Smart & Cook's consulting division has become the subject of a management buy-out, Insurance Times has learned.

It is understood that a consortium of senior managers lead by Shaun Hicks are currently searching the market for funding for the MBO.

One source said: "They expect the MBO to be completed by the end of the month, but as of yet haven't completed any funding deals. It won't be 3i [the venture capitalists backing Smart & Cook], they won't be comfortable with the exposure."

Hicks has been joined by Nigel Harrison, Graham McIntyre, Chris Brady, Richard Butcher and Keith Florence in the takeover, sources said.

Smart & Cook Consulting provides a range of risk management services including strategic risk appraisals and risk management health checks.

In a statement, Smart & Cook confirmed the move. It said: "Smart & Cook Group has been concerned about the potential lack of clarity in its customer proposition in light of the different trading styles between the general broking companies of Smart & Cook Ltd and Smart & Cook Consulting Ltd."