ProtectionJul 27 2021

Protection broker reaps benefits of becoming 'fintech scale-up'

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Protection broker reaps benefits of becoming 'fintech scale-up'
ByRuby Hinchliffe

Protection broker LifeSearch has posted a 47 per cent hike in profit before tax to £3.5m for the year to August 2020.

Founder and chief executive Tom Baigrie - set to step down later this year - put the increase down to LifeSearch’s “significant investment” in its transition to become a “fintech scale-up”.

"As consumers grow ever more keen on trading online, so we develop our online solutions to serve them best there," Baigrie told FTAdviser.

"Our phone based advice will always be a core strength and service, but it now supports our own online price comparison and trading service, as well as our super-brand partners."

Back in 2016, the protection business underwent a restructure after Baigrie’s other business was sold to Standard Life. Since then, LifeSearch has posted a consistent rise in pre-tax profits, from £1.6m in 2016, to £2.4m in 2019.

Last year, the firm’s turnover was up 10 per cent to £47.6m, gross profit was up 7 per cent to £11.6m, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 24 per cent to £4.4m.

Between August 2019 and 2020, LifeSearch said it issued protection products to 220,000 individuals and some 100,000 families. It also reported a near-double (48 per cent) increase in its website traffic during the period.

“Our tech and marketing teams have grown at a similar rate [to our website] as we complete our transition to being most accurately described as a ‘fintech scale-up’ in the protection space,” said Baigrie.

“Notwithstanding significant progress in tech and brand recognition, our people and culture remain our greatest assets, and we continue to invest heavily in improving their skills and developing their careers.”

Baigrie is set to be replaced by Debbie Kennedy as chief executive after setting up the life insurance broker 23 years ago.

Kennedy currently heads up LV’s protection arm and will begin at Lifesearch’s helm at the beginning of November.

At Royal London, one of Kennedy’s previous employers, Baigrie said she “led the team that utterly transformed Royal London from a dormant brand into a market leader”.

LifeSearch, founded in 1998, employs 500 workers. To date, it claims to have protected more than 1m lives across the UK.

The broker covers life insurance, critical illness cover, income protection, family income benefit, serious illness cover and business insurance.

With Kennedy at the helm, Baigrie will now “concentrate more” on partnerships, marketing, PR, and "better connecting the dots between consumers and advisers".

“A supply side revolution is what’s needed, with training and support for every protection adviser so that talking about income protection to clients who’ve never heard or thought of disability insurance becomes second nature,” Baigrie told FTAdviser.