(L-R): Aceso’s Leeds team, Mike Picken, Matt Howarth, Louise Pratt, Aaron Barton, Paul Collin
Aceso’s Leeds team (L-R): Mike Picken, Matt Howarth, Louise Pratt, Aaron Barton, Paul Collin.
Austen Shakespeare

This week's Yorkshire appointments

Paul Collin, Matt Howarth, Aceso Health and Group Risk

Leeds-based employee benefits firm Aceso Health and Group Risk has made two senior appointments to its growing national team.

Part of the Attis Insurance group, launched last year by Joe Henderson who sold his Leeds-based Henderson Insurance business to US firm Aon in 2017, Aceso provides benefits packages covering employee health and wellbeing and group risk.

Headquartered in Leeds, the firm has five regional offices located across the North of England and the Midlands.

With 25 years’ experience in financial services, Paul Collin joins the firm as director of group risk, while Matt Howarth, a specialist in private medical insurance and wellbeing, comes on board as account executive with responsibility for business development.

In his new role, Paul, who worked for Henderson for over a decade, is reunited with Aceso directors and former Henderson colleagues, Mike Picken and Louise Pratt. Beginning his financial services career at CGU, Paul worked for IFAs and insurance brokers at local, regional and national levels before specialising in group risk in 2015.

Matt has over a decade’s experience in the insurance industry and is also a former colleague of Louise.

Paul said: “Employee benefits are often misunderstood and poorly managed because they are constantly evolving.

“Especially in the post Covid world, where recruiting and retaining the best people is more challenging than ever, their importance to both employees and employers is becoming increasingly evident, with industry statistics showing benefits packages can now be even more desirable to employees than flexible working options.

“The best advice and support is more critical than ever for business owners, their people managers and ultimately their employees. That’s where Aceso can help and I’m really pleased to be joining the team.”

Aceso executive director Mike Picken said: “We know Paul and Matt already share our strong ethos of customer care and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the firm.

“Health insurance is unlike insuring a car or a property because it’s extremely personal. At Aceso we’re committed to providing the very best service and advice to customers, and ensuring they can always pick up the phone and speak to a qualified and experienced member of our team.”

James Hunt, Joel Topham, Helen Daniels, Gunhild Dam, Sagars

Leeds-based chartered accountancy and business advisory firm Sagars, an AAB Group company, is enhancing its leadership team with four key appointments.

James Hunt, Joel Topham, Helen Daniels and Gunhild Dam have been promoted to the newly created Director position, effective from January 1, 2022.

James, Joel and Helen provide audit, accountancy, taxation and business advisory services and Gunhild is a private client specialist.

James is experienced in leading audits for a variety of different businesses, ranging from law firms and manufacturing companies to larger international groups.

He is also a senior member of the firm’s virtual finance team, with particular expertise in helping clients maximise the benefits of tech solutions, using apps and cloud accounting to greatly speed up transaction processing, better integrate their financial systems and improve the quality and relevance of management information.

Joel is dedicated to supporting professional practices and owner-managed businesses, assisting with forecasting, improving the production of management information and providing solutions to a range of practice management issues.

Helen has significant experience working closely with charities and not-for-profit organisations. She supports them in preparing monthly management accounts and cashflow forecasts, and assists clients with a range of business management issues.

Gunhild provides specialist tax advice to high net worth individuals and their families, trusts, trustees and beneficiaries, as well as business owners and entrepreneurs. She also supports non-UK resident and non-UK domiciled individuals.

Focussing on wealth preservation and managing the main taxes, Gunhild is particularly experienced in the taxation of family and owner-managed businesses.

Chris Jones, Managing Partner at Sagars, commented: “These appointments are richly deserved, recognising not only the skill and expertise of each individual, but the contributions they have made to their respective teams.

“One of the driving factors behind our recent merger with AAB was to provide great opportunities for our team. The introduction of the Director role is one of the first steps in ensuring that we can deliver on this commitment, while also aligning our approach with that of the wider AAB group.

“Going forward, our strong and diverse leadership team will not only support the growth aspirations of our business, but also strengthen our ability to deliver the very best client service across a changing market in the UK and globally.”

Fiona Gell, Sunny Bank Mills

Fiona Gell, an experienced marketing and communications professional, has joined the management team at the Sunny Bank Mills complex in Farsley, near Leeds.

Fiona arrives at Sunny Bank Mills, from the Leeds Library, another of the city’s heritage gems.

She commented: “This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for me and I am proud to be joining a close-knit and talented team. Sunny Bank Mills is a truly inspirational and creative place to be with a real sense of community.

“I’m very much looking forward to telling our stories. There’s so much here to get involved with - be that through our wonderful tenants, our fabulous Art Gallery or the heritage treasure that is our Archive. It’s a very exciting time to be at the Mills.”

John Gaunt, joint managing director of Edwin Woodhouse and Sons, the owners of Sunny Bank Mills, added: “We are delighted to welcome Fiona to our team at Sunny Bank Mills in her role as Marketing and Engagement Officer.

“Our commercial and cultural activities span far and wide. We have exciting stories to be told about the businesses coming to Sunny Bank Mills, about its historic past and its cultural future. We need someone like Fiona who has the skill, experience and passion to engage with people to help us make this happen”.

Chris Oakley, ZOO Digital

ZOO Digital, a provider of globalization services to the entertainment industry, has announced Chris Oakley has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer.

In his 18 years with ZOO Digital, Oakley has helped spearhead flagship platforms such as ZOOstudio, ZOOdubs and ZOOsubs while working closely with clients to better understand their needs and deliver ongoing value and support through technology.

During 2021, Oakley grew the ZOO Digital development team by 50 per cent to better support clients. During his tenure he has created measurable value for customers and served as a role model for employees throughout his career.

In his new role as CTO, Oakley will be responsible for continuing to grow the ZOO Digital Labs technical center of excellence within ZOO to support and future-proof the globalization industry.

ZOO digital president, Gordon Doran, said: “We are thrilled to announce the promotion of Chris Oakley to Chief Technology Officer.

“Chris has been with the company for 18 years and was originally hired as a QA engineer; he has progressed in his career through his dedication, progressive thinking, leadership qualities and commitment to ZOO.

“In his new role, Chris will play a key part in the direction and leadership of the department along with contributing to the strategic direction of ZOO through its technology.”

Chris commented: “I really couldn’t be prouder of the team that we’ve assembled and the technology we’ve created to serve the future of entertainment. As CTO, this gives me the opportunity to build – both in terms of our reputation and what we can achieve for our clients and the wider industry,” Oakley said of his new role.

“The work that ZOO Digital Labs is doing behind the scenes solves real-world challenges for the global entertainment industry, working with the biggest names around to provide improved quality, faster deliverables, better information, reduced costs – by creating technology to support and enhance creative services.

“We’re continuing to build on this success and boost our in-house R&D team to ensure that we are always at the forefront of this innovation.”

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