A selection of some of the brokers to watch in the coming months.
Open a copy of Insurance Times and almost without fail a headline will read: ‘Towergate buys regional broker’ or ‘New acquisition for Venture Preference’.
The major brokers, as would be expected, feature prominently in the news. They are the major players in the broking sector after all. But, beyond the likes of Towergate, Oval, Venture Preference and Jelf, there are a host of dynamic broking businesses whose profile is not so high.
They are the smaller brokers with their eyes set firmly on breaking into the big league or the larger brokers that are quietly getting on with their business.
Insurance Times has compiled a selection of some of the brokers to watch in the coming months.
Some may surprise, some may be less well known, while others may have recently been thrust into the limelight.
But all these companies are likely to be making waves in the coming months, as they look to fight their way to the top of the pack.
One thing’s for sure: 2008 will not be a quiet year.
Although the group currently has just 22 brokers under its umbrella, it controls a GWP of almost £400m after an incredible rise that saw it bring in a number of brokers around the UK. It is currently scouting the North West for brokers to join the alliance, and is also making in-roads in the South East and London regions. The group could become one of the largest players in the UK, and even a possible target for consolidators because of its huge access to distribution.
Independent Manchester broker, Bridge last month made its first acquisition in more than 12 years, snapping up fellow North West broker Chartwell. The deal took its controlled premium to over £40m. Further acquisitions could be on the cards as it looks to grow in the North West.
The Manchester broker has been on an acquisition frenzy of late. The group’s purchase of Barclay Brown became its 15th acquisition in the North West as the group looks to consolidate its position in the Manchester market.
Its acquisition of London-based Marcus Hearn is thought to be the first of a number of regional acquisitions for CBG as it looks to expand its geographical footprint.
AIM-listed Cobra has built up a strong broker network over the past couple of years and it is now set to target areas around the UK where it has not had much success, such as Scotland. Its acquisition of Manchester-based UK&I last year was the first in its regional ‘hub and spoke’ strategy.
The Lloyd’s broker was touted as a possible target for THB following the initial collapse of the THB/PWS merger which was eventually concluded this week, but it rubbished these claims immediately. First City held unsuccessful talks with Jardine Lloyd Thompson last year, and remains open to a takeover.
Somerset broker Higos has its sights on becoming the largest broker in the South West. It made a series of acquisitions last year as it looks to grow to £100m in gross written premiums by 2012.
The ambitious Welsh broker is looking to increase its business volumes threefold to £100m by 2010. The independent broker has seen its premium income rise at an exceptional rate in recent years, and is now ready for a staggering organic growth push to rival that of the market’s biggest consolidators.
In collaboration with Jelf, the Purple Partnership has a strong base in the South West from which it is building its network. After its launch at the beginning of January, which saw 10 brokers join and a further 10 soon to be confirmed, the network is already on course to hit its year one targets within its first month of operation.
The Guildford-based broker is aiming to become the largest broker in the South East. It has grown rapidly since it underwent a management buy-out in 2001 and currently controls annual premiums of approximately £30m. It has its eyes on acquisitions and last month set up a joint venture company to boost its high net worth business.
The broking group finally acquired Lloyd’s broker PWS last week and remains on the hunt for further acquisitions in the London market, as it looks to bring its revenues in line with its cost base. Its latest interims were, by its own admission disappointing, as it felt the pain of soft rates and the weak dollar.
Tyser & Co
Another small Lloyd’s broker touted as a THB target, Tysers has since strongly denied the rumours. Senior management only recently completed a management buyout and said such a move was essential in securing an independent future for the company. This year is likely to be an interesting one for the company.
The rapidly expanding Westinsure alliance is set for increased growth. After adding 53 new members last year to increase GWP to £225m, it has now admitted that it is considering strategic opportunities in order to keep up with the changing pace of the broker market. This could include following in the steps of the Broker Network as the next network to be acquired.
The insurers' choice
Janice Deakin, corporate sales director at Norwich Union (NU), and George Berrie, director of sales for NU General Insurance, select five up-and-coming brokers to watch:
Central Insurance Services
The Aberdeen-based broker last month completed a management buyout (MBO)in a bid to secure its long-term independence. The MBO saw Iain Henry promoted to managing director. The company also moved to a new Ã‚Â£3m headquarters on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
NU says: 'New blood with keen aspirations'
Henderson Insurance Brokers, Leeds
Leeds-based Hendersons has been trading for over 20 years, and now controls annual premiums of around Â£150m. It has expanded across the north of England, with nine offices nationwide. Michael Wright is the managing director.
NU says: 'Well structured business, highly professional and energetic'
The Insurance Partnership
Founded in 1993 with the aim of delivering a high quality broker service to the Hull region, The Insurance Partnership has grown quickly, catching the eye of the major insurers. Rob Worrell is the managing director.
NU says: 'Large 'small' broker aiming to be a small corporate broker. One to watch for sure'
LFC Insurance Group
Essex based LFC Insurance Group was established in 1988 by managing director, Jeremy Clayton. It made three acquisitions last year: the Pinhey Partnership, the JB Partnership and Mainstay (UK).
NU says: 'Managing director Jerry Clayton is very entrepreneurial and has set his sights on being the top broker in East Anglia'
Saffron Insurance Services
With headquarters in Saffron Walden, Saffron Insurance Services has become one of the eastern regionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest independent brokers through a combination of organic growth
and acquisition. David Beswick is the
NU says: 'Young team on a mission, lots of small acquisitions and working to get into the big league'Â