Insurance Times together with its research partner Grant Thornton, and sponsors Royal & SunAlliance and Close Premium Finance, analysed the performance of brokers in the North West to determine the Top 20

FSA in brokers' cross-hairs

Ask brokers in the North West about FSA regulation and time after time the issue of policy documentation is brought up.

"We are furious with the paper waste we are obliged to issue," says one broker angrily. Another adds: "Most clients are overwhelmed by the amount of documentation now provided."

Other comments were not printable.

It is clear thay have strong views when it comes to the FSA-created paper mountain - and indeed other FSA-related issues.

Some berate insurers for not knowing enough about the FSA's rules, while others point their cross-hairs at the FSA itself, complaining of "a lack of detailed responses to technical issues".

Another wit notes: "The FSA has created a new language - but no one has yet produced a dictionary to understand it".

Grant Thornton's survey of brokers in the area found that the majority thought FSA regulation has failed to improve clients' understanding of the products they are buying.

Most brokers also said that their companies had not experienced any benefits from FSA regulation.

In fact, a majority claimed to have suffered adverse effects as a result of the new regulatory regime.

But despite the additional burden of regulation, brokers in the North West region appear to be thriving.

At a gala event at the Living Room in Manchester last week, brokers were told the results of our investigations.

It came as no surprise that Swinton Group dominated the league table, but CBG Insurance Brokers, which has been in existence less than five years, was arguably the surprise winner of the night, securing the award for most efficient broker.

PremierLine Direct won the award for fastest growing broker with a 36% increase in turnover.

To compile the Top 20 broker information, Grant Thornton studied the latest financial results for each company and sent out over 700 questionnaires.

Where this information was not forthcoming, Grant Thornton assessed publicly available information, such as Companies House data.

In addition to identifying the foremost brokers, the survey also sought firms' views on the impact of the FSA's regulatory regime.

The Top 20 award winners 2005
Largest Independent North West Broker over the last financial year (Sponsored by Royal & SunAlliance) Swinton Group

Fastest Growing Independent North West Brokerover the last financial year (Sponsored by Close Premium Finance) PremierLine Direct

Most Efficient Independent North West Broker over the last financial year (Sponsored by Grant Thornton) CBG Insurance Brokers