Can the latest player in the network arena make an instant impression?

Another week, another new network. Well, not quite, but the network space has yet again seen a new development to add to the already vast choice of options for independent brokers.

Our Network, launched by Broker Direct, joins the already crowded network arena as the new kid on the block. It promises free membership for members of the IIB, which claims to have up to 1000 brokers under its umbrella.

Broker Direct and the IIB go back a long way. The late Andrew Paddick, formerly director general of the IIB, was once the largest shareholder in Broker Direct and one of the principal architects of the new network.

It describes itself as a "mutual" organisation that is mostly owned by brokers, which in turn act as agents. Brokers own 78% of the shareholding, and the management and staff own the rest.

The company has always boasted network type values, as it designs and distributes a number of products to brokers. But after acquiring compliance specialist Insurance Compliance Services Ltd (ICS) and HR Experts Ltd (HRE) it now has the complete package.

The IIB’s vast membership base could in turn propel the new network up to the same level as established players such The Broker Network and Cobra. With plans for 12 to 15 insurers in its panel, any broker looking for a seat at the insurers table could well be tempted.

IIB chief executive Barbara Bradshaw said the new network was a boost for the IIB and its members. “We are very pleased that Broker Direct has chosen to offer the network to IIB members,” she said. “It is exciting times for brokers.”

She agreed that it could also raise the profile of the IIB to prospective members. “It could bring us new members and that would be great from our perspective,” she said.

This new proposition seems to have made a timely entrance, but time will tell whether it can make an impact.