First underwriter has joined Bristol branch

AXA has hired the first underwriter for its Bristol branch as it looks to beef up its presence in the South West.

The insurer had previously handled all underwriting for local brokers from its Birmingham office, with only broker account managers operating from the Bristol branch.

But Graham Ashmore has now been appointed underwriting manager for the South West and Wales. He will join from RSA in Q3 at the end of his gardening leave and will have full responsibility for the risks presented to AXA across the region.

Insurance Times understands the operation will be bolstered by a number of other underwriters in coming weeks as AXA looks to double its headcount in the region from 10 to 20 people by the end of the year.

Earlier this month AXA opened a branch in Cardiff, which will operate as a satellite branch of Bristol.

Recruitment drive

AXA is targeting 15% gross written premium growth in the region over the next three years and said its long-term strategy is to increase headcount in the area to 50 people.

The insurer has also appointed Lee Grainger as sales manager. Grainger previously worked at Covea Insurance and at AXA will be responsible for broker relationships across the South West and Wales, with a particular focus on growing AXA’s share of the local SME market and establishing a stronger presence in the mid-market sector.

Kevin Shanahan has joined as team manager from DAS Legal Expenses and will be responsible for operations in the region.

Bristol and Cardiff branch manager Ian Bromfield said: “I am delighted with the calibre of professional that we have attracted and the volume of enquiries we continue to receive from individuals wanting to join our expansion programme in the region is particularly encouraging.

“We are building upon a strong existing team and I am confident that by having this physical presence in the region, we can establish and develop deeper relationships with local brokers.”