As convenants end staff could again be tempted to set up on their own, says Scottish broker

A new generation of start-up brokers is emerging from consolidators, says the boss of a broker acquired by Towergate.

Ken Davie, the former managing director of the Scottish JW Group, is the latest broker to unveil details of a new start-up business. He quit the consolidator in February with four directors, and since has set up Insureness Ltd with Ken Whittle and Colin Grant. Their move comes two years after Towergate acquired JW Group.

Insureness, based outside Edinburgh, has become a member of the Willis Commercial Network, which helped Davie to establish his new company.

Davie, who was also appointed head of Towergate’s Scotland operation before being replaced last year, said the performance demands made upon the JW Group were key in his decision to leave Towergate.

“Towergate were looking to improve return on investment and it gave us an opportunity to start up in business again and to get back to how we were before.”

He said that as restrictive covenants came to an end, more staff could be tempted to start up on their own. “I think that is possibly something that will filter through … the pressure will be on to achieve their return.”

JW Group was acquired by Towergate in April 2007, its first major acquisition in Scotland. The company controlled £19m in gross written premiums and added six offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Berwick, Jedburgh and Galashiels, to Towergate’s existing offices in Paisley and East Kilbride.

Earlier this month, John McLaren-Stewart, who sold Alliance Corporate Risk Management to Towergate in 2007, unveiled his new start-up, BrightStar Risk Solutions, just months after quitting Towergate’s team.

Bernard Farrell, regional managing director of Willis Networks, said five new start-ups had joined the network this year and he was in talks with another seven. Another start-up, Bolton-based 3 Sixty Insure, set up by former Alec Finch associate director Sam Cowen, is a Willis N2 member.