Read on for the rest of our top brokers, from 21 through to 50
Managing director: Ian Passmore
The Zurich-owned student insurance specialist turned in improved profits earlier this year. The better results reflected the absence of the one-off costs associated with the closure of the company’s extensive branch network, which depressed its earnings for 2008.
Hyperion Insurance (Howden)
Chief executive: Tim Coles
Hyperion broking arm Howden reported a 43% leap in broking revenues this year, thanks partly to the establishment of a North American P&C business. These strong results followed 51% growth in the year before, which helped propel the company three places up the Top 50.
Chief executive: Michael Rea
CCV’s top management are clearly in no mood to rein back on their acquisition spree this year. Chief executive Micheal Rea has already announced five purchases this year for the Peter Cullum-backed vehicle. Newcastle broker Bishops Skinner is the latest to join the fold.
Chief executive: Paul Bridgwater
Formed following a buy-out in 1999, Bedford-based RK Harrison continued its slow climb up the Top 50 this year, its two-place rise mirroring the same movement last year.
Hastings Insurance Services
Chief executive: Edward Fitzmaurice
For Hastings, the past year has been a turnaround exercise following 2008’s £23m losses and the subsequent management buy-out of the
business from IAG. A new entrant to last year’s Top 50, its most recent accounts show £2.7m of pre-tax losses on roughly the same turnover – £47.8m – as in 2008. Earlier this year, Hastings also received a £20m cash injection from Lloyds Banking Group.
Chairman: Hugo Crawley
BMS Group, run by chairman Hugo Crawley, has its origins in specialist London-based North American treaty reinsurance broker Ballantyne McKean & Sullivan, formed in 1980. The group now comprises 11 London-based companies and 10 international offices and has branched out to offer all reinsurance lines, commercial and major risks insurance. BMS doubled its underlying profit for last year from 2008’s £4.5m to £9.2m.
Group chief executive: Frank Murphy
Despite recording an operating loss of £165,000 for the six months ending 30 April 2010 – from an operating profit of £377,000 in the same period during 2008/09 – the THB Group is on the acquisition trail. The company revealed in July that it had appointed Deloitte to scour the market for suitable acquisitions, with a focus on its established strengths, such as delegated authority property, and by growing its European and UK wholesale units.
Chief executive: Carl Shuker
A-Plan is the highest new entry in this year’s Top 50, breaking into the table for the first time in its 40-plus years in the business.
But it’s not just the Oxford-based broker’s placing that will spark interest; it is how the company has achieved it. For a start, it is a personal lines broker. But it also has a large and growing chain of high-street branches. After Swinton, A-Plan has easily the second largest network of high-street outlets of any of this year’s Top 50 brokers.
Chief executive Carl Shuker’s recent announcement of a new A-Plan branch in Poole – taking its total number of shops to 58 – confirms that the broker is not altering what many would consider a counter-intuitive strategy in these internet-focused days.
Over the past year, the company has added another three shops to the 54 it inherited following 2008’s management buy-out. And Shuker has hinted that there could be more
deals in the pipeline. The Poole opening reflects A-Plan’s strategy of expanding outside its south east heartland. The company does not have any branches north of Birmingham, but Shuker told Insurance Times earlier this year that it has not ruled out expansion into fresh regions.
Shuker clearly believes that face-to-face contact offers A-Plan a competitive advantage.
And Barclay’s Private Equity, which owns a two thirds stake in the broker, seems happy with its investment. Despite rumours to the contrary, Insurance Times reported earlier this year that it had no plans to sell its share.
Chief executive: Paul Chase-Gardener
Group Direct is part of the bigger Brightside Group. The West Country-based Group Direct's family of businesses includes Commercial
Vehicle Direct and Panacea Finance. Earlier this year, Brightside eyed up Jelf as a potential acquisition.
Chief executive: Martin Oliver
Barbon has set itself a target to nearly double its £150m book over the next three years. The residential and commercial property insurance specialist, owned by high-street banks, aims to achieve about 75% of its targeted £100m growth in gross written premium through acquisitions and the rest organically. Through a new scheme for start-up broking entrepreneurs, Barbon is also offering support on areas such as compliance, IT, marketing and banking.
Chief executive: Marshall King
Marshall King took over as chief executive of the Lloyd’s insurance and reinsurance broker last September. Since then, RFIB has continued its expansion drive across Australia and the Far East, including the opening of an office for its energy business in Perth.
