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Roderic Rennison

Thinc’s new strategic relationships director credits his six months as a door-to-door insurance salesman with giving him confidence and an ability to engage with people.

Born: 1955 in Aldershot, Hampshire

Lives: Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Education: Secondary school in Northern IrelandCareer: 1974 Investment Annuity; 1976-85 Barclays Insurance; 1986 Banborough; 1987-98 partner, Robson Rhodes; 1998-2001 director of retail pensions Merrill Lynch (Mercury Life), director of retail sales Merrill Lynch Pensions, retail markets and products director Merrill Lynch Investment Managers distributors fund division; 2001-04 financial services director Bradford & Bingley Group; December 2004 group operations and strategic relationships director Thinc; 2003 vice-president Chartered Insurance Institute

Likes: Positive people

Dislikes: Procrastination

Career ambition: “To be part of a group that was seen to make a difference to financial services”

Life ambition: “To be able to look back and see if I made a positive difference”

Drives: Mercedes SLK 230 or 1959 MGA coupe on sunny days

Roderic Rennison started selling insurance door to door at 18 and says the experience left him in good stead for the rest of his professional career.

The financial services director at Bradford & Bingley Group has confirmed that he is joining multi-distribution platform Thinc as group operations and strategic relationships director. Between his door-knocking days and his most recent role at BBG – an expanse of 30 years – he has worked in several areas of financial services including pensions, employee benefits and chartered accountancy.

At BBG, he was responsible for relationships with financial services providers, the development of investment, life and pension products as well as helping to develop BBG’s strategy in relation to financial services and planning. But he says working out where he could fit into the new BBG structure was difficult.

“I had three-and-a-half very interesting years at BBG, also working with Toby Strauss and Ian Darby on Charcol. But after the restructuring, it was time for me to move on.”

Rennison will be responsible for a number of operational aspects at Thinc that are still to be decided, focusing initially on multi-tie negotiations with providers.

This DIY enthusiast (always supervised by his wife, he says) obviously finds pleasure in building and creating relationships.

He will also be overseeing talks over a possible merger with national IFA Destini to create Thinc Destini, as reported in Money Marketing in November. “Both sides, Destini and Thinc, want to make this happen but there has to be due process and due diligence. At around Christmas, we will be able to decide whether we can proceed.

“The point is, with Thinc Destini, if that is indeed the name we choose, if the merger were to take place, it would bring advantages to clients and those who work here. It will be a significant undertaking but we must take things at an appropriate pace.”

Meanwhile, Thinc is engaging in continuous dialogue with other organisations and looking at further integration of businesses. Most recently, it acquired Network 300 which went into administration in October. Several former Network 300 members were exasperated by what was described as lack of clarity on pipeline fees and the options open to them after the acquisition.

“I can only speak generally on this but when any business changes, it is a very stressful time and often there is an imm-ediate reaction and then a more considered reaction down the line. Most members are now fully aware of their decisions and we are in continuous and effective communication with them.”

Looking to the future of the industry, Rennison says: “I see the next 12 months as the most significant in the last 15 years in history of this industry. Those who survive are likely to succeed the next 10 years. Depolarisation is just around the corner.”

Thinc has put a lot of thought into depolarisation. Rennison says it has assembled a group of people to “articulate rather than react to depolarisation”. He believes the landscape of the industry will see a lot of change but this will be gradual. He predicts consolidation among distributors and providers. For intermediaries specifically, he suggests there will be a period of adjustment as they contemplate the benefits of multi-ties.

“People will start to give more credit to the menu than they have done before. Multi-ties will offer more than people originally thought. They will bring cost economics and efficiency which will eventually be realised.”

Rennison is extremely excited about the move to Thinc, saying: “I really like what I see here.” Perhaps he applied his attitude to cars when looking for a new career. “I don’t profess to know how cars work but I know a good thing when I see it,” he says.

One thing he finds attractive in Thinc are the options open for members. He says it offers several choices to IFAs who are fee-based, multi-tied or wish to be part of its mortgage salesforce. “It is hub and spoke. Thinc is the hub and all the services are the spokes. The point is we offer affective relationship management. Remember, it is all about the client. The client is key.”

One thing of which he is sure is that depolarisation will not marginalise progress. He says it will undoubtedly provide new avenues for advice.

Rennison says he gained confidence from having to knock on doors to sell insurance. “It made me unafraid of contacting people, talking to them face to face. It was a very good experience.” The job lasted six months and he then left voluntarily. “Most people didn’t last there for more than four days.”

Although he has not had a university education, Rennison says he probably has more professional qualifications than most. He has been a Sofa board member and is vice-president of the Chartered Insurance Institute. In his spare time, which his wife insists is not in abundance, he is a hacker on the golf course.

Always looking ahead, Rennison says he never comes back from a holiday without deciding where the next one will be. He is looking forward to working with Thinc chief operating officer Simon Chamberlain, who he says “is very focused and knows what he wants to achieve, which is a compliment to the shareholders”.

Rennison adds: “I look forward to being increasingly involved in the future integration of businesses and being involved in the group’s ambitious plans.”

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