Towergate network uses technology advice to lure new members.

Countrywide will become the latest network to try to attract start-up brokers, with a new package for entrepreneurs to be launched early next year.

The Towergate-owned network is looking to entice start-ups by offering support on regulation and on technology from its sister business Open GI.

Nick Haycock, managing director at Countrywide, said: “We’re developing a start-up pack for brokers that will help them to develop insurer relationships, all the necessary agency agreements and the essential legal requirements. The pack will also work in conjunction with Open GI, which will provide software solutions to start-up businesses.”

Countrywide has 698 members.

Meanwhile, Andy Homer, chief executive of Towergate, has warned that brokers face tough times because of the credit crunch.

Speaking at the annual Open User Group Members Day & AGM, Homer predicted that brokers would lose clients.

Brokers will suffer as a result of higher utility bills, pressure on staffing costs and clients demanding discounts, he said.

“Your customers will expect you to discount, so you’ll get alternative quotes, you’ll work your socks off, while the premium goes down. It’s an awful spiral of working your socks off for less return,” he said.

Homer added that independent brokers with independent SME customers would get through this recession. “I know you’re going to have tough times and some of your clients will go out of business, but some of your clients have been here before. They will survive and so will you,” he said.

The Towergate boss was less optimistic about brokers looking to sell their business during the crisis. “You can’t make the sort of returns on capital that you could a few years ago,” he said. “As far as Towergate is concerned, we’ve been very picky by way of acquisition.”

Last week, Insurance Times reported that Towergate had received approaches from private equity investors looking to buy Open GI, which it purchased for £276m last September. The approaches have been referred to consultant Lexicon.