The Past, The Present & The Future

Anthony Boden, Managing Director at Digney Grant Insurance, is passionate about Newry as a great location to do business - bolstered of course by its resilient people and enviable location mid-way between Belfast and Dublin.

He speaks to The Irish News about his business’s unique selling point and services, future challenges posed by Brexit and of course the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but also how local businesses will find a way to adapt and endure.

The Past

Digney Grant Ltd was established in 2001 following the Merger of Digney Bros and Jack Grant and Sons, two well-established brokers in Northern Ireland. Jack Grant and Sons had been trading in Newry from 1967 with Digney Brothers trading from the early 1970s. A further merger took place in 2010, with Commercial Insurance brokerage Bodensure, owned by Anthony Boden. The business has always been customer centric, with the focus on hands-on customer service.

The Present

Since its establishment, the business has evolved. In 2018, Digney Grant Ltd was bought by ABL Group, the Northern Ireland hub broker for Global Risks Partners (GRP), with the current directors Paul Grant, Sean Grant and Anthony Boden retaining a minority shareholding and continuing to run the business on a day to day basis.

The GRP model is unique. Whilst it provides market leading insurance products and deals, managing the compliance and training areas of the business (which are so important within most businesses now); it also harnesses the entrepreneurial spirit of the directors within, allowing them to concentrate on their clients, and continue to grow the business.

It is a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario; the buying power of a national and the local ‘hands on’ service expected of the provincial broker.

Being part of that bigger group became so much more important in March when Covid-19 and the lockdown began. The business was able to decant all staff to work from home by March 20, and has continued to fully trade throughout a very difficult period. It has worked well and no doubt a new work environment is currently evolving- so whilst their offices have been closed to the general public, they continue to be very much ‘open’ for business.

The Future

The ABL/GRP model places a strong emphasis on the Risk Management and control. As such, all customers now have access to in-house Risk Management resource. For smaller clients, it can be through an online portal, and for those who need more bespoke assistance, they can access the services of the group Risk Manager, David Sinnamon. A number of the business’s clients have made good use of David’s services in the last few months, devising a safe ‘return to work’ policy for their own organisations.

As Brexit hurtles towards us, being registered with the Central Bank of Ireland, is a must for any broker who wishes to continue to handle business in the ROI. With the setting up of GRP Ireland, Digney Grant will be able to continue to trade come what may on the January 1 2021.

The insurance market is in a very difficult trading environment at present, with insurers withdrawing and others reducing their capacity. This in turn is having a significant effect on Property/Business Interruption and Professional Indemnity classes of insurance in particular.

Digney Grant continue to engage with their clients early to work through any potential issues they may face during this turbulent period.

Mr Boden adds: “As well as many new challenges and uncertainties, Brexit will offer opportunities. But businesses must be prepared.  Businesses in this area have endured much down through the years yet they have shown remarkable resilience, determination and innovation.  Come what may, they will find a way again, but it will take time, careful thought and planning". 

Acquisitions

Part of Digney Grant’s growth plan is to assist other brokers, who are looking for a succession plan with their business, and/or an exit strategy. Covid-19 and Brexit will have brought this to the forefront of many business owners. The Digney Grant door is very much open to conversations.

Digney Grant provides expert and personalised insurance solutions to a diverse range of businesses. Staff will discuss your quote with you, taking time to listen to your requirements and understand the value in what you are insuring. They will then approach their panel of leading insurers to deliver the best insurance product at the most competitive premium. For more information visit www.digneygrant.co.uk or phone 028 3026 7017.