Just four years ago, RfM client ST&R comprised a compact team of 15 insurance specialists, occupying, let’s say a ‘cosy’ office space in Chorley. But what the business lacked in decor and facilities, it more than made up for in enthusiasm and drive. Fast-forward to 2016 and the headcount and profit forecasts have grown at a whiplash-inducing rate. So, what is the secret to ST&R’s impressive numbers?
Although ST&R is still a relatively new company, its story begins over 20 years ago. Following a £10 bet by a friend, a young man called James Slater found himself applying to work in a bank. He got the job – and the £10 – and soon discovered that he had a head for figures and a gift for dealing with the bank’s customers. From this first rung on his finance career ladder, James held a series of senior roles at well known companies including HFC, Argos Financial Services and Freemans Grattan.
In 2012, by this time regarded as an expert in insurance and protection products, with established relationships across the sector, James decided it was time to realise a dream to run his own insurance business.
Initially, the company was unlicensed and could therefore only act as an introducer to other, regulated insurance companies. In keeping with the office space, the first year’s turnover was modest at £400k – but with £470k set-up and running costs, it was a slow start.
It would be the development of an original, cloud-based service that would mark the first turning point in the company’s fortunes.
Our Insurance Vault was developed as a ‘virtual’ filing cabinet where householders could store copies of their important insurance documents. The Vault, offered as a free service, gave ST&R an opportunity to offer competitive insurance renewal prices to the customer and saw them rapidly grow their customer base over the next few years.
Turning point number two would be the acquisition of a licensed business that would take ST&R in a new and much more profitable direction.
Autumn 2013 saw the now 40 members of staff moving to a much larger office which was re-configured to fit the business and includes meeting and training rooms, a call centre and a compliance room.
As the business started to grow beyond initial projections, James and his wife Natasha, the Finance Director of ST&R, called on their advisors at RfM Preston for their expertise and support.
Partner Gillian Isibor and her team worked closely with Natasha and the ST&R finance department to help them put bespoke robust accounting systems and processes in place. “ST&R has grown very rapidly in a relatively short time. We’ve aimed to future-proof their accounting systems so that they can accommodate even more success,” explained Gillian.
RfM has also advised on tax matters, staff policies and payroll, and provided ongoing training and support as the team has grown.
“Gillian and her team have been really supportive to ST&R, guiding us on tax and other issues. I value their expertise and advice; they share my passion for the business – but they also help me keep my feet on the ground,” said James.
By the end of the financial year 14/15, ST&R were operating firmly in the black and had to move yet again to even larger premises. In 2016, the business expects to turnover £8 million with the help of its now 50-strong team.
This year represents another phase for the business as ST&R focuses on what it can do for its corporate customers, namely business owners, directors and other key people. Products such as Key Person Protection, Shareholder Protection and Relevant Life Plans can help ensure that a business isn’t negatively affected in the event of the worst happening and in many cases, can be treated as an allowable business expense by HMRC.
If you would like to talk about how RfM can help with the growth of your business, please contact Gillian Isibor on 01772 431233.
To arrange a business protection health check from ST&R, please enquire online.