President and CEO
COMPANY: BC Benefits
The Story: Getting sued by a multinational corporation might not be the ideal way to start a new business, but looking back, Christopher Redcliffe says the experience made him stronger. “When you’re cornered into a situation where there really isn’t anywhere to go, it’s that fight or flight moment.”
Vancouver-born Redcliffe began working for his father Norman’s insurance company, Redcliffe Investments, while studying economics at the University of Victoria. When the company was sold to insurance giant HUB International in 2008, Norman retired, but his son took a job with HUB. Redcliffe soon realized he didn’t like being “a cog in the wheel” of a large corporation, however, and in June 2012 left to form BC Benefits: a small firm specializing in group benefits and the same attention-to-client experience that had been the cornerstone of his father’s business.
When several clients asked to follow Redcliffe, he didn’t think the multibillion-dollar HUB would object to the loss of the relatively small portfolio. He was wrong. HUB rejected his initial offer to buy his clients’ books, and the company applied for an injunction to bar the then 26-year-old from practising insurance for two years.
Several agonizing—and expensive—months later, a judge rejected the application, and the two parties settled out of court for what Redcliffe calls a “fair” sum. It was a harrowing ordeal, and not one Redcliffe would recommend, but it solidified his resolve to follow his gut and build a company that he felt would better serve clients. “They were waiting for me to step up to the plate.”
Markers of success: Nearly two years in, BC Benefits boasts a permanent staff of three with up to 50 consultants available to advise clients; revenues have more than doubled, and client retention rates are 100 per cent. —Jessica Barrett
Meet Christopher Redcliffe and the rest of the 2015 30 Under 30 winners at this year's celebration event!