The Insurance Times Top 20 Regional Broker Awards bandwagon rolled into the North East last week

Networking in Newcastle

A host of North East insurance industry players flocked to Newcastle to see the region's Top 20 Broker awards being presented last week.

The awards were sponsored by claims management experts, Wisecall.

Grant Thornton's North East broker survey revealed that quality customer service was the key to client retention in the brave new world of FSA regulation.

Survey respondents were keen to draw a distinction between the more price-driven personal lines sector and commercial lines customers, who they said were generally more appreciative of the value that brokers can add.

Anthony Harris, MMA Insurance business development executive, commented: "I went to the recent Leeds event and decided I had to be at this one too. The way this event works is the best networking opportunity I have seen and the number of business leads I pick up is excellent."

Lycetts was named the Largest Independent Broker in the North East. The company's director, Sheelagh Steele, said she was proud the company had been recognised in the region.

Sweeney Insurance Associates secured the Fastest Growing Independent Broker award. John Sweeney said the award was "fantastic" and a genuine surprise. He said the Middlesbrough-based company had developed rapidly over the past three years after moving into the hard-to-place liability market, such as roofing and scaffolding.

Sweeney added that the broker started preparing early for FSA regulation and was ahead of the game when the regulator was appointed. Its systems were ready with a year to go, unlike many competitors which had struggled to survive as they weren't prepared. Sweeney said the awards event was a great chance to catch up with old friends from the industry.

Ross Lloyd secured the Most Efficient Independent Broker award.

Director of the Carlisle-based company, Joe McCarthy, quipped that Carlisle was now, evidently, in the North East.

But he emphasised that Ross Lloyd dealt with a lot of business in the region and was registered in Newcastle.

McCarthy attributed the award to a combination of teamwork, conscientious staff and, particularly, the staff members' dedication to providing personal services.

The winners ...
Largest Independent North East Broker
(Sponsored by Grant Thornton)
Winner 2005/2006

Fastest Growing Independent North East Broker
(Sponsored by Wisecall)
Winner 2005/2006
Sweeney Insurance Associates

Most Efficient Independent North East Broker
(Sponsored by Wisecall)
Winner 2005/2006
Ross Lloyd

Top 20 North East brokers by turnover

1 Lycetts 7,227m

2 Bishop Skinner Insurance Brokers 2,252m

3 Todd and Cue 2,188m

4 Dixon and Watt 1,967m

5 Arnott Commercial Insurance Services 1,322m

6 Ross Lloyd 1,028m

7 Henry F Dodds 809m

8 Robertson-McIsaac Insurance Brokers 671m

9 Northern Counties Guarantee Corporation 654m

10 Elliot Slowther Insurance Services 576m

11 HR Wilson & Partners 466m

12 Bernard Saxon General Insurance Services 458m

13 B Portwood & Company 390m

14 Borderway Insurance Brokers 385m

15 WA Smith Insurance Brokers 344m

16 Westland Insurance Services 197m

17 Carron Insurance Brokers 188m

18 Pumawell 176m

19 Sweeney Insurance Associates 171m

20 Medical Insurance Bureau 162m

Q Has the firm experienced any benefits as a result of the new regulatory regime?

  • Management controls have improved. But there have not been any benefits as yet. Clients do not understand (the new regime) and are not interested. If the FSA gets tougher there may be some interesting casualties
  • Increased costs, more time spent on unproductive tasks, red tape. I am not aware of any benefits as a result of the new regulations at all

  • More professional, standardised service and uniformity. Better - more efficient - reconciliation systems. Better protection of our clients, who are often vulnerable
  • No. There is a - "shotgun approach" to regulation
  • Staff better understand importance of recording their activities
  • Q Has the firm experienced any adverse effects as a result of the new regulatory regime?

  • Time-consuming paperwork
  • More administrative costs
  • We are a well-established small company with great staff and must get on with things
  • Resource constraints due to training and implementation of FSA procedures
  • Increased supervisory burden
  • Loss of volunteer insurance arrangers who dislike increased formality of role within a regulated environment
  • Increased costs but have passed most on to clients
  • Increased time and cost of working