Although McCurrach is more than 100 years old, you would be forgiven for not having heard of it. The company specialises in field sales and marketing and began by distributing groceries for brands such as Campbell’s Soup. Today it operates on a much larger scale, providing services for major supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco.
In 2007, the company moved into the financial services sector. Under chief executive Angus Maciver it is busy expanding its presence in this market by supplying field sales forces for financial services providers.
Maciver joined the company in 2011 and heads all four business divisions, covering everything from groceries to technology, but he is no stranger to financial services.
He graduated in Modern History and Politics at the University of Glasgow and says his talent for debating while at university swayed his choice of a career in marketing.
Maciver’s first marketing job was as brand manager with Proctor & Gamble UK, working with well-known names such as Vidal Sassoon. He moved to Frito-Lay International in 1993, embarking upon various sales and marketing roles with Walkers Snack Foods and Pepsi-Cola.
Maciver says he was put under a lot of pressure while at Frito-Lay to take on international roles with Pepsi, which required constant travel. The frequent long-haul flying caused him to develop deep-vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism, crystallising the need for Maciver to find a new role based in the UK, which meant moving away from working with consumer goods.
“At the time I had three sectors in mind,” says Maciver. “Retail, financial services and telecommunications. Financial services came up first.”
In 2003 Maciver landed his first role in the finance industry as marketing director at Prudential. It might sound like a big change but Maciver insists the two industries are not that dissimilar.
“When you think about insurance businesses and how you communicate to the end customer, it’s similar to what I had been doing in consumer goods. What was different was the complexity with which you have to communicate about the product. It is much easier with a consumer goods product than an insurance product.”
Maciver left Prudential for a role as group marketing and communications director at supermarket giant Morrisons, but in 2011 he joined McCurrach as CEO – a role which offered the opportunity to combine his diverse career experiences.
“It seemed like a really good opportunity to take the leap into becoming a chief executive and figure out whether I can really grow a business that I am responsible for, rather than just be part of it, and lever the experience that I had within consumer goods, grocery and financial services. It was a very neat confluence of all those things that came at once.”
McCurrach’s background in the grocery business might make a move into financial services seem equally unusual.
Maciver says: “As a strategy the business was thinking: ‘How do we diversify to give ourselves more of a depth of business,
and de-risk the business but also what other sectors could we use a sales process and sales skills in, which seems some-
“In financial services you have a high-cost salesforce and cost pressures. So we could say to a big insurance company: ‘If you want to call on more IFAs, we could probably do that for the same amount of money and just as effectively’. That’s the proposal which is very similar in many respects to the grocery market.”
McCurrach has 850 salespeople working with four providers, representing their products to 150,000 clients each year either through business development managers visiting IFAs or through telesales. Many IFAs may not realise that the representatives are employed by McCurrach as they introduce themselves as a representative from a specific provider. So why should IFAs trust they are receiving good service and the right products for their business?
Maciver says McCurrach employs people who have the right attitude and aptitude for sales and who are good at building relationships with customers. McCurrach provides them with in-depth product and sales training.
“The other thing that is interesting about our model is that we don’t reward people significantly with bonuses. We reward our people by the process they follow in the everyday things they do, so they are more balanced in the way they sell those products.”
Maciver says McCurrach has only received two complaints from 150,000 IFAs over five years, which suggests it is providing a good service model.
He says the company is growing steadily with another two providers potentially due to come on board and he believes the RDR will boost business further.
“I think we are at the stage now where we can say to bigger companies that they are running a lot of risk with RDR. They don’t know how many brokers or business development people they need to make up sales forces around cost constraints. We can help with that because we will handle the risks of the highs and lows of the sales force, which will allow larger companies to concentrate on what the sales proposition is and how they deal with networks in large collections of IFAs.”
Maciver believes there is more reason than ever for people to seek financial advice, largely because of the steady demise of final-salary pension schemes.
“Will it mean people will need more help in planning their retirement, how they are going to fund themselves in retirement and plan their investments to be able to get an income in retirement? That area is going to see an increase in the market. I think it is an encouraging time for advice, albeit a challenging time.”
If the outlook is challenging for some advisers, it is nonetheless offering an opportunity for McCurrach. Maciver says the business could double its revenues every five years if it gets it right.
“For McCurrach there will still be financial advisers to call on but we don’t know how many,” he says.
“I think there will be a growth in more direct, simplified advice models, which will be likely to take up any slack in the financial adviser market for any people that are not able or willing to pay for fees. You could use an outsourced provider
“We don’t offer that service yet but it is something we may well do in conjunction with providers.”
Education: Lochaber High School, Edinburgh; University of Glasgow
Career: 2011-present: chief executive, McCurrach; 2007-2011: group marketing and communications director, WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc; 2003-2007: marketing director, Prudential Plc; 1993-2003: marketing brand director, Walkers Snack Foods, vice-president, Pepsi-Cola International; 1986-1993: brand director, Proctor & Gamble
Likes: Adhere to the red wine and dark chocolate diet
Car: Black Audi S4 and Solar Orange Audi TTS
Film: Roxanne or The Man with Two Brains
Book: The Business by Ian Banks
Album: Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf
Career ambitions: To grow McCurrach as a business
Life ambitions: To have a positive impact on the people I meet and work with