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Andy Hunt

The new managing director of Marl-borough Stirling is passionate about sailing and was at the helm of the firm’s takeover by Vertex. Now he is aiming for a smooth passage in customer relations.

The recent takeover of Marlborough Stirling by tech- nology outsourcing firm Vertexhas kept Andy Hunt away from his beloved boat racing and extreme watersports but now the deal is done, he hopes it will be plain sailing for the company and he can spend more time getting cold and wet.

The new managing director of Marlborough Stirling, which becomes the financial services division of Vertex, was sales and marketing director at Vertex and has been heavily involved in the takeover all the way through from bid to acquisition.

Hunt says Vertex had been looking to establish a firm footing in the financial services market for some time but realised that organic growth into the sector would be impossible.

It was good timing for Vertex, which saw the firm as a platform for moving into the market and absorbing the depth of knowledge already present at the company. Hunt is quick to refute suggestions that some of this knowledge has been drained away by departures in the wake of the deal.

“We have removed the plc structure but have retained the managing directors of the three business divisions which is the most important thing. With regard to The Exchange, its individual board has been retained.”

Hunt hopes the industry will see Vertex’s move into the arena as “a breath of fresh air” and says he has had many messages of congratulations from distributors and product providers happy that The Exchange’s future is in “safe hands”. He claims there are the advantages in an outsider coming into the industry with no baggage.

He says the financial clout of Vertex, which is owned by United Utilities, means there will be investment into The Exchange although it is too early to say what form it will take. One area where he sees huge potential for growth is through the equity-release service as more advisers see the opportunities in this market and more providers offer products.

Hunt’s new role is convenient for his family life as he lives with his wife and four children in Chalford, Gloucestershire, close to Marlborough Stirling’s offices. He will be able to spend more time with the pigs and chickens he keeps and he says he grows much of the family’s own food.

Hunt started his career at ICI Paints, where one of his responsibilities was looking after the famous Dulux dog branding. He also looked after various aspects of customer management at the company and says it was here where he first saw the potential for customer relationship management technology at a time when the term was yet to be widely used.

Seeing the potential of this emerging market, Hunt became general manager of software company SPA Microsystems before setting up consultancy Marketing Solutions in 1996.

H unt sees himself as one of the pioneers of CRM, remembering when he was invited to California with Oracle to witness the first time that a record was synchronised on to a central database with a dial-up connection accompanied by the cheers of hysterical Americans.,

After setting up Marketing Solutions, Hunt founded Pointer Consulting in 1998, which he says was a case of being in the right place at the right time to identify a change in the market, and he concentrated on offering business integration across many channels. Pointer Consulting was sold to Extraprise, an international CRM consultancy, in 2000 and Hunt became European commercial vice-president. He then joined contact centre operator 7c in 2002 which was acquired by Vertex in 2003.

Hunt hopes in his new role he will be able to inject passion into the industry and believes the company will be a leading example of the way that providers should engage with clients, shaping the customer service strategies of providers which have come in for recent criticism.

Hunt’s passion for his job is carried over into his major interest outside work – extreme sports. “I am up for anything that involves an extreme challenge and am heavily involved in off-shore sailing, running and skiing.”

His list of heroes is littered with explorers and adventurers past and present and he has deep admiration for people who push themselves to the limit. His biggest achievement is being part of the winning crew of the Round Britain and Ireland Challenge, an annual event where teams battle it out in a 12-day non-stop race around Britain. Hunt was a bowman “getting cold and wet non-stop for 12 days, two hours on, two hours off”.

His plans to sail in the Fastnet challenge, five to seven days of non-stop sailing around the South and Ireland, had to be postponed this year because of the Marlborough Stirling deal but he does not plan to be away from the sea for long.

Hunt also plans to row the Atlantic in his own boat in 2007 and is trying to round up volunteers. He suggests the challenge would be a great team-building exercise for his new colleagues although no one has yet agreed to join him on the voyage.

Born: 1964, Watford, Hertfordshire
Education: Watford Boys Grammar School
Career: 1987: ICI Paints1994: general manager, SPA Microsystems; 1996: founder, Marketing Solutions; 1998: founder, Pointer Consulting; 2000: Extraprise, European commercial vice-president; 2002: commercial director, 7C (acquired by Vertex); 2003: sales & marketing director, Vertex; 2005: Vertex financial services division managing director
Likes: People who always try to do their best in whatever they pursue and push themselves beyond their limits.

Dislikes: People who do not finish what they start.

Life ambition: To sail across the Atlantic in 2007 and at that point identify the next challenge, be it on water or land.

Car: Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Defender
Hero: Ernest Shackleton, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Pen Hadow and Ellen MacArthurFavourite book: Solo, Pen Hadow
Favourite album: Supernatural, Santana


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