#41
First Central
2013: N/A
Chief executive: Andy James
Brokerage: £20.3m

Management

New entry First Central enters the Top 50 in 41st place after reporting brokerage of £20.3m for the year to December 2013, an increase of 7.2%. Led by chief executive Andy James, the broker was established in 2008, and focuses on the private motor market.

Strategy

First Central has expanded from a team of 62 operating out of one office to a staff of almost 500 operating out of three offices across the UK. It launched its first television advertising campaign at the end of 2013 and now offers products for car and pet insurance.

 

#42
Lycetts
2013: 44
Chief executive: Angus Keate
Brokerage: £19.3m

Management

Chief executive Angus Keate has been at the helm since 2007. The company was taken over by long-term shareholder and insurer Ecclesiastical in spring 2014.

Strategy

With its two subsidiaries Farmers & Mercantile and Cliverton, Lycetts’s 16 offices specialise in rural risks and everything that goes with them, including high net worth, bloodstock and farms, and all forms of renewable energy. It plans to win business through word of mouth and a series of new marketing initiatives.

 

#43
One Call Insurance Services
2013: N/A
Managing director: Nik Springthorpe
Brokerage: £18.8m

Management

Managing director Nik Springthorpe has led One Call to an impressive 43% brokerage growth in the year to October 2013, making it the biggest grower behind acquisitive Arthur J Gallagher.

Springthorpe puts the growth down to working closer with insurers on profitability and smarter exclusive pricing as well as developing internal fraud detection.

Springthorpe joined the company in 2003 and has been its managing director since 2010. Founder John Radford remains involved part time as chief executive.

Strategy

Some 92% of One Call’s business comes from personal lines products, where it prides itself on “low-cost insurance with benefits included as standard”. It plans to grow its core motor business while placing more of a focus on home and commercial vehicle insurance and escalating brand awareness, after last year’s national TV advertising debut.

 

#44
AHJ Holdings
2013: 45
Chief executive: Gary Masters
Brokerage: £18.6m

Management

Marine insurance specialist Gary Masters has been at the helm of AHJ Holdings since 2011. He joined the company in 1982. Masters is supported by finance director Angela Treen, who joined the company as an accounting trainee in 1988.

Strategy

Lloyd’s insurance and reinsurance broker AHJ celebrated its 40th anniversary in October 2013. As with many of its Lloyd’s and London market peers, AHJ generates much of its business from overseas. It hired a new Latin American facultative property team in March 2013 and established a Norway branch at the beginning of 2014.

 

#45
Aston Scott
2013: 46
Chairman: Andrew Scott
Brokerage: £17.8m

Management

Privately owned Aston Scott entered the Top 50 UK rankings two years ago under the leadership of chairman Andrew Scott. Since then it has enjoyed a steady rise, and this year reported a growth in brokerage of 3.8% to £17.8m. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation also grew 3.8% in the year to June 2014 to £5.3m, a more modest improvement from the stellar 37% growth in 2013.

Strategy

Scott describes the commercial broker’s strategy as organic growth, targeted acquisitions and diversification. This year he was appointed to the steering committee of the Insurance Brokers Standards Council.

 

#46
Crispin Speers
2013: 50
Managing director: Crispin Speers
Brokerage: £16.4m

Management

Managing director Crispin Speers says his company, a new entrant last year to the Top 50 Brokers, has grown by more than 250% in the past five years. It has built its core
accident and health business along with niche areas of travel, employee benefit, agency, aviation, events and equine among others. The broker’s income grew by 14.8% to £16.4m in the year to March 2014.

Strategy

The acquisition of specialist subsidiaries has supported the broker’s growth, with recent activity including the establishment of its managing general agency (MGA). It wants to continue to focus on core niche areas of business and develop its subsidiary companies and sponsored brokers.

Speers said that the broker’s income had increased as a result of organic growth and several projects, including the MGA.

 

#47
Cobra
2013: 48
Chief executive: Steve Burrows
Brokerage: £16.4m

Management

Cobra is led by Steve Burrows who took the firm private through a £7.3m management buy-out in July 2012. Burrows’ own company, Alto, saw off a rival bid from Towergate to take over the firm.

Strategy

Cobra has many strands including networks, London market wholesale broking, regional retail broking and schemes. Burrows is keen to focus on niche products as competition for more
mainstream risks continues to intensify.

Cobra’s network division faces heavy competition from Gallagher’s Compass network, run by former Cobra Network managing director John Lincoln.

 

#48
Miles Smith
2013: 51
Chief executive: Paul Chainey
Brokerage: £16.2m

Management

Miles Smith just missed out on a Top 50 spot last year but has snuck back into the rankings thanks to its 13.8% growth in brokerage to £16.2m.

Strategy

The broking group focuses on niche markets and high-risk industries and this year achieved Chartered Insurance Broker status. Employee headcount rose by 11.7% to 172 over the past 12 months, after it expanded its Australasia and Ireland and professional risks teams.

 

#49
Staysure
2013: N/A
Chief executive: Ryan Howsam
Brokerage: £14.9m

Management

The specialist over-50s broker was founded in 2004 by chief executive Ryan Howsam and offers travel, motor, home, health and life insurance. In 2013 it was ranked in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 for the third year running and in 2011 was eighth in the list of firms with the fastest growing sales.

Strategy

Staysure continues to service the over-50s market, but has expanded its offerings to include cover for residents of the UK as well as British ex-patriots living abroad.

 


#50

Stackhouse Poland
2013: 49
Group chief executive: Tim Johnson
Brokerage: £14.7m

Management

The specialist high net worth private clients and business insurance broker dropped one place to number 50 in a year that saw its brokerage drop by 3.9% to £14.7m. But its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by 24.3% to £4.6m.

Strategy

The firm, a new entry last year, will focus on combining organic growth with acquisitions.