Background Two

Our People

Introducing our team

We have an experienced, founder-led management team. Our employees are core to the success of the Group, both individually and collectively.

Utmost Group plc Board

Utmost Group Team

Our employees enjoy a diverse and vibrant work environment which enables them to achieve their aspirations and reach their full potential. We encourage each employee to embrace our values to make a positive difference.

Our Values

Utmost Group plc Board

James-Fraser

James Fraser

Chairman

James Fraser

Chairman

James Fraser is the Chairman of Utmost Group plc.

  • He is also a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Risk and Compliance Committee of Duologi, a specialist lending business. He was previously a Non-Executive Director at Hermes Fund Managers, a UK investment management business.
  • Prior to this, James was a Partner and Head of Financial Services at Permira Advisers, a leading private equity firm. He served as a Non-Executive Director on a number of Permira’s portfolio companies including Tilney Group, where he was also Chairman of the Risk and Audit Committee, and Just Group plc, now a FTSE250 insurance group.
  • Previously he was a Partner and Co-Head of Financial Services at L.E.K. Consulting, a global strategy consulting firm.
  • James holds a BSc (Hons) in Computational Science from the University of St Andrews and an MBA from INSEAD.
Paul

Paul Thompson

Group Chief Executive Officer

Paul Thompson

Group Chief Executive Officer

Paul is Group CEO and co-founded the Group in 2013.

  • Initial career as an investment banker specialising in financial institutions.
  • Joined Britannic Group in 2002 as Group FD and appointed Group CEO in 2003. Led the restructuring of the Group and its repositioning as a life assurance consolidator.
  • Merged with Resolution I in 2005, becoming Group CEO of the merged group. The resultant entity was subsequently sold to Pearl Group (now Phoenix) in 2008.
  • Head of Pamplona financial services practice, leading investments in Chaucer (UK listed Lloyds underwriter) and Oakwood (UK specialist mortgage servicer) between 2008 and 2012.
  • Co-founded Utmost Group in 2013.
Ian

Ian Maidens

Group Chief Financial Officer

Ian Maidens

Group Chief Financial Officer

Ian is Group CFO and co-founded the Group in 2013.

  • Started his career in life assurance and subsequently moved to actuarial consultancy.
  • Worked with Resolution I from its inception in early 2003.
  • Following the merger with Britannic Group, Ian was a director of the resulting Resolution plc and Group Chief Actuary and Head of Corporate Development.
  • Became a founding partner of Resolution II in 2008, and led the activity to create what became Friends Life Group.
  • Left Resolution II to co-found Utmost Group when arrangements between the Resolution group and the listed company ended in 2013.
Gavin-Palmer

Gavin Palmer

Independent Non-executive director and Group Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee Chairman

Gavin Palmer

Independent Non-executive director and Group Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee Chairman

Gavin is an Independent Non-Executive Director of Utmost Group plc and Group Chairman of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee.

  • Prior to this, Gavin was an Actuarial Partner at KPMG with extensive experience advising UK and European insurance companies.
  • Previously, Gavin worked as a Principal at Tillinghast / Towers Perrin, a specialist actuarial consultancy, where he was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Towers Perrin Capital Markets. Initially he trained as a life actuary at London and Manchester Assurance.
  • Gavin is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and holds an MA in Mathematics from the University of Oxford.
Chris-Boehringer

Chris Boehringer

Non-Executive Director, Oaktree Capital Management

Chris Boehringer

Non-Executive Director, Oaktree Capital Management

Chris is a Non-Executive Director of Utmost Group plc.

  • Chris is a Managing Director and Head of Europe Opportunities Funds at Oaktree Capital Management, based in London. Prior to joining Oaktree in 2006, Chris worked at Goldman Sachs in London, and was Co-Founder and Director of FITravel Corporation, an internet-based distribution system for travel products.
  • Chris held previous roles at Warburg Dillon Read/SG Warburg in London, Hong Kong and New York, and at LTU GmbH & Co. in Duesseldorf.
  • Chris holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University and an MBA from INSEAD.
Katy-Ralph

Katherine Ralph

Non-Executive Director, Oaktree Capital Management

Katherine Ralph

Non-Executive Director, Oaktree Capital Management

Katy is a Non-Executive Director of Utmost Group plc.

