes, there is still a long way to go before true equality is achieved. Lloyd’s of London is currently two-thirds male, 90% white and 90% British, and Beale has stated her ideas and initiatives to tackle this. The gender pay gap is also another major issue, which has recently been raised by major corporations such as the BBC, with women earning around 76 to 80 per cent of what their male colleagues make, according to a 2017 survey by Glassdoor. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, this gap would not be closed for another 170 years.
Miles Smith announces proposed acquisition by Pollen Street Capital
Miles Smith is very pleased to announce the proposed acquisition of a majority shareholding in the business by funds managed by Pollen Street Capital (PSC), a private equity firm specialising in the financial services sector. The transaction is subject to approval by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Miles Smith is one of the UK’s leading schemes and affinities brokers and can trace its origins back to 1925. It is currently ranked in the country’s top 40 brokers and employs over 220 insurance, claims and risk management specialists, together with customer service and support staff. Its head office is situated in London and it also has offices in Suffolk and Bedfordshire. The Group writes in excess of £170 million GWP annually.
Miles Smith is a market wide problem solver for its customers, brokers, affinity partners and insurers. It leverages strong market relationships and has used its extensive industry expertise to develop quality, complex schemes and solutions for high risk industries, offering them to market through its diverse distribution channels.
The current company was formed following a re-structuring in 2000 under the stewardship of Paul Chainey (CEO). Paul remains head of the company today and, during that time, has overseen a number of successful acquisitions and led a specialist team providing an impressive and consistent organic growth rate.
To achieve its next stage of growth, Miles Smith worked with Deloitte’s Financial Services M&A Advisory team to present the opportunity to potential investors wishing to participate in a business with strong fundamentals and growth potential alongside an experienced and skilled management team and workforce. Miles Smith carefully selected a partner who they felt would support the business through this next exciting phase and who could facilitate retiring and exiting shareholders. They are now entering the final stages of the deal with investors PSC and, subject to regulatory approval, hope to complete in the first quarter of 2018.
PSC is a fund manager, which is focused on investing in businesses in the financial and business services sectors. They have invested over £1.2bn in a range of businesses across all stages of development, such as Moneycorp (provider of international payment and retail travel money products), Shawbrook (challenger bank), and Arrow Global (debt purchaser) to name but a few.
Ian Gascoigne – PSC Partner says “Miles Smith is a client centric business, which has an attractive market position within its focus areas of specialist insurance distribution. We are excited by the opportunity to invest in the expansion of a unique and specialist business like Miles Smith.
We share a common view of the opportunities for the business and as a potential future shareholder, we look forward to leveraging our experience and network within the UK financial services sector to support Miles Smith through its next phase of growth, building on the strong reputation and deep industry expertise the business has developed to date.”
PSC represents a unique combination of financial resources, hands-on approach, extensive experience of backing specialty financial services businesses, and involvement in adjacent sectors which creates an environment in which the growth of their portfolio companies can accelerate.
Paul Chainey – Miles Smith CEO says “PSC offers a great solution for shareholders, staff and Miles Smith’s strong market relationships. Miles Smith has many large and exciting opportunities, which we are determined to pursue with the strategic investment of our new partner and the PSC investment provides a spring board for these opportunities to crystallise and take Miles Smith to another level. Their portfolio of investments reflects values shared by Miles Smith in that they work with expert specialist businesses. They have a good track record of supporting the management teams of their investee businesses and we look forward to a long and successful partnership. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank MS Amlin and our retiring shareholders for their contribution to the business.”
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Group Distribution and Marketing Director
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