Creating a post-M&A culture for success

Pepper Money acquires Optimum Credit

9.5 /10

Town Hall employee satisfaction score after project (up from 7.5 out of 10)


Of staff believe that continuing the approach will build a better business and brighter future.


Pepper Money

Pepper Money is an award-winning UK specialised mortgage lender – part of Pepper Group, with a head office based in Sydney, Australia. In 2019 Pepper Money acquired Optimum Credit, founded in 2012 based in Cardiff. Due to Covid and various legislative reasons the M&A wasn’t fully completed until 2021.


The two businesses had very different service offerings, operating models and cultures, they needed to be carefully integrated to make the M&A a success. 
As a specialist in complex organisational culture, Culture Consultancy was briefed to:
  • Assess the cultures in both businesses and agree on the strategic priorities.
  • Discover where each business was culturally aligned and where they differed.
  • Design and define the new culture of the new entity.
  • Create an integration plan to align the businesses through the new culture.
  • Develop expected behaviours and ways of working, based on the newly defined culture.
  • Create and implement a communications and engagement plan to support the launch of the new culture.
  • Develop and implement the roadmap for embedding the new culture.


We applied our award-winning 3-stage culture change methodology as a foundation. We tailored the methodology to the client’s needs throughout the process to ensure we could deliver a strong future-proof culture.


Stage 1: Insight

Understanding & assessing the existing cultures

We engaged with senior leadership and employees of both Pepper Money and Optimum Credit to gain insight. We were diligent in our approach, encouraging openness and honesty to really get under the skin of both cultures. 

We designed a bespoke Cultural Assessment Framework, enabling us to: 

  • Gather insight into the cultural dynamics within both businesses, through interviews, surveys and focus groups.
  • Identify immediate actions to kick start behavioural alignment and realise early benefits.
  • Gain deep insights to  the development of the future culture.
  • Consider which were the best elements of both cultures to hold onto.
  • Understand the cultural links between the UK and global Pepper Money business.

Stage 2: Design

Designing the future culture


The next phase was to design and articulate what the culture of the merged companies should be, to enable fulfilment of the future ambitions and ensure benefit realisation from the transaction. To do this we: 

  • Facilitated two senior leadership workshops, to validate the conclusions from the Insight phase. In these sessions, the ‘case for change’ was agreed upon, and the senior leadership of both businesses were fully bought-into the cultural change journey to align both businesses.

  • Crafted a future-proofed culture definition, aligning the Pepper Global values for the UK market, which resulted in 4 cultural principles to underpin the culture of the new entity. 

  • Created a strategic narrative – a powerful story to further engage and align people from both businesses with the future culture. This connected the past to the present, and the future.

  • Designed a framework of expected behaviours, incorporating the essential FCA regulation requirements which would ensure compliant ways of working could become second nature to the employees of the new entity. 

  • Developed the action plan, communication plan, and launch campaign.


Culture principles were then used to redesign the employee experience – critical in attracting and retaining talent within the new entity.  Changes to policies, processes, governance and work practices were identified to align and reinforce the desired culture.

Stage 3: Embed

Embedding the new culture to make it stick

Ensuring the defined culture became a lived reality, engrained in the employee experience and embedded through Team-Based-Embedding workshops.

Team-Based Embedding workshops

We co-facilitated Team-Based Embedding workshops with HR, the leadership team and managers, to upskill the team and change their ways of working to align with the new culture principles. We equipped them with all the tools and support to own and deliver the embedding of the culture; to make it stick.

Team-Based Embedding workshops included:  

  • Outline of the cultural principles that lie at the heart of the business; its purpose, vision, and mission.
  • Deep-dive into the new behaviours, new ways of working and business impact.
  • Interactive section on how the teams’ work will contribute and how the values will be embedded in their day-to-day work-life.
  • Specially designed toolkits to support the embed phase: Videos, detailed process documents, workshop templates, visual management, worksheets and checklists, inspirational videos/ted talks, sharing best practice, tools & techniques, top tips.


  • Successfully developed and launched the new culture to support the merged company’s future ambitions and strategic goals, equipping the team with the tools to own and evolve their future culture.
  • Teams are now in the rhythm of regular review cycles as part of Team-Based Embedding, enabling them to continually challenge their ways of working and ensure they fully embrace the culture.
  • 98% employees found the team based embedding sessions extremely valuable to their team, and 98%  believe that continuing the approach will build a better business and  brighter future going forwards.
  • Internal communications: Town Hall satisfaction increase from 7.5 to 9.5 out of 10. Successful podcast launched internally and externally.
  • Pepper Academy now in place, focused on internal learning & development, including regular lunch and learn sessions.
  • Significant increase in Trustpilot score.
  • The culture is now embedded in the employee lifecycle so all employees feel more connected to the business purpose, mission, strategy and culture principles.

What the client had to say

“We were so impressed with Culture Consultancy. They have taken something very complicated and made it simple. We’re thrilled about the new culture they helped us create, and the way that they’ve supported and challenged us throughout has pushed us on even further than we could have anticipated. We’re seeing early signs of a successful M&A and we couldn’t be more excited for the future of the business.” 

Greg Ingleton – HR Director

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