The Square Mile and Me: Steve McGill on Boots, negativity and the Four Seasons
We dig into the memory bank of the City’s great and good: this week, Steve McGill details his life running the fastest-growing speciality broking firm in the world, McGill and Partners.
- What was your first job? Boxing up goods in a Boots warehouse which is somewhat different from my role today running a global (re)insurance broking firm…
- What was your first job in the City? My first job in insurance was at Bland Payne supporting the brokers and distributing the post, and in those days, telexes.
- When did you know the City was the place for you? I never thought I would work in insurance; I fell into it by mistake like many people do. However, I am fortunate that it has offered me a brilliant and varied career which is centred around people, solving problems and innovating and this has kept me interested for over 40 years.
- What’s one thing you love about the City… I love the vibrancy and buzz of the City. It’s an incredibly exciting place to work and from an insurance standpoint, London continues to operate as the epicentre for specialty insurance and reinsurance in the world.
- And one thing you’d change? The general negativity towards winners. The City and the UK as a whole has so much to offer and we should identify, support and reward those firms that are making a difference.
- What’s the most memorable day you’ve worked? There are many, but probably 24 May 2019 when we raised $250m from Warburg Pincus to launch McGill and Partners. Little did I know that our first full year of trading as the biggest London startup in decades would be to navigate through a global pandemic… Something we did very successfully.
- And what’s been your most memorable lunch? One of my most memorable lunches was many years ago on a Friday when I took the afternoon off and went to the Fat Duck in Bray, Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant with a good friend and senior insurance exec and our wives. It was an incredible meal and an afternoon enjoyed with good wines and good company and certainly a lunch to remember.
- Who is the City figure you most admire? I have admired many City and business figures and learnt a huge amount from them all. Currently, I admire what John Neal and Bruce Carnegie Brown are doing as part of Blueprint II to transform Lloyds. Additionally, I have much admiration for Amanda Blanc and her leadership at Aviva which is inspirational.
- We’re going for lunch and you’re picking – where are we going? Generally, if I am not travelling to meet clients and colleagues, I work through lunch and will have a sandwich and a Diet Coke which will keep me going until dinner.
- And if we’re going for after work drinks? If we have a client dinner, we will often head to the wonderful Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square. Otherwise, you can often find me at Le Pont de la Tour restaurant in Tower Bridge where the food and service is excellent.
- Are you optimistic for the rest of 2023? Yes, I’m incredibly optimistic for the City, for the London and Lloyds insurance market, and for McGill and Partners. We all have an exciting future ahead of us.
- Give us one opinion that sails against the prevailing wisdom…That to build a global insurance broking business from scratch and at scale is virtually impossible. Whilst other firms in the industry have pursued M&A aggressively, McGill and Partners, is proof that you can build a business organically and succeed whilst developing a unique culture founded on inclusion and teamwork. We are the fastest-growing speciality broking firm in the world. When you consider that our first full year of trading was 2020, the year of the global pandemic, and that in our second full year (which was still in the midst of the pandemic) we achieved over $100m of revenue, that is just remarkable. It shows that with a great team, extensive preparation, hard work and a determination to succeed, anything is possible.
- Where’s home during the week? During the week, I stay at my apartment near Tower Bridge looking over the river, which is a lovely view to wake up to.
- And where will we find you on the weekend? At the weekend, you can find me at home in Hertfordshire surrounded by beautiful countryside. Quite a contrast to Tower Bridge.
- You’ve got a well-deserved two weeks off – where are you going, and with who? Probably Portofino in Italy in the summer with my wife Liz and our family.
Quick-fire round What’s your favourite…?
- Film – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Band – Coldplay
- View of London – View from my apartment over Tower Bridge
- Book – Long walk to Freedom – The autobiography of Nelson Mandela
- Coffee order – Skinny cappuccino from Starbucks