Gallagher, a global business insurance, risk management, and consulting services company, has today announced three executive leaders to Gallagher's Benefits & HR Consulting Division in the UK:

  • Lee Cook, Managing Director of Pensions Administration Services
  • John Deacon, Head of Corporate Consulting, Employee Benefits
  • Vishal Makkar, Managing Director, UK Wealth Consulting

All three leaders came to Gallagher through its acquisition of Buck in 2023.

Lee Cook, previously head of Pensions Administration at Buck, brings with him 32 years of experience in the pensions sector. He has developed in-depth specialist expertise across several different practices, including corporate pensions, employee benefits, software development, strategy, and administration. As Managing Director, Pension Administration Services, Cook will focus on strategy, financial performance, and continued growth as he leads his team to deliver outsourcing services for over 170 pension schemes and 430,000 members.

John Deacon, previously Head of Employee Benefits at Buck, will transition into a new position as Head of Corporate Consulting, Employee Benefits. The Corporate Consulting team forms part of the wider UK Employee Benefits business, led by Steve Threader, Managing Director, which also includes the Small to Medium Enterprise and Specialist Markets teams. Deacon brings over 30 years of financial services experience. He has an assured grasp of technology and its increasing role in delivering complex benefit programmes on both a national and global level. He will direct a team of consultants to provide industry-leading solutions in group risk, healthcare, workplace savings, and client technology to UK corporations and will drive the growth of the firm’s offering in the employee benefits and HR sector.

Previously Head of Retirement Consulting at Buck, Vishal Makkar is a qualified actuary with over 20 years of experience and serves as a member of the Main Committee of the Association of Consulting Actuaries. In his role as Managing Director, UK Wealth Consulting, Makkar will offer strategic direction for the DB pensions consulting business as well as having operational oversight of Gallagher’s actuarial, investment, and secretarial consulting teams. He will provide trustees and sponsors of UK pension schemes with sharp and pragmatic guidance to secure their members’ benefits. Makkar will also continue to serve as a dedicated scheme actuary for high-profile clients.

Cook, Deacon and Makkar will draw upon a wealth of knowledge to grow the business’s presence in all three of these core areas. The news follows the transition of David Piltz from UK Managing Director at Buck to CEO at Gallagher’s UK Benefits & HR Consulting Division last year, and the recent appointment of Alistair Dornan as Chief Revenue Officer, both reflective of the company’s solid growth trajectory in the UK.

"The UK economic environment has changed massively over the last few years, not least decades of high inflation and economic uncertainty driven by uncontrollable global factors. Trustees will depend on robust and clear guidance now more than ever. Whether it’s advice on scheme funding, investment strategy, risk transfer or governance, our consultants offer immense value through their expertise. It was with that in mind that Gallagher acquired Buck, and it is what will propel the business to setting the benchmark on wealth consulting over the coming years,” said Makkar.

“Gallagher is rightly committed to offering an outstanding customer experience to pension schemes and their associated members. Through our excellent delivery teams, complimented by our suite of digital solutions and our market leading communications teams, we are providing a valued combination of high-quality member engagement and strategic support to pension fund clients. It’s a privilege to lead the team as we rapidly approach 500,000 members who benefit from our leading solutions,” said Cook.

“In a time where employee retention is an increasingly pressing challenge, companies must not underestimate the value of an employee benefits programme. Steady change management and intuitive benefits design will be key to ensuring employees remain actively engaged with their benefits. At Buck, we built up a considerable client base who trust us to deliver on-time and at a consistent level of quality. The opportunity to take this expertise to my role at Gallagher and to lead strategic thinking on our Corporate Consulting arm is a professional highlight,” said John Deacon.

In closing, David Piltz commented: “As the Buck team officially integrates into the Gallagher family, I’m delighted to welcome my colleagues into the next phase of our growth. Lee, Vishal and John’s leadership skills, work ethic and combined experience will be a welcome addition to the Gallagher team. Each of them offers a vast breadth of expertise that will provide a foundation for our growth as we continue to roll out fresh innovations across our pensions, administration, employee benefits, communications, and workplace culture offerings.”