Acturis chief executive Theo Duchen explains how the Brokersure deal fills the gap left by InsurE-com and why his rivals are worried. Michael Faulkner reports

Theo Duchen, Acturis' co-chief executive, is on the offensive. Buoyed by the recent deals with The Broker Network and, he is keen to silence his critics. "We are way ahead of our plans. Some of our forthcoming deals are very good. The Broker Network deal is the biggest one in the market. No other will be bigger."We currently have a user base of 650 and over the next three or four months it is contracted to increase by 80%. Our target for the end of 2004 was 1000 users - but that will be exceeded. "At the moment we are 20% ahead of our business plan."He is swift to respond to those who used the small number of redundancies last year to imply deep-rooted problems at the software house. "Only two people were made redundant. It was unfortunate, but we changed our strategy and restructured the company. It made a lot of sense. It wasn't a case of losing lots of people."He is also quick to deny the rumours that he might be leaving Acturis to return to South Africa. "There is no truth in that. Why would I do that?" he says, sounding shocked that anyone could suggest such a move. "There is a fear factor about Acturis. We are new and we are doing well." Last week's deal with is an important one for Acturis, filling the gap that was left by the demise of the partnership with insurE-com for the provision of personal lines quotes. "InsurE-com felt we were competing too closely [they had a commercial lines facility through insur-E.tam], but I don't feel we came out of the partnership too badly," says Duchen. "Brokersure is an excellent platform. They have made changes to make it more efficient - with net rating and a common wording. The solution is right for a post-FSA commercial lines broker."Duchen says that the change-over will not cause any disruption to brokers. "It will be seamless, everything flowing through the Acturis system."What about the next big deal? Speculation is rife that both Sirius and Acturis are gunning for a contract with Marsh, and that Acturis is ahead. But the normally effusive Duchen is suddenly quiet when asked about the prospect of snaring the UK's third largest broker. "No comment," is all he will say with a definite tone of amusement. Turning to imarket, Duchen is optimistic about the project's future, but says there is still more work to be done. "It is an ambitious project. The critical thing will be to integrate each broker software system. The connectivity issues are being addressed and we can see how they are moving towards solving them. Our discussions with them have been good."

Plans for Brokersure is looking for a threefold increase in the premium going through its platform by the end of the year, says general manager Liz Latter."2003 was a good year for us. 2004 is about building on that. FSA regulation is an opportunity for us. "We currently have 250 brokers using the system and we aim to have 350 by end of 2004. We want to encourage brokers to use us as their sole system for personal lines quotes."Latter says that Brokersure is looking to target commercial lines brokers. "We want to offer them an easy way to transact their small personal lines business. Our target market is the smaller independent broker, but our business plan takes into account bigger brokers and networks."In the course of 2004, Brokersure will be introducing a new commercial vehicle and motorcycle module. In the following year, new products will be considered and Latter does not rule out small commercial policies.