The days of deals done on the golf course are over

Be careful what you wish for. General insurance brokers have long complained that the public fails to see them as professionals – hence the ease with which direct writers and aggregators have encroached on their turf, and the awkwardness surrounding remuneration models.

But the days of the village broker and a deal done with a handshake on the golf course are gone. Since the FSA began to regulate the sector, it has quite rightly improved standards of training and trading.

Slowly, this is having an impact on public perceptions. With a bit of luck, this will continue, and personal and commercial customers will realise the value a broker can add.

But there’s a flip side. If brokers are going to set themselves up on a par with professions such as law, they have to be prepared to take the same heat as lawyers. Personal and commercial clients will be quick to sue if they think they have paid for services they have not received. As our figures show on p14, QBE alone has seen PI claims against brokers rocket by 50% over the past two years.

There’s no point moaning about it. The best thing brokers can do is, just like their lawyers, make sure their processes are airtight, the paper trail is clear, and the client is fully aware of what they are paying for and when. It’s all a long way from the golf course.

Keeping it in the family

On to better news. This week, we kick off a new monthly series showcasing some of the UK’s best family brokers. As our interview with Graham and Stephen Lark demonstrates, changing ownership structures and the challenges of growing businesses do not necessarily spell the end of the family-run broker, where service to clients is put before dividends to shareholders.

As the UK broker sector evolves, there will be many more models emerging, but whether a broker remains independent, sells up to a French insurer or throws its lot in with a rival across the street, families will remain at the heart of many of these businesses. If you would like us to feature yours, email me: