London broker, FirstCity, has branched out into the regions with the opening of a new division in Manchester.

The company's expansion into the north-west of England is expected to spark off further regional drives, with Bristol and Edinburgh being targeted as potential areas for growth.

The UK push will be led by former Willis Group partner Peter Stevenson, who criticised leading competitors for becoming "very process driven on sale" in the provincial market.

He said: "[Leading business professionals] want high service levels, senior advice and a quality product. Clients have become despondent with service levels, bureaucracy and lack of innovation in the sector. Clients need access to London and global markets supplemented by the excellent personnel in the Manchester insurers."

The division will provide professional indemnity, directors' & officers' liability cover, political risks insurance and all aspects of mergers and acquisition activity cover, including warranty and indemnity.

"Ours will be a very specific service offering to the business community and the professional sector," Stevenson added. "In 18 months I want FirstCity to be the preferred choice for professional risks."