Who are the biggest regional independent brokers? In the second of a series covering all of the UK regions, Insurance Times and its research partner Grant Thornton have calculated who the biggest independent regional brokers are. This time it's the turn of Wales

The Insurance Times top 50 brokers listing will be out next month. It will show some drastic changes in the UK line-up. Bubbling beneath the half century are many of the regional up and coming independent brokers.

Last week the second in our series of top 20 independent regional broker surveys was unveiled. The focus this time was Wales, and like Scotland, the landscape is changing rapidly. Research partner Grant Thornton, which compiled the list, found substantial merger and acquisition activity in the region. In fact, Protectagroup, which was crowned the biggest independent regional broker in Wales, last month acquired Welsh-based broker The Broker Gateway & Vanguard Insurance, in a deal worth £350,000. The Broker Gateway offers a web-based intermediary facility which, for a monthly fee, enables small insurance brokers and estate agents to trade with large insurance companies and offer insurance products to their clients. Protectagroup managing director Paul Ragan recently underwent a management buy-in at a cost of £5m. It is made up of four separate companies: Motaquote Insurance Brokers, Direct Insure, Commercial Insure and Indemnity (UK).

Also surprising was that all the brokers contacted or that submitted information were directly authorised. There were no appointed representatives. A very independent region which has not experienced the consolidators or networks' influence.

Grant Thornton looked at the latest financial results for each company and sent out over 400 questionnaires. Many brokers responded with their latest accounts. Where this information was not forthcoming, Grant Thornton assessed publicly available information from such sources as Companies House. Grant Thornton also assessed the firms' attitudes to FSA regulation and other issues (see box below).

The information was used to assess:

  • The largest broking firm in the region by turnover in the past 12 months
  • The fastest growing broking firm in the region in the last financial year
  • The most efficient broking firm in the region in the last financial year
  • The statistics used to determine the rankings within the categories above have been based on the most up-to-date information provided by the firms in question.

    Welsh brokers views on FSA regulatio

  • Positives:

  • New business leads
  • Staff competence levels increasing with more staff sitting CII exams
  • Greater explanation of products to customers
  • More focus on procedures and training
  • Retention rate (customer) increased
  • Competitive advantage over firms lagging behind on FSA regulation
  • Increased client awareness and product knowledge
  • Improved service
  • Improved operating procedures
  • Negatives

  • More bureaucracy and paperwork
  • Expenses increased
  • Customers confused by paperwork
  • New systems have resulted in increased costs and reduced profits
  • Impacts on income arising from training and awareness costs
  • Additional costs
  • The winner
    Paul Ragan, managing director of Protectagroup, said: "To find out that we have been officially recognised by the industry's bible as the number one independent insurance broker in Wales is fantastic news.

    "It really is the icing on the cake of an exciting year for the company. During the past 10 months alone, we've undergone a management buy-in, relaunched the company's look and name and, more recently, acquired successful broker channel, The Broker Gateway & Vanguard Insurance.

    "We aim to build on this success and have a clear vision for future growth that includes taking our gross sales turnover to £50m by 2006, increasing our staff to 175, continuing our domination of the Welsh insurance market and striving to be ranked among the top 50 independent brokers in the UK. Our ultimate aim is flotation by 2010 and we will be strengthening our board to help us achieve this.

    "The award is a welcome recognition of the hard work and commitment of all our staff who have worked solidly to help us achieve our growth targets."

  • The fastest growing provincial broking firm in Wales over the last financial year is Moorhouse Group.
  • The most efficient provincial broking firm in Wales over the last financial year is Hodge Insurance Brokers.
  • The fastest growin
    We were delighted to sponsor the award for the fastest growing insurance broker in Wales. Congratulations to the winners, The Moorhouse Group, who through their ability to innovate and diversify their product range, have achieved tremendous growth over the last four years. We believe that Moorhouse are exemplifying a trend of profitable growth among insurance companies in Wales.

    Rhian Williams, Sector Marketing Manager - Financial Services, WDA

    Midlands' top 20 broker
    Who are the top 20 regional independent brokers in East and West Midlands? Come and find out at our unveiling ceremony in September.

    If you want to make sure that Grant Thornton has your details for consideration contact andy.mills@gtuk.co.uk . Places at the reception are free but space is limited, so if you would like to reserve a place please call Claire McShane on 0207 618 3456 or email: Claire.mcshane@instimes.co.uk .

    Reservations will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Future regions to be covered include: North East and North West, East Anglia and Essex, South East, South West and Ulster.

    If you want to make sure your latest figures are considered please contact Grant Thornton. For sponsorhip opportunities, please contact Philippa Robbins on 0207 618 3414 or email philippa@instimes.co.uk .