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How did ABL Group’s huge WTW deal come about?

All the stars aligned” to make the current contract between GRP’s Northern Ireland broker ABL Group and Willis Towers Watson (WTW) come together so well, according to ABL Group’s CEO Maurice Boyd (pictured). Upon culmination, the agreement will see WTW’s commercial risk and broking business in Northern Ireland integrated into ABL, with all the WTW staff comprising the £57 million portfolios so set to follow suit.

Boyd noted that the procedure came together quite generally as WTW was looking to make some strategic adjustments and he was personally very interested when the opportunity became available. Three decades of broking in Northern Ireland had consented him a keen insight into the key players in the marketplace, he said, and WTW certainly is one of those players, as a business with the well-earned status of a strong client book, high-quality and skilled team, and tremendous retention.

The deal is extremely much a good news story, Boyd reported as it is a growth sale, not a cost-cutting investment and the jobs of everybody on both sides of the transaction are secure. Looking at what this means for both now (circa) the 170-strong team’s strong nearsightedness shows that this is an opportunity for a “new beginning” for everybody. Neither ABL’s nor WTW’s prevailing Northern Ireland premises would be ideal for this significant staffing pool, he said, which has provided him and his team the chance to source new premises for the communal operation.

The deal has pushed ABL’s total GWP through the £100 million GWP obstacle and given it a leading market position in the Northern Ireland broking area, something Boyd and his team are determined to capitalize on. The ambition is there, he said, and it’s disseminated across the ABL team and the incoming WTW team, and it will proceed to center on a mixture of both organic and acquisitive growth.

Organic growth underpins the improvement of the business, he said and remains the key measure of how successful ABL is in creating and retaining strong customer relationships and providing excellent client outcomes. Meanwhile, acquisitions are done on a strategic basis for a variety of reasons and while the WTW deal is one of significant scale, it’s not the end of the line for ABL’s deal-making ambitions and the firm remains open to any new opportunities that spring up.

ABL’s growth objectives have been supported by GRP, Boyd noted, whom the company first linked within 2015. When that accession occurred, he said, GRP’s management team summarized how they saw the GRP model working in terms of helping ABL as a business. This went beyond day-to-day employment in terms of strategic plans, human resources and insurance products to comprise support from an accession perspective. That conception, which was first summarized to his team six years ago, has been delivered, he said, and the partnership between GRP and ABL has been a true achievement story – with both sides funding and strengthening the other.

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