Chief executive: David Flux
Broker Adrian Flux established the business in 1973 to offer a motor insurance service to disabled drivers. Since then, the company has developed a range of motor niches under first Adrian and, following his death in 1999, his son David. In the past year, the Kings Lynn-based company has announce the creation of 100 jobs.
Chief executive: Michael Donegan
By some margin the oldest new entrant into the Top 50, Price Forbes dates back to 1873. The Lloyd’s broker’s entry into this year’s table follows the 2006 management buy-out of the firm from Marsh. In 2004, while still under the Marsh umbrella, it merged with Prentis Donegan & Partners, which specialised in trucking, real estate, manufacturing, marine, energy and cargo.
Price Forbes’ traditional strengths lay in utilities, construction, casualty, professional liability and the setting up and administration of delegated facilities. While it offers cover in every country except North America, Price Forbes specialises in high-risk and developing countries.
It aims to meet the needs of non-governmental organisations, charities, diplomats, aid agencies, multinational companies, international schools and expatriates. Its motor unit, for example, provides expert loss and damage insurance for those living and working overseas, offering cover ranging from minor accidental damage to serious situations such as terrorism, hijacking and natural disasters.
The company’s biggest move during the past year has been the establishment of a treaty reinsurance division. The new division, which will be headed by Paul Bumpstead, is expected to be up and running by October.
Tyser & Co
Chief executive: Chris Elliott
In business since 1820, the Lloyd’s broker has its roots in the marine industry, but nowadays provides the full range of general wholesale and retail insurance services. Its major shareholder is Hawkes Bay Holdings, an employee-owned investment holding company, and chief officer Chris Elliott has spent his whole career at the company since joining in 1982.
United Insurance Brokers
Chairman: Bassem Kabban
The product of a 1987 buy-out from Marsh & McLennan, UIB’s roots go back to the 1960s when its forerunner became the first insurance broker in the Middle East. It was also the first to join Lloyd’s without having to operate under an umbrella arrangement with a Lloyd’s broker. UIB’s big win this year has been the account for Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc.
Chief executive: Colin Bird
Rumours of a management buy-out have swirled this year around the Lloyd's broker. Besso's staff count has increased from about 200 in 2005 to just under 300 following the acquisition of
H Bernstein Insurance Brokers four years ago.
Towers Watson Reinsurance
Chief executive: John Haley
Unlike many of its peers that combine broking and consulting, Towers Watson – which has dropped more places than any other company in this year’s Top 50 – is more consultancy than broker. The broking division is embedded in the group’s risk and financial services division, which accounted for 24% of overall revenues, according to the firm’s first quarter results.
The company was formed through a merger of actuarial consultancy Towers Perrin and human resources and actuarial consultancy Watson Wyatt, a deal that was completed in January this year.
This year’s disappointing Top 50 position should not, however, imply that broking is an afterthought for the firm. Towers Watson insists that it covers all major lines and has relationships with about 200 reinsurers and Lloyd’s underwriters.
And it seems determined to grow larger. In July it poached Brian O’Neill from Guy Carpenter and Scott Emanuele from Munich Re America to bolster its reinsurance broking division, having already taken two executives – Robert Betz and Lloyd Stolko – from Guy Carpenter in June.
Chief executive: John Bennett
A long established Lloyd’s broking group, which dates back to 1933, Windsor is majority owned by its staff following a management buy-out in 2007. Earlier this year, the group secured a deal to refinance its debt with Clydesdale Bank.
The agreement follows the Lloyd’s £33.7m broker management buy-out from shareholders two years ago, which paved the way for Windsor’s delisting.
Newman, Martin and Buchan
Chairman: Gordon Newman
Continuity is key to this 150-strong Lloyd's broker’s proposition. The firm’s organic-only growth since its launch in 1987 is, it claims, rooted in the fostering of long-term relationships using teams that do not change from year to year. Reflecting this approach, chairman Gordon Newman has been at the helm since the firm’s establishment .
Chief executive: David Newman
A drop in the number of motorcycles on the road was blamed for a fall in Carole Nash’s profits earlier this year. However, Groupama’s UK chief executive François-Xavier Boisseau strenuously denied market rumours that the insurer was planning to sell the Cheshire broker.
