Fiona McQuillan is the Director of Sentient. Fiona discusses how Sentient formed, grew and became acquired by the Romero Group. Fiona also discusses the services provided by Sentient and their relationship with Romero Insurance Brokers.
You can watch the full interview here, or see below to read what Fiona has to say about We Are Wellbeing’s history, services and rebrand:
1. How did Sentient get started?
“Sentient was established in 2003. It was part of a legal firm, but operated as an individual department because it primarily only ever dealt with directors and companies, it never dealt with individuals or employees. In 2003, Sentient just did HR services, and then around 2008 it started to expand it’s services to include health and safety.
Around 2013 we expanded again to include food safety. The reason we did that is because we wanted to operate as a one-stop-shop for the employers that were using our service, so that when they had a matter that crossed over the two different sectors, we could provide the ongoing support and make sure consistency was applied throughout the business.”
2. How do Sentient’s services work?
“Sentient tends to deal with clients on an annual service agreement, so a client will work with us for a year, or three years at a time, and they can take as many or as little of the services as they choose. The packages tend to be bespoke to what the business needs at the time.
We operate on a primary consultant basis, we’ll have consultants allocated to each of our clients, so they have that consistency, and the consultant get to understand their business and their needs. And also understand where the business is going and what the objectives are for the employees and the strategy we are applying.”
3. What benefits can Sentient clients expect?
“Within a yearly contract the client would have the benefit of an advice line that operates 24/7. You will also get though to your primary consultant on the 24 hour line – it is not a call centre, we man the phones out of hours ourselves. You’ll also get access to a template bank. Access to us within working hours on emails. And also access to our webinars which are periodic throughout the year, and are free to all clients.”
4. Who do Sentient work with?
“We work with different HR setups within companies. We work with companies that have absolutely no-ones to do their HR; it might be that their payroll manager or their managing director deals with it. We also work with companies that have over 500 employees and have a dedicated HR team.
What our services do enables us to act as one of the team regardless of what experience they’ve got internally. So, we can be a second opinion to a set-up that already has HR functions, or we can be the guiding light for those that don’t have HR experience and walk them through each step that they need to do from a HR perspective.”
5. What are the services provided by Sentient?
“We can assist a company with any HR issue. It can be something as simple as calculating a part-time employee’s holiday, or a dispute, a grievance, or even a disciplinary. We don’t hold the disciplinary meetings because ethe company should look to do that internally, but what we would always do is help them prepare the right documentation, make sure all the right correspondence is sent out, and help them formulate all their documentation after the meeting as well. This ensure the company is protected as best as it can, and makes sure the employees get a fair hearing as well.”
6. What about health and safety?
“The services can be that we go and visit on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis – whatever the client needs, we can accommodate. They can be to carry out inspections, fire risk assessments, audits, or even work internally with their team on documents.
Providing we have a schedule of visits, we can also be appointed as the competent person for the company, which is obviously applied under legislation.”
7. What makes sentient stand out amongst the competition?
“There’s a lot of different companies out there who offer HR support; from your big institutions that work on a national basis, to the one-man-band type HR business. All of them have something to offer. But what I would say makes Sentient different is the fact that we’ve got such exposure to all the different areas of health and safety, HR, and food, but also that we’ve still got that personal service.
We allocated a dedicated person to clients. Our employers have been with us for a number of years and they stay loyal to the company. They get to know the company to make sure that we deliver a personal service yet we have the ability that the bigger competitors have.”
8. How did the relationship with Romero Insurance Brokers begin?
“Sentient has had an ongoing relationship with Romero Insurance Brokers for a number of years. They have provided the legal expenses insurance for our client based, and they’ve always worked to ensure that we could get great premiums for our clients. That led to a conversation between Justin Romero-Trigo, Simon Mabb and I about the potential acquisition of Sentient to add to their group. We all agreed that there was a great offering of all the services across the board and that they’d really compliment each other, especially with the addition of We Are Wellbeing as well.
We make sure we are able to offer wellbeing services to our client base, in addition to the insurance and HR services.”
9. How did you feel about the acquisition within the Romero Insurance Group?
“When the discussions about the acquisition first started I was very excited by the opportunity being offered. I’ve worked with Simon and Justin on a professional level but I’ve also known them for a number years on a personal level; I’ve always been impressed by their determination and their ambition for the group, so I want to give sentient, our employees and consultants, that opportunity as well.”
10. How does the acquisition benefit your clients?
“Both Romero Insurance Brokers and Sentient have always offered legal expenses insurance to their clients; with Sentient’s insurance offering through Romero Insurance Brokers; however since the acquisition we’ve been able to bring that together and now Sentient are the appointed advisors on any legal expenses insurance, and any HR matters. Here the clients would also take our advisory line.”
11. How does Sentient complement the Romero group’s services?
“We do a lot of risk management, where we try and reduce the risk as much as we can for businesses. But of course things do happen. And if they do, Sentient will work with the Romero Claims team, assisting them, and also work with the clients to ensure that the right actions are taken after and event. Sometimes there is an issue with the workplace culture, or with employees following an event, then we can work alongside the We Are Wellbeing team to try and improve that for them.”
12. Why has Sentient had a recent rebrand?
“Sentient would take the view that it was well overdue. Our old website was at least ten years old, but also following the acquisition we wanted to really show our position within the marketplace, and show that we’ve got this personal and friendly approach, wanting a website that represented that.”
Thank you to Fiona McQuillan, for highlighting the benefits of Sentient for Romero Insurance Brokers clients.
Contact your account handler or Sentient directly to start your organisation’s journey to a safer and more responsible workplace environment.