MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN BUSINESS AND BEYOND
Huntswood is an organisation born of the desire to make a positive difference. This has been a key tenet of the company since its formation in 1996 and, as such, runs through everything we do.
Whether we’re working to improve a client’s reputation with its customers, people and regulators, developing the skills of our passionate people who make Huntswood unique, or supporting local and national charitable causes, our goal remains the same.
ORIGINS AND EARLY YEARS
Huntswood – the brainchild of entrepreneurs David Brownlow and Philip Eaton – began life as a recruitment company in October of 1996.
Following family bereavements, and against a backdrop of working long hours in London, the two moved from the city in order to form their own business in Windsor; intending to place management consultants into the big four audit firms.
After settling on a name with heritage and one that evoked an image of the high-quality service it would provide, Huntswood opened its doors for business.
Between 1996 and 2000, the business grew steadily, gaining a reputation as a pure financial services recruitment firm, assisting organisations requiring experts on a temporary or permanent basis.
Following the sourcing of 200 people for a remediation project in 2001 and subsequent relocation to Windsor, the company as we know it today was born.
Between 2002 and 2003, Huntswood's colleague, contracting and permanent associate numbers doubled, such was the relevance of the service in the marketplace. Huntswood became an indispensable partner to clients needing quality associates and was successfully delivering on firms’ short-term needs – and, indeed, exceeding their expectations.
However, there was an underlying desire within the organisation to balance ‘defensive’ work with more proactive business improvement work for clients. In light of this, the company’s management consultancy division was born. Management consultants arrived quickly, driven by high demand.
In 2002, Craig Coffield joined the company as Head of Transformation to lead its ongoing strategic development, later becoming CEO in 2011.
The ‘early years’ of Huntswood were concluded with the sale of a minority stake to private equity firm 3i in 2003. At this stage, Philip Eaton decided to step away from the daily running of the business.
In 2003, a call was made to Huntswood requesting the provision of office space, 350 vetted and trained people and the requisite systems and controls for a sensitive remediation project. This was fairly normal by the company’s standards, but in this instance, a decision was required by 1pm that same day.
The challenge was accepted and, in a defining moment in the history of Huntswood, it delivered comprehensively on its promise, becoming the only organisation ever to orchestrate every element of such a complex remediation project, incorporating location, people, managers, systems and governance.
The continuing expansion of all of the business’s work streams meant that a move to larger premises at Abbey Gardens in Reading came in February 2004. This was shortly followed by the opening of new offices in key regional centres in 2005.
Despite Huntswood’s history of sourcing locations in which to perform work for its clients, more office space afforded the business even greater flexibility in the delivery of projects to client specifications.
In 2005, founder David Brownlow received what would be the first of many personal accolades, being awarded Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year at the Ernst and Young Awards.
In the same year, Huntswood achieved 32nd place on the Times Fast Track 100 list for fastest growing sales, adding to the 2003 accolade of Fastest Growing Business at the Thames Valley Business Magazine Awards.
2006 also saw Huntswood named Best Outsourcing Services Provider at the Compliance Register Awards.
As the decade progressed, Huntswood went from strength-to-strength. As well as the consistent expansion of its business improvement offering due to high demand, the company’s leaders focused on further developing its regulatory consulting capabilities.
Huntswood’s regulatory consulting activity was predicated on the firm belief that compliance can be used as a ‘competitive weapon’, and a benefit rather than a hindrance to a regulated firm. Uncompromising in this belief, Huntswood hosted a two-day seminar with 70 clients on exactly this subject in 2006.
A new balance had been struck. Huntswood now had a unique blend of business improvement and regulatory expertise which ensured that high standards of compliance would lead to tangible operational benefits for clients.
Huntswood would go on to produce the first of many research papers, this time on the changing face of regulation, in 2011, which was verified by YouGov and welcomed by the regulator and clients.
RAPID GROWTH AND RECOGNITION
In 2008, Huntswood had 1,000 people placed on projects for the first time. This number continued to grow beyond the end of the decade and up to the present day. In 2009, a process of reacquiring the company’s shares resulted in it coming back under the ownership of the founders.
As of 2010, clients included the top six retail banks, eight of the top 10 life and pensions companies, six of the top 10 general insurers and 13% of the FTSE 100.
In 2011, Huntswood completely bought out the private equity investment held by 3i and became fully owner-managed; a further testament to the rapidity of the company’s growth.
The company was awarded ISO27001:2005 for its information security management systems in early 2012, rising to the challenges in the ever-developing world of cyber security; imperative for Huntswood’s continuing relationships with clients holding sensitive customer information.
During the same year, the company was awarded two stars in the Sunday Times Best Companies Awards, and consequently appeared on the list of the top 150 companies in the UK to work for. The next year, it would appear in the Sunday Times Top 100 Small Companies to Work for list, and David Brownlow would receive the Best Chief Executive award at the industry awards ceremony.
In April 2013, additional accolades were awarded to Huntswood, with appearances on The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 (for fastest growing sales) and the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list. In the same month, Huntswood was appointed to Lot 5 of the FCA’s Skilled Person Panel.
