Marsh is gearing up for an aggressive drive into the SME market, Insurance Times has learned.

The broker is set to announce an external appointment to head up its commercial business, and has set ambitious targets of sustained double digit growth.

The appointment of the new commercial client head, which has yet to be revealed, follows a series of internal promotions in a bid to create a team focused on SME business.

Chris Lay, managing director Marsh UK, said the move should also annul criticisms that the company has failed to penetrate the untapped SME sector, valued at £10bn.

“In this market, there are question marks that global brokers have given up commercial space to the likes of Towergate,” Lay said. “We have to do a better job of evidencing our commitment to a local focus. We have been punching below our weight.”

Willis has recently announced its intentions to grow its SME business with the appointment of Royal & SunAlliance broker division boss Brendan McManus as its UK and Ireland chief executive. Tom Bartleet was also appointed to head up its global small commercial business.

“There are question marks that global brokers have given up commercial space to the likes of Towergate.

Chris Lay, MD Marsh UK

Marsh will pursue specific segments, including real estate, retail and small manufacturing – in particular, chemicals.

Lay pointed to the professions as being the leading target area, tying in well with the existing exploits of the company’s FinPro division.

He added the company was also looking to accelerate its commercial affinity offering with sport, leisure and entertainment the key markets.

Lay said: “There is room for everybody. We want to grow much more aggressively, especially in areas where we see a differential play. But we don’t want to be all things to all men.”

For a broader look at the SME market, please see Small to Massive Enterprise