Insurance Times together with its research partner, Grant Thornton, and sponsors, Keycare and Bankstone, analysed the performance of brokers in Yorkshire to determine the region's best

Boom times...despite the FSA
In God's own county Yorkshire brokers expressed their hostility towards FSA regulation at the fifth Insurance Times regional broker awards in Leeds last week.

Straight talking David Ross, managing director of Keycare, acknowledged that there was a need for an efficient regulator, but from a broker perspective he said it hindered business.

"The FSA is one of the greatest business prevention teams ever assembled," he says.

Echoing this point, Grant Thornton's Yorkshire broker survey - released in conjunction with the awards - showed some clients didn't even know who the FSA was.

The survey also revealed brokers' complaints about the rising paper mountain they have to deal with.

Survey results showed the FSA compliance process was stifling the work of the broker because it resulted in a lengthier process to obtain quotes.

Typical of the Yorkshire broker view of FSA regulation was one comment that there were no "tangible benefits" but only "increased costs".

Although the survey - which was sent out to 700 brokers - did reveal that the FSA had focused brokers' minds on compliance and TCF and, in some cases, beneficially contributed to their business procedure.

There can be no doubt that the Yorkshire regional business broking environment is booming - and the 150-plus people who attended the awards ceremony certainly agreed with this.

And each of the winners were a testament to the strength of the region's broking industry.

Yorkshire's Largest Independent Broker, Oval, has achieved its status through a mixture of shrewd acquisitions and hard work in seeking out new opportunities.

Private Health Partnership has become the Fastest Growing Yorkshire Broker by plugging away at the growing niche area of PMI.

And TL Dallas has become the Most Efficient Yorkshire Broker because of its loyal customer base and the advantages of maintaining its employees.

And the winners are...
Largest Independent Yorkshire Broker
(Sponsored by Keycare)
Winner, 2005/2006
The Oval Group

Fastest Growing Independent Yorkshire Broker
(Sponsored by Bankstone)
Winner, 2005/2006
Private Health Partnership

Most Efficient Independent Yorkshire Broker
(Sponsored by Grant Thornton)
Winner, 2005/2006
TL Dallas Group

Top 20 Yorkshire brokers by turnover

Company name
Ranking by latest year turnover*
1 Oval Group

2 Smart & Cook Group

3 TL Dallas Group

4 Henderson Insurance Brokers

5 Proactive Risk Group

6 The Insurance Partnership Services

7 Bartlett & Company

8 W Denis (Insurance Brokers)

9 Beaumonts Insurance Brokers

10 The Private Health Partnership

11 Rockford Insurance Brokers

12 Peter Hoare & Company (Insurance Brokers)

13 Sydney Packett & Sons

14 Supercover

15 Kennett Insurance Brokers

16 Caravan Guard

17 JM Glendinning (Insurance Brokers)

18 ECS Insurance Brokers

19 RIB Group

20 Wilkinson Rodgers

Q Did the firm find the process of applying for FSA authorisation straightforward?
It was time consuming but not too confusing. We had compliance advisers to assist us

Ok and straightforward

Yes, but cumbersome. The requirements for firms with a turnover of just over £1m are much more onerous than those on small firms

Massive paperwork increase

Too onerous application forms

We have simple and transparent processes

No serious problems to report however we just exceeded £1m and had to produce a very in-depth business plan

No real issues. It was relatively straightforward

Understanding detailed process but simple to action

We received good advice to ease our path. Without this it would have been a nightmare

Applying online did not cause us too many problems

QDoes the firm believe FSA regulation of general insurance has improved clients' understanding of the products they are buying?

As an underwriting agency we do not have direct clients so we would not comment on this

It will take time to reap the benefits

To date, we do not have enough information relating to claims, complaints etc to demonstrate one way or the other

Most clients are finding the service the same as before regulation, but the paperwork has increased substantially

Many find extra paperwork overwhelming and so are less likely to read it than before

It has concentrated brokers' minds on compliance and TCF

Many underwriters and brokers still tend to confuse and obfuscate, using technicaljargon instead of keeping it simple

By providing more information in brochures and in our scripts. Also the training on internal staff

The aim to improve understanding is valuable, but the means are currently very cumbersome.

Helped bring clarity / transparency and professionalism to clients whilst creating perfect uniformity in systems and document production.

We are purely commercial brokers, our clients are almost disinterested in the amount of additional paperwork etc.

Too much paper, lack of clarity.

Due to improved clarity of documentation - key facts demands and needs etc.

Clients do not know who the FSA are and complain regarding the volume of paperwork issued to them.

Most people think it stands for Food Standards Agency.

QFollowing the introduction of FSA regulation of the general insurance industry, does the firm believe customers are shopping around more than they have previously?

Brokers are shopping around more to cover themselves

Same as previous years

No evidence to suggest this

Lengthier process to obtain quotes due to FSA compliance so less likely to consult multiple sources

Any products sold face-to-face by intermediaries. Our customers need to understand the process to shop around

Credit insurance market remains fairly small. Although there is more choice

The market sector we deal with always shops around, as prices have been very high for a number of years

We have not seen this happen in terms of the new business conversion levels and in renewal retention

Yes and no, in specialist lines such as ours there are no other places to shop but definitely in general lines yes.

Not to the best of our knowledge.

Why should they? regulation has not altered competition.

Earlier decisions of renewal proposals has worked client controls.