  • Katy is a Managing Director in the Opportunities Funds team at Oaktree Capital Management in London, where she provides transactional and restructuring advice. She also serves on a number of Oaktree portfolio company boards across a number of sectors and jurisdictions.
  • Prior to this, Katy spent over nine years at Linklaters LLP in the Restructuring and Insolvency team in London where she specialised in cross-border restructurings and insolvency.
  • Katy holds both a BA (Hons) in History and an MA from the University of Cambridge, and graduated cum laude with an LLM in Banking, Corporate and Finance Law from Fordham University. She is qualified to practice law in both England & Wales and New York State.

Utmost Group Team

tom_toulson

Tom Toulson

Head of Group Finance

Tom Toulson

Head of Group Finance

Tom is Head of Group Finance, reporting to the Group CFO

  • Tom joined in October 2019 and heads up the Group Finance team, reporting directly to the Group CFO.
  • Trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG LLP, providing audit and assurance services across a range of financial services clients.
  • Specialising in the insurance sector, Tom has previously worked on the audits of listed insurers across life and non-life.
Sandra-Knowles

Sandra Knowles

Group Head of HR

Sandra Knowles

Group Head of HR

Sandra is Group Head of HR, reporting to the Group CEO.

  • Sandra leads the Group’s HR capabilities, ensuring our HR teams deliver full and effective support to achieving the Group’s strategy and target culture.
  • Joined Utmost Group in February 2021 from Aviva plc where she worked for 15 years in a variety of roles, latterly as Head of HR Business Partnering.
  • In 2018/19, Sandra was seconded from Aviva into a London based charity, Business in the Community, as their Director of People and Culture.
  • Prior to Aviva, she worked in HR roles at Addleshaw Goddard Solicitors, Davies Arnold Cooper Solicitors, Lloyds Register of Shipping and in various NHS Trusts.
Neil-Povey

Neil Povey

Head of Group Actuarial

Neil Povey

Head of Group Actuarial

Neil is Head of Group Actuarial, reporting to the Group CFO

  • Joined Utmost Group in April 2019. He leads the aggregation and consistency of actuarial results and analysis across the Group, working collaboratively with the Chief Actuaries of the subsidiary companies.
  • A qualified actuary, Neil brings over 10 years of experience working in the life insurance industry.
  • Prior to joining Utmost Group, Neil worked at Prudential UK, where he developed Solvency II projection capabilities, transacted bulk annuity deals, set with-profit bonuses and reported on annuities and ERM
mark

Mark Fairbairn

Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs

Mark Fairbairn

Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs

Mark is Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, reporting to the Group CEO.

  • Joined Utmost Group in September 2023 from Prudential plc where he worked for 12 years in variety of leadership roles across key areas of Finance, Investor Relations and Strategy. Most recently Mark was Regional Director for Strategy, based in Hong Kong.
  • Prior to Prudential, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG LLP, providing audit and advisory services specialising in the insurance sector.
Dan-Peacock

Dan Peacock

Group Chief Operating Officer

Dan Peacock

Group Chief Operating Officer

Dan is Group Chief Operating Officer, reporting to the Group CEO

  • Dan joined in July 2021. He previously worked at AIG for 9 years in a variety of IT leadership roles, most recently as CIO of UK & Global Speciality
  • Prior to AIG, Dan worked at Marsh, BNP Paribas, and Fujitsu Consulting
Larysa

Larysa Dlaboha

Group Company Secretary

Larysa Dlaboha

Group Company Secretary

Larysa is Group Company Secretary reporting to the Group CFO.

  • Larysa joined in September 2022 and is responsible for providing governance advice and guidance to the Group Board and Company Secretary functions.
  • Larysa is an associate of the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland with over 10 years’ experience in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market working for several syndicates and has been involved in number of M&A projects.
Duncan

Duncan Finley

Group Head of Tax

Duncan Finley

Group Head of Tax

Duncan is Group Head of Tax, reporting to the Group CFO.

