Firm looks to capitalise on its worldwide network

Thistle chief executive James Gerry is aiming to make a global force of the JLT managing general agency (MGA).

Gerry said Thistle could expand using JLT’s worldwide network of offices and muscle into the commercial SME affinity market.

“We do have ambitions for offices around the world,” he said. “Why would you not want to start a Thistle office in Sydney?”

In the UK, the Wolverhampton-based Ingham Underwriting would be rebranded. JLT snapped up the £19m agency in June.

The door was still open to further MGA acquisitions to complement Thistle, he said, but a number of underwriting agencies had not lived up to expectations when they were put under the microscope.

He explained: “It is very difficult to understand the underwriting performance of a lot of these businesses because, typically, they do not handle claims and do not have a grip on their performance.

“I will look for individuals or teams. I am talking about underwriters who have a good following in the broker community, who might like to be part of growing Thistle.”

Gerry stressed that Thistle was on a profit-to-commission contract with capacity provider Brit, and would be expected to deliver high-quality underwriting performance.

He said Thistle, which is targeting £100m GWP by 2011, could have used a range of capacity providers, but the Brit deal involved less red tape and the licensed paper to get going.