UK should ‘shout about the insurance industry a bit more’: Howden boss

UK should ‘shout about the insurance industry a bit more’: Howden boss

Howden reported a strong set of results as the broker continues to grow thanks to both organic expansion and acquisitions

ONE of the City’s leading insurance bosses called on the UK to “shout about” the world leading industry “a bit more.”

“The London market is the only proper insurance market in the world, all the innovation starts here,” David Howden told City A.M. this morning after the insurance broker bearing his name posted another strong set of annual results. 

Revenue was up 33 per cent year on year to just shy of £2.5bn driven by a combination of double-digit organic growth and a raft of acquisitions. 

The firm completed 56 acquisitions last year, five of them over £25m. 

Howden also announced the poaching of London Stock Exchange exec David Shalders as the firm’s first group chief operating officer to sit on the board.

Adjusted consolidated EBITDA was up 30 per cent to £780m. 

Howden said the firm’s growth was a “great City story” and a sign of the increasingly important role of the insurance and reinsurance industry as the world becomes a more volatile place. 

The firm launched its first carbon capture and storage leakage facility last year, one of a number of moves to position the broker at the heart of what Howden calls the green transition. 

“We know capital has to be invested (for the world to go green) and the insurance industry can take the risk off the balance sheet” to allow that to happen, he said. 

Howden also played a vital dealmaking role in efforts that eventually allowed the UN to remove more than a million barrels of oil from a stranded ship in Yemen last year. 

Chief financial officer Mark Craig told City A.M. that the firm’s growth plans had been “very well supported” by equity investors as well as the capital markets, with the firm confirming it had refinanced post year-end to take advantage of “positive market conditions.” 

“If we look back just three years, when we had just broken through the £1bn revenue mark, we set out our intentions to be a leader in our home market, the UK, to be strong in reinsurance, to strengthen our European platform, and to accelerate our global specialty business,” Howden said in a statement

“Three years later and we are the second largest insurance broker in the UK – the biggest in reach; we have moved to become one of the four top tier reinsurance brokers; and we’re the largest independent global player in Europe; and in global specialty we have hired hundreds of people across the world creating a team of 2,000.”

CEO Howden, whose firm is sponsoring the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, said the first weekend of the Guinness Six Nations had whetted his appetite for the tour down under.

“It’s hugely exciting,” he said of the firm’s partnership with the iconic rugby side.

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