  • Duncan joined in March 2022 from Swiss Re where he was most recently Senior International Tax Manager.
  • Prior to Swiss Re, Duncan worked at KPMG and L&G.
Lydia

Lydia Buttinger

Group Head of Risk and Compliance

Lydia Buttinger

Group Head of Risk and Compliance

Lydia is Group Head of Risk and Compliance, reporting to the Group CFO

  • Lydia joined in 2023 and leads the Risk and Compliance team
  • Previously Lydia worked at abrdn in a number of senior leadership roles, most recently as Head of Shared Services in Risk and Compliance. Prior to this Lydia worked at the UK financial regulator, the FCA, and its predecessor, the FSA
  • Lydia is a qualified Chartered Accountant

James Fraser

Chairman

James Fraser is the Chairman of Utmost Group plc.

  • He is also a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Risk and Compliance Committee of Duologi, a specialist lending business. He was previously a Non-Executive Director at Hermes Fund Managers, a UK investment management business.
  • Prior to this, James was a Partner and Head of Financial Services at Permira Advisers, a leading private equity firm. He served as a Non-Executive Director on a number of Permira’s portfolio companies including Tilney Group, where he was also Chairman of the Risk and Audit Committee, and Just Group plc, now a FTSE250 insurance group.
  • Previously he was a Partner and Co-Head of Financial Services at L.E.K. Consulting, a global strategy consulting firm.
  • James holds a BSc (Hons) in Computational Science from the University of St Andrews and an MBA from INSEAD.

Paul Thompson

Group Chief Executive Officer

Paul is Group CEO and co-founded the Group in 2013.

  • Initial career as an investment banker specialising in financial institutions.
  • Joined Britannic Group in 2002 as Group FD and appointed Group CEO in 2003. Led the restructuring of the Group and its repositioning as a life assurance consolidator.
  • Merged with Resolution I in 2005, becoming Group CEO of the merged group. The resultant entity was subsequently sold to Pearl Group (now Phoenix) in 2008.
  • Head of Pamplona financial services practice, leading investments in Chaucer (UK listed Lloyds underwriter) and Oakwood (UK specialist mortgage servicer) between 2008 and 2012.
  • Co-founded Utmost Group in 2013.

Ian Maidens

Group Chief Financial Officer

Ian is Group CFO and co-founded the Group in 2013.

  • Started his career in life assurance and subsequently moved to actuarial consultancy.
  • Worked with Resolution I from its inception in early 2003.
  • Following the merger with Britannic Group, Ian was a director of the resulting Resolution plc and Group Chief Actuary and Head of Corporate Development.
  • Became a founding partner of Resolution II in 2008, and led the activity to create what became Friends Life Group.
  • Left Resolution II to co-found Utmost Group when arrangements between the Resolution group and the listed company ended in 2013.

Gavin Palmer

Independent Non-executive director and Group Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee Chairman

Gavin is an Independent Non-Executive Director of Utmost Group plc and Group Chairman of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee.

  • Prior to this, Gavin was an Actuarial Partner at KPMG with extensive experience advising UK and European insurance companies.
  • Previously, Gavin worked as a Principal at Tillinghast / Towers Perrin, a specialist actuarial consultancy, where he was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Towers Perrin Capital Markets. Initially he trained as a life actuary at London and Manchester Assurance.
  • Gavin is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and holds an MA in Mathematics from the University of Oxford.

Chris Boehringer

Non-Executive Director, Oaktree Capital Management

Chris is a Non-Executive Director of Utmost Group plc.

  • Chris is a Managing Director and Head of Europe Opportunities Funds at Oaktree Capital Management, based in London. Prior to joining Oaktree in 2006, Chris worked at Goldman Sachs in London, and was Co-Founder and Director of FITravel Corporation, an internet-based distribution system for travel products.
  • Chris held previous roles at Warburg Dillon Read/SG Warburg in London, Hong Kong and New York, and at LTU GmbH & Co. in Duesseldorf.
  • Chris holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University and an MBA from INSEAD.

Katherine Ralph

Non-Executive Director, Oaktree Capital Management

Katy is a Non-Executive Director of Utmost Group plc.