As of July 2013, Huntswood had over 4,000 people deployed on a wide range of client projects. Another place on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, a Sunday Times Best Companies Award and a High Growth Business of the Year Award from the UK Private Business Awards followed in 2014.
A NEW BRAND VISION AND A BRAND NEW VISION
In February 2015, Huntswood introduced a new brand in order to articulate its position as a leading provider of consultancy and specialist resourcing services, but also a company that tirelessly supports – and seeks to enhance the talent of – its people.
Huntswood also became ISO27001:2013 certified in 2015; This further demonstrates the effectiveness of Huntswood’s information risk management policies and procedures, and shows that we effectively manage risk to company assets. This includes the necessary information we hold on clients and their customers in order to execute client projects.
Moving into the present, Huntswood continues its commitment to its clients, maintains its supportive, ‘can-do’, action-oriented approach and fosters a culture that nurtures and enriches talented people, empowering them to achieve more. The company now has over 4,500 specialists placed on projects, overseen by a team of expert people managers and backed by a proven approach to the provision of client services.
Our award winning hasn't abated in recent years either, and in 2015, Huntswood attracted no fewer than five accolades, including; The Sunday Times Top Track 250, Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For and Sunday Times' Profit Track and Fast Track 100. Huntswood began 2016 by retaining its Best Companies to work for status, while also winning an award as the Most Admired Thames Valley Business. Late 2016 saw Huntswood once again appear on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, at number 48, just in time for the company's 20th birthday, and on the Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250, also at number 48.
TRANSFORMING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR CLIENTS
Following the rebrand of 2015, Huntswood entered its most intense period of transformation and growth to date, re-focussing its commitment to its clients, maintaining its supportive, ‘can-do’, action-oriented approach and fostering a culture that nurtures and enriches talented people, empowering them to achieve more.
Huntswood became 20 years old in 2016 and marked the occasion by launching its largest consumer research report to date, the ‘Complaints Outlook’. This industry report was based on months of in-depth research, including interviews with 45 of the largest financial services firms, focussing on how firms can set themselves up for operational excellence in relation to complaints management.
Continuing the theme of giving, in 2016, Huntswood employees were recognised for raising a total of £39,125 for Daisy’s Dream, a charity supporting children and families who have been affected by illness and bereavement.
In 2017, Huntswood achieved another landmark, this time being appointed to not one, but two of the FCA’s Skilled Person Panel (Lots B and D) in further recognition of the advisory excellence which underpins our engagements. In that same year, Huntswood was proud to sponsor the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Pride of Reading Awards, recognising the brilliant business minds that are improving the town that Huntswood calls home.
In 2018, Huntswood expanded once again, this time opening a new Centre of Excellence in the heart of Liverpool. This investment into the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ saw Huntswood secure permanent space over two floors in the Watson Building in central Liverpool. The new offices were opened by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Christine Banks, and have the potential to create up to 600 jobs, enabling Huntswood to further adapt to support our clients’ changing needs across the country.
During the latest stage of our evolution, in early 2019, Huntswood was pleased to announce that Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia had been appointed as advisor to the company’s founder, David Brownlow, further bolstering Huntswood ability to support our clients most pressing and urgent issues.
Dame Gadhia was honoured in Her Majesty’s 2019 New Year’s Honours list for her extraordinary contributions to the UK financial services sector and for her work supporting women within the finance industry. Dame Gadhia was the former CEO of Virgin Money and was appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as an external member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee in early 2019.
Throughout the eight months that I’ve worked with Huntswood I’ve seen first-hand how they put their customers at the heart of their business. They are a company that continues to impress, deliver and delight in equal measure.Head of Training & Development, Insurance, Retail bank
The Huntswood team have delivered precisely to brief and in a timely manner too. I have been most pleased with the thoroughness of preparation going into the project. This, combined with the obvious regulatory and strategic experience you all have has made the project a great success.Managing director, major insurance firm
The project has run incredibly smoothly, which reflects great planning and great commitment to pro-actively resolve any issues … Good collaborative planning was at the heart of the operation. It primarily ensured our customers received an outstanding service but also convey confidence to regulator and all the internal stakeholders.Operations Director, leading UK merchandise retailer
Our challenge … has been extremely demanding and Huntswood has had to deal with a rapid upsizing of the ongoing engagements, taking the number of deployed staff from an initial 16 to 174 in a very short space of time. The hassle-free experience has been testament to Huntswood’s organisational and management skills.Senior Manager, Customer Service Recovery, leading UK retail bank
Huntswood’s people are of the highest calibre. Not only do they understand the issue from a regulatory perspective, but they know how to deliver effective training in an impactful way.Client Project Lead, Retail bank
At a time of increasing financial and emotional pressure, firms that put complaints excellence at the centre of their operations, will win customer trust and earn long‐term loyalty
Richard Brown – Huntswood’s Technical Adviser in Complaints – answers some of the questions asked at the Complaints Outlook 2021 launch event
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