Unitas Alliance chairman Ron Forrest has hit back at claims that alliances are of no benefit to brokers.

He was responding to an attack by Broker Network chief executive Grant Ellis.

Ellis had told a Biba regional conference that alliances were “no more than talking shops” which “promise a lot but deliver little”.

Ellis said: “There is no sustainable value added for insurers, so there is little point in joining. The only reason alliances exist is to drive up commissions.

“Unless they come up with a concerted approach to bring pressure on insurers, they will fade.”

But Forrest said: “I think he has missed the point. We are not looking for a great deal from the companies. We are looking to learn from each other.

“By joining an alliance you are meeting like-minded people who all share the same ambitions.”

Forrest said that brokers which joined a network lost independence and paid large fees.

Unitas has 12 members and controls premiums in excess of £320m, according to its website.

Forrest added: “The word ‘talking shops’ was probably used in a derogatory way, but it can be quite good because it means you care a lot.”