  • Katy is a Managing Director in the Opportunities Funds team at Oaktree Capital Management in London, where she provides transactional and restructuring advice. She also serves on a number of Oaktree portfolio company boards across a number of sectors and jurisdictions.
  • Prior to this, Katy spent over nine years at Linklaters LLP in the Restructuring and Insolvency team in London where she specialised in cross-border restructurings and insolvency.
  • Katy holds both a BA (Hons) in History and an MA from the University of Cambridge, and graduated cum laude with an LLM in Banking, Corporate and Finance Law from Fordham University. She is qualified to practice law in both England & Wales and New York State.

Tom Toulson

Head of Group Finance

Tom is Head of Group Finance, reporting to the Group CFO

  • Tom joined in October 2019 and heads up the Group Finance team, reporting directly to the Group CFO.
  • Trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG LLP, providing audit and assurance services across a range of financial services clients.
  • Specialising in the insurance sector, Tom has previously worked on the audits of listed insurers across life and non-life.

Sandra Knowles

Group Head of HR

Sandra is Group Head of HR, reporting to the Group CEO.

  • Sandra leads the Group’s HR capabilities, ensuring our HR teams deliver full and effective support to achieving the Group’s strategy and target culture.
  • Joined Utmost Group in February 2021 from Aviva plc where she worked for 15 years in a variety of roles, latterly as Head of HR Business Partnering.
  • In 2018/19, Sandra was seconded from Aviva into a London based charity, Business in the Community, as their Director of People and Culture.
  • Prior to Aviva, she worked in HR roles at Addleshaw Goddard Solicitors, Davies Arnold Cooper Solicitors, Lloyds Register of Shipping and in various NHS Trusts.

Neil Povey

Head of Group Actuarial

Neil is Head of Group Actuarial, reporting to the Group CFO

  • Joined Utmost Group in April 2019. He leads the aggregation and consistency of actuarial results and analysis across the Group, working collaboratively with the Chief Actuaries of the subsidiary companies.
  • A qualified actuary, Neil brings over 10 years of experience working in the life insurance industry.
  • Prior to joining Utmost Group, Neil worked at Prudential UK, where he developed Solvency II projection capabilities, transacted bulk annuity deals, set with-profit bonuses and reported on annuities and ERM

Mark Fairbairn

Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs

Mark is Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, reporting to the Group CEO.

  • Joined Utmost Group in September 2023 from Prudential plc where he worked for 12 years in variety of leadership roles across key areas of Finance, Investor Relations and Strategy. Most recently Mark was Regional Director for Strategy, based in Hong Kong.
  • Prior to Prudential, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG LLP, providing audit and advisory services specialising in the insurance sector.

Dan Peacock

Group Chief Operating Officer

Dan is Group Chief Operating Officer, reporting to the Group CEO

  • Dan joined in July 2021. He previously worked at AIG for 9 years in a variety of IT leadership roles, most recently as CIO of UK & Global Speciality
  • Prior to AIG, Dan worked at Marsh, BNP Paribas, and Fujitsu Consulting

Larysa Dlaboha

Group Company Secretary

Larysa is Group Company Secretary reporting to the Group CFO.

  • Larysa joined in September 2022 and is responsible for providing governance advice and guidance to the Group Board and Company Secretary functions.
  • Larysa is an associate of the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland with over 10 years’ experience in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market working for several syndicates and has been involved in number of M&A projects.

Duncan Finley

Group Head of Tax

Duncan is Group Head of Tax, reporting to the Group CFO.

  • Duncan joined in March 2022 from Swiss Re where he was most recently Senior International Tax Manager.
  • Prior to Swiss Re, Duncan worked at KPMG and L&G.

Lydia Buttinger

Group Head of Risk and Compliance

Lydia is Group Head of Risk and Compliance, reporting to the Group CFO

  • Lydia joined in 2023 and leads the Risk and Compliance team
  • Previously Lydia worked at abrdn in a number of senior leadership roles, most recently as Head of Shared Services in Risk and Compliance. Prior to this Lydia worked at the UK financial regulator, the FCA, and its predecessor, the FSA
  • Lydia is a qualified Chartered Accountant