Insurance Times, together with sponsors Endurance Insurance and Close Premium Finance, brought together the broking elite to determine the best brokers in the South East, based on analysis by Grant Thornton

Survey reveals less hostility to regulation across the South East

Brokers from the South East convened in the flourishing town of Croydon last Thursday week for our Regional Top 20 Broker event.

The south London suburb's finest venue, Tiger Tiger, was equal to the task, with its revolving glitterballs providing a suitably starry ambience.

A wide catchment area, from Hertfordshire to Hampshire and Buckinghamshire to Bedfordshire, resulted in a healthy turnout.

As usual, the broker research was conducted by Grant Thornton, whose director Andy Mills outlined the region's response to FSA regulation.

Compared to the more negative responses of other regions to FSA regulation, brokers in the South East were reasonably positive about regulatory initiatives, such as treating customers fairly (TCF) and contract certainty. But many respondents mentioned the increased costs as burdensome.

Hastings Direct won the largest broker in the region award.

The broker's business development director, Peter Barette, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have won this award. It shows how hard the whole team has worked to put us in such a prestigious position.

"This award comes at a special time for Hastings Insurance Services as we approach our 10th birthday in January.

"We started with just a vision, and now we have a family of 800 staff at Bexhill, looking after 800,000 policyholders.

"Many thanks for this award go to Insurance Times for staging this excellent event, our insurers, who have given us tremendous support over the years, everyone who works for Hastings Insurance Services and last but not least, our customers."

Stuart Alexander was the Fastest Growing South East Broker. Andy Poole, the broker's special projects manager, collected the award.

Poole said: "It has been a superb year so far for us with the successful acquisition of Bishop Skinner & Co resulting in the development of the Bishop Skinner marine division of Stuart Alexander.

"We have made headway in many areas, notably in respect of e-marketing as an effective approach to winning new business coupled with plans to develop an e-commerce offering during the remainder of 2006."

Keelan Westall sales manager Paul Ellis was surprised but delighted at the company's fourth-place finish. He said: "It's a great result, particularly considering that we specialise in commercial property."

Argyll Insurance Group won the Most Efficient Broker award. Kevin Young, the broker's chairman, said: "If I were to select the type of award that I would most like to see Argyll win, it would most definitely be one related to efficiency.

"In today's highly competitive market, good business planning together with service delivery are the two main ingredients to continuing success. I am proud of every member of my staff. It is a team effort, and a team prize."

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