Managing director: Stephen Burrows
Formed following a merger in 2006, last year’s second highest new entrant to the Top 50 continued to add new members this year. The Cobra network now has 159 members, Surrey-based Riverbourne Group being the latest.
Chairman: Graham Lark
Set up in 1948 as a family firm, the Lark Group is now owned by Groupama, offering a range of services to private clients. Cousins Graham and Stephen Lark are both still on the group’s board, acting as chairman and managing director, respectively.
Chief executive: Chris Ward
Abbey Protection chief executive Chris Ward is hoping to capitalise on the deregulation of the legal services sector. After announcing 6% growth in pre-tax profits earlier this year, Ward said the legal and tax insurance specialist was eyeing up acquisitions in the commercial law sector. Ownership rules are set to be loosened up in this area as a result of the new Legal Services Act.
Chief executive: Joe Henderson
Henderson’s aggressive approach to expanding its business has catapulted it up the rankings, rewarding the Leeds-based broker with its first appearance in the Top 50.
The broker, one of the largest independents in the market, has developed a strategy of targeted niche acquisitions, senior appointments and organic growth. A £4.5m loan from Lloyds TSB enabled Henderson to compete with rivals for acquisitions. Most of the loan was spent on two deals. In September 2009 Henderson expanded into the credit insurance market, acquiring £10m gross written premium UK Credit. The move also gave Henderson a presence in north London. Henderson also snapped up Leeds-based Denney O’Hara, its most recent acquisition.
It is thought Henderson still has about £1.5m to play with, in addition to other funding sources. Henderson is keen to make a transformational deal – one that could add 40% growth to the business – propelling the provincial broker above its holy grail of £200m gross written premium.
New faces have joined the broker this year, such as Gordon Brain, previously of Bluefin, as group broking director. In June it also announced 12 appointments across its network of 10 offices.
The broker has been linked with selling a stake to private equity firms in the past, but insists it wants to remain independent.
Henderson has more than 10 UK commercial broking offices, as well as specialist Lloyd’s business Contractsure and divisions for surety services, risk management, healthcare and real estate development.
Chief executive: Hugh Price
AHJ is a Lloyd’s broker specialising in marine risks. Hugh Price, who has been with the business since its establishment in 1973, became both chairman and chief executive in 1996. He says the company prides itself on the comprehensive insurance cover it offers.
Chairman: Nigel Barton
Oxygen’s arrival in the Top 50 league table will come as no surprise to industry watchers, who have winessed the business growing impressively since its beginnings in 2004.
The business was originally funded by the board’s directors and private investors from the insurance world. Led by charismatic chairman Nigel Barton, the firm based itself in London.
It made its first acquisition in 2006, when it snapped up Smart & Cook Consulting, after which Barton rebranded the business Oxygen UK Corporate Risks.
Oxygen has since grown in key areas – construction, financial institutions, mining, building societies, professions and reinsurance. Oxygen now has 11 offices across the UK and US. In May this year, it opened an office in Bristol dedicated to handling corporate risks.
Oxygen is still regarded as a boutique specialist. Its music and entertainment arm, Robertson Taylor, handles the insurance needs of some high-profile celebrities, while Oxygen Private Client Services caters for the super rich.
The organisation’s only venture outside broking and risk management ended in 2008 when it sold Oxygen Insurance Managers Underwriting – the group’s managing general agency – to Arthur J Gallagher (UK). The possibility of starting another MGA has not been ruled out for the near future.
Chief executive: David Merry
In business since the early 1970s, CJ Coleman acts as a wholesaler for intermediaries and provides risk management solutions for commercial clients. The company is particularly active in Scandinavia.
Fortis Insurance Solutions
Managing director: Andy Watson
Formed when Outright, the result of a management buy-out from HSBC, became part of Fortis (UK) in 2005, Fortis Insurance Solutions was rebranded under its current name in 2008.
Berry Palmer & Lyle
Chairman: Charles Berry
The fifth new entrant in the Top 50, BPL is a specialist Lloyd’s broker that achieved almost 48% growth in income last year. Formed in 1983, it works mainly with private companies offering exposure to non-payment, non-performance, terrorism and country risk. BPL’s London and Paris offices are the centre of a global network.
Chairman: Paul Moors
Founded as a local broker in Cheshire in 1973, Bollington is now 60% owned by Groupama. Chairman Paul Moors remains bullish despite a 50%-plus fall in a pre-tax profits this year. IT