MGA made loss of £246,000 but better performance will follow, promises JLT chief

JLT chief executive Dominic Burke says the broker’s managing general agency, Thistle, is on track despite a half-year loss of £246,000.

The loss comes shortly after Thistle former chief executive James Gerry’s role was terminated in May, with responsibility taken over by chairman Adrian Gerling. A JLT review had found “duplication” in Gerry’s role.

But Burke insisted the end of the year was a better time to assess Thistle’s performance, as underwriting profits were recognised then rather than at the half-year stage. Thistle also renews larger affinity business after the accounting half-year results period.

Thistle made a 2010 trading profit of £4.8m after making an £800,000 loss at the half-year mark.

Underwriting capacity is currently supported by Brit, QBE and Catlin. “They are very supportive; they like the progress we are making, like the underwriting profits we are making, and the business is on track,” Burke said. Thistle is expected to turn a profit in the first half of next year.

Thistle was launched in January 2008 to attack the SME market as a high-volume, low-premium business. Since its launch, commercial rates have remained soft, putting pressure on Thistle. Burke admitted: “In that particular business, a rating increase would serve a benefit.”

As a group, JLT continued to perform strongly, having strengthened the business with staff hires from rival Aon. Burke said a focus on clients’ needs had helped maintain organic growth. JLT made a profit before tax of £76.4m in the first half of 2011, up 9% on the £70m it made in the same period last year.