Legal and professional fees broker Abbey Protection exceeded management’s expectations for 2010, after growing after-tax profits by 8% and boosting total revenues by 6% compared with 2009 levels.

But the firm still has some doubts about 2011, according to group managing director Chris Ward. “2010 turned out better than we expected because we did have some concerns about how fast we would be able to grow the business.”

Ward added that the growth was driven in part by retaining its existing insurance scheme base in legal and tax protection. But he attributed the bulk of the growth to both the legal and tax consultancy areas.

Abbey Protection’s 2010 profit after tax was £6.9m, compared with £6.4m in 2009. Total revenue, including intermediary and advisory income as well as premiums earned from its underwriting division, Ibex Reinsurance, was £34.9m in 2010, compared with £32.9m in 2009.

Ward said the outlook for 2011 was provisionally good, in part because of the deregulation of legal services in October, which will allow Abbey to expand its in-house legal offering.

But Ward pointed out that the number of employment-related calls the company is receiving has crept up, indicating a potential further retrenchment of Abbey’s SME client base and thus a reduction in their willingness to buy insurance. “So far there are no signs of that at all, but it would be wrong not to consider all the risks.

“2011 has started very well. We are delighted with trading, and I hope any concerns we have are going to be as misplaced about 2011 as they were about 2010.”