Q&A Profile: Colm Kelleher Managing Director, LHK Group.

Guaranteed Irish member LHK Group is the insurance and financial planning partner of owner-managers, entrepreneurs, sole traders, partnerships, and family businesses across multiple industry sectors.

Colm Kelleher Managing Director, LHK Group talks Brexit, why they decided to become members of Guaranteed Irish & much more.

Can you give us a brief history of LHK Group?

As one of the few remaining independently owned brokers, we are proud of our heritage; a third generation, family-owned business, which can trace its roots back to 1938. With offices in Dublin and Drogheda, we are one of the oldest brokers on the island of Ireland and a leading broker in the commercial and financial planning areas.

Upon graduating from university with a degree in Insurance Studies and a master’s qualification in Risk Management, I went to work with Aon London in their Global Risks division, advising multinational clients on their insurance placements. During this time, I also became a Chartered Insurance broker and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute. Upon returning to Ireland in 2008, I joined the family business, MJ Kelleher & Sons in Drogheda. Since this time, the business has grown on its own capacity and via acquisition, and we recently rebranded as LHK Group to reflect the combined General Insurance and Financial Planning advisory services offered.

What are the challenges that you face in your business and how do you work to overcome them particularly in the current climate?

Whilst traditionally many Irish businesses have been able to rely on London based insurers this route has become a lot more restricted since the full impact of Brexit, as has been well publicised.

In order to combat this reality, we have established some direct relationships with significant European based insurers and have been able to encourage them to participate on several of our clients placements. This is a route we expect to accelerate as many of these insurers become more comfortable with Irish exposures and the benefits of the recent judicial reforms can be demonstrated to potential new entrants.

As businesses evolve through their life cycle, the risks which they are exposed to and their insurance needs change. It is therefore key that we stay close to our clients throughout their journey to understand their vision and strategic plan. We work with our clients to proactively plan and provide an insurance solution for a variety of risks which may prevent the fulfilment of their objectives. A good example is the emergence of cyber and data protection exposures. We have worked closely with several clients to ensure they are protected in this area, in partnership with the world’s leading cyber insurance insurer, based in London.

What drives you as a business?

Very simply; our clients and our people.

SME and Corporate Ireland want to deal with an Irish owned, Irish managed broker – a business very similar to the clients we service. We refuse to play into the narrative that “biggest is best” and the inherent conflicts which come with delivering for businesses of this scale. Our mission is to deliver objective and cost-effective general insurance and financial planning solutions which mitigate risk and provide greater peace of mind for our existing and prospective clients.

Our people work on behalf of our clients, not our insurance partners. We are committed to providing an inclusive, collegial environment to support our people in the development of a rewarding career in the insurance industry.  Our success over the years is attributed to the unparalleled standard of service consistently offered to all our clients by our highly motivated teams.

Do you have a special message (or offer) for Guaranteed Irish business members?

We invite you to talk to us. The membership profile within Guaranteed Irish is very much synonymous with LHK Group’s existing client portfolio, many of whom have also been awarded the Guaranteed Irish symbol. We are committed to supporting the Guaranteed Irish community as a broker focused on the SME and mid-large domestic market.

Our team would welcome the opportunity to carry out a free risk and insurance review with any of the Guaranteed Irish community. We will provide some insights as to the value and efficacy of your insurance placement and ensure it aligns with your personal and corporate objectives.

What made you decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?

Some of our existing clients who are members of the community encouraged us to apply as they recognised our 83 years of commitment to the local economy. We soon realised that it was a great fit for our brand as LHK Group now remains one of the few remaining independently owned brokers in the Irish market. Our Guaranteed Irish membership symbolises our commitment to employing people in Ireland to service our much-valued clients from Irish offices. We are a family-owned brokerage built on generations of local experience and and act as the insurance and financial planning partner of choice for owner-managers, entrepreneurs, sole traders, partnerships, and family businesses across multiple industry sectors, both domestically and internationally.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for LHK Group over the next five years?

An ageing demographic amongst owner and partnership managed businesses, combined with increased regulatory scrutiny and a lack of succession planning, has led many independently owned brokers to exit, selling to larger rivals, who have entered the Irish market following consolidation in the USA and UK.

We anticipate that this market disruption will create a great opportunity for LHK Group as our prospective clients look to seek an alternative risk, insurance and financial planning advisory partner. Mergers and acquisitions inevitably result in changes in key personnel and destabilise the personal relationship and embedded knowledge that clients once had with their broker. This marked change in the landscape provides opportunity for mid-tier brokers such as LHK Group. Clients will seek out a forward-thinking, trusted advisor who fully embraces transparency and objectivity as they deliver the services that clients want and need. In fact, we have witnessed the emergence of a new generation of independent brokers in the UK and USA following the consolidation which has taken place there, they are 3 – 5 years ahead of us in the cycle.



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