Order of top three brokers is overturned for first time since 2008 by growing JLT

Jardine Lloyd Thompson has climbed to second place in the Insurance Times Top 50 Broker list, pushing Marsh and Willis to third and fourth place and overturning the order of the top three for the first time since 2008.

The listed broker achieved growth of 17% despite the tough economic environment – described by IMAS, which provides the data for the annual survey, as a “great achievement”.

Marsh’s brokerage came in at £603m, down 19.5% year on year, and Willis’s £582m, up 8%.

Asked whether his major competitors had taken their eyes off the ball, JLT chief executive Dominic Burke said: “Certainly some of our competitors, it might be said, haven’t got the same level of engagement with their people that we have, and we have had great success attracting people from each of our larger competitors, perhaps one more than the other two. It is not for me to say why that is, but certainly we find ourselves with a story and a culture and an ethos that is increasingly attractive for staff.”

Asked whether he had ambitions to overtake Aon as the UK’s number one broker, Burke replied: “I think those who know me would know the answer to that.”

Burke ruled out a transformational acquisition, but said JLT was in the market for opportunistic M&A. He said: “I don’t see how it would be in the interest of our stakeholders to go out and spend a large cheque on one of the consolidators, for example. I don’t think those businesses, as good or as bad as they may be, are going to add much to what we do and how we do it.

“We have made acquisitions, but by definition they’re small. They’ve been smart and they’ve been accretive and blended well with our existing businesses. We will very much continue to follow that strategy.”

Burke added that further growth would come particularly in JLT’s specialty and reinsurance businesses, as well as its underwriting agency Thistle.

Elsewhere in the Top 50, IMAS singled out Brightside and Oamps for praise. Brightside has seen its turnover grow 48% to £66m through a mixture of organic growth and acquisition, while Oamps returned to the rankings at number 50 with a 25% growth in turnover to £17m.

Other new entrants include Allen & Allen at number 40, and Lonmar at 42. CJ Coleman and Bollington have both dropped out of the list this year.

The Insurance Times Top 50 Brokers 2011 is distributed with this week’s issue.

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