‘Perceptive Underwriting’

5th Anniversary Dinner - Full text of Colin Thompson’s speech


“Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, good evening and welcome to the Nexus five year anniversary thank you dinner.

For those of you I haven’t met, my name is Colin Thompson and I am the Chief Executive Officer of Nexus.

Exactly five years ago today, myself and the five very patient colleagues opened the doors of Nexus for the very first time. As I’m sure you can remember these were turbulent economic times with some of world’s best known and well established financial institutions in total meltdown.  Many predicted we wouldn’t last a year in this climate, especially as an MGA.

Fortunately these people were wrong, but it wasn’t just me who proved them wrong, it was every person in this room, with the exception of Sir Ranulph that has helped make Nexus the success that it is today.  Together we have made sure that we are here today in this magnificent hall to celebrate our 5th anniversary.  On behalf of the board of Nexus I thank each and every one of you for your support and help over the years.

Five years is both a long time and a short time.  Compared to Lloyd’s of London’s magnificent 325 year history, our achievements are modest and our company is still adolescent.  On the other hand, 5 years in a sector that is rapidly changing and evolving is an achievement that we can be immensely proud of.  It means that we have established ourselves.  In fact, what we have done is build the largest independent speciality MGA in the London market.

From our humble beginnings in 2008, we now employ over 60 people and underwrite in excess of US$ 100 million per annum and now have a policy count in excess of 20,000 insureds.  We are also proud to represent  our 13 underwriting partners, most of whom are here this evening.  It is also no mean feat, and of great credit to the team we have assembled, that every single quarter since we started has returned a profit – a remarkable achievement in a soft market.

The insurance industry has also begun to recognise our success.  This year, Nexus CIFS – our trade credit subsidiary, won credit insurer of the year at the British Credit Awards.  The Nexus Group has also been short listed for MGA of the year at the British Insurance Awards and also by Insurance Times.

So it seems therefore appropriate that we are marking this Nexus milestone in such a splendid building.

Fishmongers Hall can in fact trace its origins back over 700 years, with the original hall located a few hundred feet from here.  The hall we are sitting in was actually built in 1835 but was extensively refurbished following considerable damage during World War Two.

For those history buffs among us, the hall has many treasures including the actual dagger with which the most famous Fishmonger of all, Sir William Walworth, ended the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381 by stabbing Wat Tyler to death, in the presence of KingRichard II no less – an act which allegedly pushed back 1000 democracy years.

Another example of historic construction is London Bridge, just outside the hall. The original timber framed structure was built by the Romans over 2000 years ago.  The location of London Bridge has also moved and changed immensely.  At times there were over 200 homes and shops on the bridge and, in the middle ages, it would take over an hour to cross the bridge due to congestion. An excuse still used today by some Nexus staff.

A ‘new’ bridge was built in 1825 but didn’t last too long due to sinking and was therefore dismantled and replaced by the bridge you see today in 1973.

One of the most famous legends surrounding London Bridge relates to an American entrepreneur called Robert P. McCullock who bought the dismantled bridge for the princely sum of US$2.4 million.

However, he slowly realised as he watched the bridge painstakingly being reconstructed over the Bridgewater Channel Canal in Arizona that it wasn’t the more elegant Tower Bridge, which allegedly he thought he had bought.

Remembering that story, I live in eternal hope that an equally generous entrepreneur from Arizona passes our new offices at 150 Leadenhall Street, thinks we are Lloyd’s and reaches for his wallet.

Joking aside, whilst researching for this speech I have been struck by how the short life span of Nexus has many parallels to the life span of the great buildings of the City that surround us now:
Many years in construction, constantly changing, constantly challenged but, at the same time, demonstrating endurance and resilience.

An individual who has shown resilience and endurance beyond compare is of course Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who I am delighted to inform you is our after dinner speaker and will share with you his many adventures and achievements.

He is recognised as one of the world’s top ten guest speakers and is described by the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s greatest living explorer”.

Throughout his extraordinary life he has shown a remarkable pioneering spirit and will I’m sure tell us what drove him to the success and recognition he richly deserves.

As I begin to close off, I would like to touch on the future for Nexus.  At the outset I propose that if the next five years are as successful and as much fun as the last five, then we are in for another incredible journey.

My conviction remains to continue building Nexus and to firmly establish ourselves as the most successful and largest MGA in the London market.

With momentum, belief and teamwork I can see Nexus writing US$ 250 million gross written premium per year in five years.

My inspiration remains the market leading first class team we have assembled.  Put simply, in my mind, you are simply the best!

I came across a very short story whilst flicking through the Sunday papers over the weekend that to me illustrated the DNA of all our employees at Nexus.

The story goes like this:

Three bricklayers were working on a building site and each one was asked what he was doing.

“Laying bricks”, answered the first one.

“Earning £10 per hour”, replied the second.

The third one paused and then said, “I’m building a cathedral and one day I’ll bring my kids here and tell them that their Dad contributed to this magnificent building.”

He was clearly driven by a grandeur vision and with this in mind I would like to propose a toast:

Please raise your glasses.

Thank you all once again.

To the Nexus employees and our partners, the first five years, the next five years – to the Nexus Group.


Photos from the evening:

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Industry Awards

1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

2018 - For the second year running Nexus have been identified in the London Stock Exchange Group's 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report.

The report is a celebration of the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses across the UK. www.1000companies.com

Sunday Times Profit Track 100

The Nexus Group is now part of a prestigious set of the fastest growing private companies in the UK across all sectors.

Inc. 5000 Europe

2018: Nexus has been identified in the Inc. 5000 Europe list of fastest growing companies in Europe.

1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

2017: Nexus has been identified as one of London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. www.1000companies.com

The report is a celebration of the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses across the UK.

British Credit Awards

Nexus CIFS Ltd:
2018 - Finalists in the Credit Insurance Specialists of the Year
2017 - Highly commended, British Credit Awards
2016 - Finalist of the Institute of Credit Management, British Credit Awards
2015 - Winner of the Institute of Credit Management, British Credit Awards
2014 - Finalist of the Institute of Credit Management, British Credit Awards
2013 - Winner of the Institute of Credit Management, British Credit Awards

British Insurance Awards

Nexus Underwriting Management Limited:
2014 - Finalist for Underwriting Agency, British Insurance Awards
2013 - Finalist for Underwriting Agency, British Insurance Awards

Leading Advisor Award

2014 - Leading Advisor - Acquisition International

Commercial Insurance Awards

2014 - NUML shortlisted for Placement of the Year

Insurance Times Awards

2014 - Finalist for MGA of the Year, Insurance Times Awards
2013 - Finalist for MGA of the Year, Insurance Times Awards

London Market Awards

2013 - NUML shortlisted for London Market Awards

Insurance Insider Honours

2013 - Finalist for Insurance Insider Broker M&A Deal of Year for Nexus Group acquisition of Credit Indemnity & Financial Services (CIFS)