Zurich and the Openwork Partnership LLP have completed the divestment of Zurich’s 25 per cent shareholding in Openwork, marking the successful culmination of the strategy set out by Zurich when it created Openwork in 2005.
The divestment means that Openwork, which has grown to become the UK’s largest financial advice network, is now majority-owned by the Openwork Partnership LLP (representing member firms). Openwork’s employees retain a minority shareholding via an employee benefit trust.
Openwork will continue to distribute Zurich’s product lines in the UK, offering them to its advisers through the network’s best-of-breed panels.
Mark Duckworth, chief executive officer at Openwork, commented: “In February 2016 we announced that Partners would become Openwork’s majority shareholder within four years, and we have been working hard to prepare the business for everything that separation entails. The fact we have reached this milestone two years early should give everyone connected to Openwork huge confidence and optimism.
“We have a secure, stable, proftable business that delivers a hugely important service to hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. To be doing this independently; to have our destiny in our own hands, is exciting.”
Andy Wilmot, Partner, and chair of Openwork’s Shareholder Council (the body of Partners which represents the LLP), said: “On behalf of all Partners, I am delighted we have realised our ambition and created something we believe is unique in financial services. Holding equity in a growing business that has the scale and power of Openwork has been much-anticipated and we look forward to welcoming more Partners to enjoy the benefits as Openwork continues to expand.”
David White, Head of UK Retail at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd., added: “I am delighted for Mark and his team, and for the LLP, that we have achieved our long-planned separation and Openwork now stands on its own. Whilst Zurich will no longer be a shareholder, our relationship will remain strong and we look forward to continuing to provide our market-leading products and services to Openwork advisers and their clients.”
Openwork was established by Zurich in 2005, formed from Zurich’s financial adviser network and supported by a few hundred staff members operating from its Swindon Head Office. The business has grown substantially and now has over 3,600 advisers across its wealth, mortgage, protection and insurance channels, making it the UK’s largest financial advice network.