After a very pleasant summer off, mostly ignoring my portfolio, it was a pleasure to attend another ShareSoc growth seminar in this autumnal month. This time the event relocated to Edison Investment Research in Holborn and yet, fortunately, remained within walking distance of my office! This certainly makes the difference as it's nigh on impossible for me to attend company meetings within the working day, without taking leave, so well done ShareSoc.

Personal Group

Before Mark Scanlon, CEO, stood up to present I knew nothing about Personal Group but it turns out their proposition is simple. They provide a way for companies to outsource the provision of employee benefits to an expert supplier and so reap a couple of major advantages: employees are happier as they get to save money without much effort and HR are happy because they don't have to administer childcare vouchers, cycle to work schemes, gym memberships and so on. In time Personal Group are looking to expand into areas such as salary sacrifice and workplace loans, and other industry verticals, so there's plenty of opportunity for growth.

A key driver behind this growth is, hopefully, the company's recent partnership with Sage Groupand the fact that Sage are bundling Personal Group's SaaS product (Hapi) under their own name as Sage Employee Benefits. Up to now the group has mainly targeted large corporate and public sector clients, as it's expensive to acquire customers, but piggybacking on Sage Group'sdominant penetration within the SME space and their strong brand name should provide plenty of leverage. Obviously a cut of revenue is sacrificed here but if all goes well there should be plenty of up-selling opportunities down the road.

Talking of up-selling the business started out with an insurance product sold directly, face to face, to employees and this remains the largest source of revenue by far. Here Personal Grouptake on the risk, hold solvency capital and pay all claims. While this sounds potentially challenging in reality clients hold their policies for 5 years on average and the combined ratio is 60-65%; so it's a real cash-cow which is still growing. On the other hand employees have only one chance to sign up forever and that makes me a little uncomfortable - although it also explains why ~50% of people actually take a policy when it's…

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