GRP broking chief executive Mike Bruce opens up his plans for broking group

When Aviva took the bold step to cut all agency with GRP earlier this year, it set the market talking.

Commentators were largely unflattering to GRP at the time, with the consolidator model and the subject of broker commissions placed under the microscope.

GRP’s chief executive of broking Mike Bruce says the broker bore a disproportionate amount of criticism at the time, but he insists that many clients are now even better off because of the events.

“The reaction has been very positive because like all things that happen it presents opportunities for others,” Bruce said.

“Because insurers have recognised that it’s good quality business, they have offered our clients enhanced wordings and enhanced propositions.

“So out of what many people thought would be a big problem for GRP, there’s actually been a upside for our clients.”

On Aviva’s exit, GRP were quick to replace the carrier, with Allianz, AXA and Zurich among those to pick up new business.

Through this Bruce said the outcome had been beneficial for GRP, by reinforcing its relationship with other partner insurers.


Yet Bruce still feels that consolidators are unfairly painted as commission chasers in the industry, and that it doesn’t reflect all the benefits that come with a consolidator model.

For GRP, he said the insurer’s combined operating ratio is always the overriding factor in any deal, but that bigger accounts commanding better deals is standard business practice across all sectors. 

Mike Bruce carousel

GRP’s Mike Bruce

“I think people in the industry get obsessed with consolidation being automatically bad,” he said. “Consolidation isn’t unique to insurance, and it generally all comes down to broadening distribution.

“People get totally focussed on the broker commission, but people ignore all the work we do for distribution.

“We’re the people who win the clients to then offer it to the market, we’re the ones that do the servicing, the first port of call for claims, the technical advice, processing the renewals – there’s a huge amount of work that we do that adds a lot of value to these clients.”

GRP operates a hub and spoke strategy of buying up larger regional hub brokers and supplying them with the funds to acquire smaller spoke brokers within that region.

Bruce says this brings the insurer closer to more clients, and that GRP is only looking to leverage that distribution.

He added: “We can’t dictate to insurers what commission they pay us, no broker can, but the insurers have to be comfortable that they make a profit and the broker’s level of renumeration is commensurate with the work that they do.

“If our commission rates were too high we would not be doing business with insurers.

 “Everything finds its own water level and if we’re out of kilter with any part of that we’d spot something going wrong in our business.”


Since the Aviva break-up, GRP has continued to acquire brokers at a rapid pace, including businesses that had traded with Aviva. Bruce says this demonstrates that the incident has not put brokers off joining up with GRP.

Bruce added: “We had to have a number of conversations and explain, but when those brokers saw the positive response and support from our other partner insurers, they clearly were comfortable enough to continue with the deal.”

GRP has so far this year completed 11 acquisitions, building on 2017 where it bought up 12.

And in 2019, Bruce is again looking for acquisitions in the double-digits, as it looks to pass £1bn GWP next year. It currently stands at around £750m GWP.

But Bruce stressed that the broker is not solely about acquiring for acquisitions sake, and said the new businesses joining GRP in the last couple of years have been thoroughly integrated.

“Behind the scenes we’ve been doing a huge amount of work with integration,” he said.

“Whether it’s standardising IT, looking after client money, compliance procedures, HR, payroll, standard broking procedures, product development, new business pipelines, there’s a whole host of things we do that is standard across the business which everyone benefits from.”

Since ex-Towergate boss Peter Cullum founded the broker in 2013, GRP has acquired 36 businesses and today employs over 1,400 employees. The growth has been rapid, and with Bruce indicating there is no predetermined end point in mind to its acquisitive appetite, it looks like the industry can expect to see GRP making waves for years to come.