Hiscox celebrated reaching the halfway stage of its new building in York, its largest office outside London, with a ‘topping out’ ceremony. The office will eventually see 500 professional jobs created in the city.
Steve Langan, managing director of Hiscox, told The Yorkshire Post that regulation was increasing in the insurance sector all the time and that in his time in the industry the regulatory burden has become much tougher.
He said: “I think most well-managed, well-run insurance companies can cope with it but it is a massive, massive burden and has grown, even in my ten years, a significant amount.”
With the General Election looming, Mr Langan said he wanted to see more light touch regulation in the insurance industry from a future government. He said: “Light touch regulation please, sensible regulation, not regulation for the sake of regulation.”
Despite the Government’s rhetoric on having less regulation, Mr Langan said that it hadn’t been the case and that it was “quite the opposite” in the insurance industry.
The York site, which is due to be completed later this year in October, was chosen on the basis of the quality of the educated workforce and the city’s infrastructure.
Mr Langan said: “We had a set of criteria that we looked at in terms of infrastructure, infrastructure travel to London, cost base, quality of the educated workforce and really how welcoming the local authorities were.
“We had a long list of about eight cities, we got that down to two, three and York eventually won through in the end. It basically came near the top of all of those things but overall it was by far and away the most attractive option for us.”
The cost of the building, which is being built by BAM Construction, will be around £20m and will create 500 professional jobs in the city.
Mr Langan said: “Our growth plans in York will see us eventually have 500 professional jobs based on the site at Peasholme Green, those jobs will be everything from underwriters, solicitors, claim handlers, IT specialists, operation specialists.
“Basically, a full gamut of a modern day insurance company. It will be our largest office outside London.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Langan said that the majority of the workforce would be recruited from the York area.
“80 per cent of jobs we recruit for in York will be filled by people from in and around the York area with only 20 per cent being filled by the relocation of existing Hiscox staff,” he said.
Mr Langan joked that some may accuse him of being misty eyed and sentimental about the group choosing York, as that is where he had his very first job.
He said: “Over the five years that I spent here, I got to know a little bit about the people of York. I think I know the city and the people reasonably well, and speak from some experience when I say citizens of York are marked out by being welcoming, hard-working, open and very level headed.”
Mr Langan also said the city of York offered a unique quality of life. Hiscox estimates that once the office is operating at capacity it will directly contribute £25m per annum into the city.
The insurance firm hopes to grow the York base organically from its success in the UK insurance market. Lord Mayor of York, Ian Gillies, welcomed the progress on the building and Hiscox’s presence in the city.
At the ceremony, he said: “The first time I spoke to Steve was several years ago when looking at a different site in York and I realised then, what a professional and high quality company Hiscox were.”
The building is located in Hungate near the Black Swan pub in the city centre. It will occupy nearly 50,000 sq ft over four floors.
During the topping the roof ceremony a time capsule was also buried, containing items that represent Hiscox as a business and commemorate the date of the ceremony.
Building for the future
At the topping out ceremony Mr Langan said that the building, costing around £20m, has been inspired by the artisan and textile history of the site.
John Phillips, BAM Construction director, said: “I think we are creating a landmark building for York, there are some very special features to the design to make the building memorable.”
BAM Construction, who have been working on the site for the past eight months, have had to work around some sensitive archaeology, said Mr Phillips. The Lord Mayor of York, Ian Gillies, said: “It’s going to be an impressive building and I know it is being built to the highest standards.”