Bollington Wilson is one of few Top 50 brokers to find success without any London office - but being located in the north has it’s advantages according to chief executive Paul Moors

London’s rich history around insurance has made it a playground for brokers, with a firm seemingly located around every corner.

But as times move on and location becomes less crucial, one of several brokers proving that you don’t need a London base to find success is Bollington Wilson.

Backed by British private equity house Inflexion, which bought Bollington and Wilson simultaneously in November 2017 to bring the companies together in a merger, the firm has emerged as one of the country’s leading northern-headquartered brokers.

Bollington alone cracked the Insurance Times Top 50 Brokers list last year, placing 43rd, before consideration of Wilson’s contribution to the group. Factor in the notable consolidation of several larger brokers in that list, and Bollington Wilson could expect to climb the ladder even further this year as one of the UK’s largest brokers.

Now, with the exception of the international brokers, Bollington Wilson has an eye to challenging some of it’s biggest London rivals for scale.

“We’re certainly looking to develop and grow the business through acquisitions,” said Bollington Wilson chief executive Paul Moors, revealing the firm currently has one potential acquisition going through due diligence.


Having completed all aspects of integrating the two businesses last year, Moors said this year was about developing the new business. He said growth opportunities from the merger were still to be fully realised, and that this made a sale from Inflexion any time soon highly unlikely.

Paul Moors Bollington

Paul Moors, Bollington Wilson

“We’ve been able to put two very sizeable businesses together and we now can develop the organic growth from those two businesses. 

“We can develop a cross selling strategy within the businesses and we can also look at acquisitions. So we’re in a good position to develop the business.”

The broker is based in Manchester, with offices in Liverpool and Stockport. But Moors said the absence of a London office had not held the broker back.

“Although we’re in the northwest, I don’t feel it’s a particular disadvantage,” he said. “We’ve got access to most of the key decision makers at the London-centric insurers and we’ve got a regional presence, too.”


The company currently has a GWP of £160m, which it hopes to bring up to £180m by the end of the year, excluding the impact of any acquisitions made.

The firm has 450 staff, several of whom have been with the broker for 30-40 years, which Moors put down to the unique culture.

He added: “One of the benefits is we can develop our own culture by being in the north and we can build and develop a very loyal workforce.”

Moors wouldn’t rule out the possibility of opening a London office in the future or acquiring a southern broker, but he said geography was not the most significant factor in those decisions.

Its personal lines business is distributed through aggregator sites and affinity business, meaning it can be based anywhere, and on the advantages of having a London office, he said “it depends on the type of business you want to write”.

He said Bollington Wilson’s acquisitions would be strategic rather than looking to fill out the map with geographic reach. In this respect he said it distinguishes the firm from other private equity backed brokers in the market.

“I don’t think we’re a consolidator in the traditional term,” Moors said. “We’re going to look to buy business that we feel that we can add to and develop rather than those we simply close, shrink, or take costs out of. 

“So we’re looking to acquire businesses that can work in areas that we’re already strong in or have unique and advantageous distribution in their own sectors. Any firm where we can work together to extract more value.”

Private equity 

It remains to be seen how Inflexion’s latest insurance investment, Liverpool-based specialist motor MGA Granite Underwriting, will affect Bollington Wilson. But Moors is confident there will be no shared strategy there and the investments will remain distinct.

He says he is in regular contact with Inflexion and the PE house is supportive of Moors’ plans for this year. 

He said: “The priority for 2019 is to make sure we get the income growth both by acquisitions and organically. 

“We’re looking at developing new and exclusive products and they will be distributed both by retail to our existing clients and wholesale through other broker partners we have.”

Operating in a wide range of areas including corporate, SME, fleet and risk management, Bollington has shown opportunities are out there for non-London based firms in the commercial sector.

Moors claims the care business has UK-wide reach. Having won investment from Inflexion, it appears there is confidence that similar scale can be achieved in other lines without a London base - a positive sign for all northern commercial brokers looking to add scale.