Essex based Avanti grows out of back room
Avanti Group Solutions, is owned by Chief Executive Glen Smith (pictured). Glen founded the company from a back room in his home in 1996 and has grown the business to become one of the UK’s largest brands in specialist travel and private medical insurance.
With an illustrious background (which includes a sojourn as a ski shop owner and a BUPA salesman) Glen has built a business which is now valued at approximately £23 million.
The formula is simple yet highly effective. Avanti Group Solutions (the holding company) is the ‘umbrella brand’ that encompasses Avanti Healthcare and Avanti Travelcare. The former is a private medical insurance intermediary and the latter specialises in travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions – with no upper age limit. In a competitive market Avanti is set to become a household name. According to the Association of British Insurers, the UK insurance industry is the largest in Europe, and third largest in the world. The market employs around 320,000 people – more people than are employed in the electricity, gas and water sectors combined. It plays an essential part in the UK’s economic strength, managing investments of £1.8 trillion (equivalent to 25% of the UK’s total net worth) and paying nearly £12bn in taxes to the Government.
So, what makes Glen’s strategy work today? It was always the intention of the Harley Davidson-riding entrepreneur to leverage the synergy of his successful health insurance business (formerly known as Healthcare Partners Limited) and the award-winning travel insurance business, which were rebranded as one under the Avanti name on 1st January 2015. Today, both thriving businesses work side by side as specialist departments of Avanti Group Solutions at the company headquarters in Braintree, Essex.
With a matrix management structure, Glen sits at the helm aided by Non-Executive Chairman Des Benjamin, who joined the Avanti Group in July 2014 and is the former Chief Executive of Simplyhealth. Glen recently augmented his management team with the addition of new Managing Director Mark Day (pictured), Vice President of the Institute of Customer Service. Mark’s previous roles include Director for Customer Service at Simplyhealth as well as senior HR roles with the Automobile Association and HSA.
The company also has also now appointed an HR Director, Maggie McConnell. Maggie is a CIPD Associate and has over ten years’ experience as an HR Manager working in a generalist HR role. Her background also includes ten years at EdisonLearning, a global private school improvement provider, and more recently a position at Promo International, a global procurement and promotional solutions specialist. She has also worked for Essex County Council.
With one of the largest contact centres in the East of England, Mark Reed heads up the new Contact Centre and manages the award-winning team of Sales and Service advisors.
A TV advertisement campaign and participation in consumer exhibitions such as the 50+ show have increased brand awareness, as well as digital media and a long running print campaign with major daily titles such as the Mail. The business thrives because Glen understands and empathises with the mindset of the customer. He has first hand experience himself with medical conditions that are quite common amongst his client base.
In terms of its workforce, Avanti’s mission statement includes the belief that with age comes valuable experience. Mature applicants are positively encouraged on recruitment days and Glen is not averse to picking up the phone himself to answer a client enquiry.
Management consultants PWC claim that in order to survive and thrive insurance companies need to operate economically and efficiently, comply with new and existing regulations and standards, meet competitive pressures, and take advantage of opportunities to grow. Glen and his top Execs are already planning their next strategic move. “It’s more or less a case of watch this space” hinted Avanti’s MD Mark Day recently.
Avanti Healthcare is the largest independent healthcare specialist in the East of England, with access to the entire market of insurers offering PMI, iPMI, Cash Plans, Income Protection, Dental Plans, Death-in-service and Critical illness Cover.
Since launch, Avanti Travelcare has issued half a million policies and Avanti Healthcare now insurers over 30,000 lives.
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