Insurance Times and sponsors Groupama and Liberty brought together the broker elite to determine the best brokers in the North West

The Living Room in Manchester is usually a meeting place for Premiership footballers. Last month, a quite different team of professionals met up: the cream of the North West’s independent broker community.

Some of the region’s largest insurance firms convened in a quiet, dimly-lit room to get to grips with the burning issues of the day. These included the usual suspects: the soft market, the internet revolution, commission disclosure, and the talent shortage – or, as became clear, the challenge of retaining talented staff.

The discussion began with an overview of the Manchester market. Based on the range and frankness of the responses (and the fact that it is the largest outside London) it was immediately obvious that a controversial debate was on the cards.

The consensus was that, despite intense competition, there was still ample room for newcomers and new markets.

Top of the bill, unsurprisingly, was consolidation and broker independence. And with two of the highest profile buyers and sellers – Groupama and Bollington – at the table, all remarks carried tremendous weight.

Mike Latham, chief executive of Manson, echoed long-standing concerns. He said: “If insurers continue to buy out brokers wholly, the distribution network will change completely. Brokers will be selling products on behalf of insurers. Where does the client go for independent advice?”

With their markets stretching beyond their traditional confines it appears that brokers in the North West consider increasingly consider themselves national entities.

The awards themselves threw up few surprises. The prize for the Largest Independent North West Broker was won by F Wilson. The award was accepted by Mark Holdsworth and Jason Pilkington.

Meanwhile CBG Insurance Brokers (in which Allianz owns a 5.6% stake), having recently secured a war chest of £3m, won the accolade of Fastest Growing Broker.

Last but not least was Schofields, the winner of the Most Efficient Independent North West Broker award. This was very much a family affair with director Keith Schofield accepting the accolade in the company of his two sons, Jonathan and Philip, both of whom have played key roles in growing the business.

Top 20 ranked by turnover

1) F Wilson (Insurance Brokers)
2) Private Medicine Intermediaries
3) Bridge Insurance Brokers
4) CBG Insurance Brokers
5) Choicequote Insurance Services
6) Arthur Doodson (Brokers)
7) Manson Insurance Brokers
8) Powell Insurance Brokers
9) David Roberts & Partners (Insurance Brokers)
10) Caunce O'Hara & Co
11) RBIG Corporate Risk Services
12) Manson Warner Healthcare
13) Aldium Independent Insurance Services
14) Marionette Facilities (t/a BP Insurance Brokers)
15) Medical Money Management (General Insurance Brokers)
16) Butterworth Spengler Commercial
17) McParland Finn
18) Homepro
19) Southport Insurance Brokers
20) Schofields