Competition heats up in the network arena with Willis launching its second network

The anticipated rise of the markets broker networks has continued with Willis the latest to announce enhancements to its network offering.

The broking giant has launched a new network, the Willis N2, to run in tandem with the Willis Commercial Network.

The N2 network will target small regional brokers of £1m to £2.5m premium, compared to the brokers that it targets for the Willis Commercial Network, which range from £6m to £7m.

The strategy employed by Willis could be classed as unique for having two separate networks for small and large brokers. It followed a statement of intent from Willis UK chief executive Brendan McManus last December, when he revealed that the broker was set for an aggressive drive to grow its network presence in the UK.

Earlier this year, the Cobra Network and UKGI announced plans to offer help to start-up brokers, following the long line of networks that already had the service in their armoury.

Mark Radburn, managing director, Willis Commercial Network says the new network will also appeal to start-ups. “We expect start up brokers coming in to WN2,” he said. “It will help start-up businesses.”

It joins the Purple Partnership as the newest addition to the network scene and will add further spice to the already competitive market.

Willis is keen for its members in both networks to work together, particularly those that trade in the same regions. Radburn said the members of the Willis Commercial Network are keen for this to happen. “We have had a very enthusiastic reaction from the existing commercial network members,” he says.

An area that could prove to be positive is the potential for smaller brokers to sell their businesses or merge with larger members, which could result in some strong regional presence for Willis.

The network arena is expanding and with 30 small regional broker members expected on board by the end of the year, this latest move by Willis could serve as a wake up call to others.