In the continuing search for the UK's top brokers, Insurance Times together with the Grant Thornton research team selected the best in the Midlands at a gala event in Birmingham

Brokers in the Midlands are not shy when it comes to expressing their views on the FSA's regulatory burden.

Questionnaires returned to the Grant Thornton team gave some frank and, in certain cases, vociferous, responses to questions on how regulation was affecting business. Though customers are not shopping around, the view is that too much paperwork puts clients off.

The tricky area is the FSA's 'treating customers fairly' (TCF) initiative, universally regarded as a set of confusing principles which the industry finds patronising.

One of the most encouraging aspects at the third Top 20 Regional Awards, held last week at Prana in Birmingham, was that a personal lines broker was named the fastest growing independent broker.

Much has been said and written on the supposed demise of the personal lines broker against the onslaught of the internet and direct writers.

MCE insurance Brokers, which is celebrating its 30th year in business, has shown steady growth over the past two to three years based on good technology and service to both clients and insurer partners. It can be said that it treats its customers fairly.

The same can be said of Country Mutual Insurance Brokers (CMIB), which was named as the largest independent broker in the Midlands.

In November 2003, CMIB bought out The Beckett Group and has slowly moved up the Insurance Times Top 50 UK broker table. This year it was ranked 27th with a brokerage of £23.8m.

Grant Thornton studied the latest financial results for each company and sent out over 400 questionnaires.

Where this information was not forthcoming, Grant Thornton assessed publicly available information, such as Companies House data.

Grant Thornton also assessed the firms' attitudes to FSA regulation and other issues (see box overleaf).

The information was used to assess:

  • The largest broking firm in the region by turnover in the past 12 months
  • The fastest growing broking firm in the region in the last financial year
  • The most efficient broking firm in the region in the last financial year
  • The data used to determine the rankings within the categories have been based on the most up-to-date information provided by the firms.'

    Winners of the awards
    Largest broking firm by turnover (sponsored by Ace)
    Country Mutual Insurance Brokers

    Fastest growing broking firm (sponsored by Close Premium Finance)
    MCE insurance Brokers

    Most efficient broking firm (sponsored by Grant Thornton)
    JCB Insurance Services