But Willis PI chief says broker’s underlying trading is robust

Prime Professions, the professional indemnity broker bought by Willis last year, posted a £287,903 pre-tax loss during its final year of independence.

Results filed at Companies House revealed the loss for the year to 31 March 2013 (2012: profit of £465,425).

But Willis FINEX global head of UK professional indemnity Martin Ellis said the loss was generated by a write off of a £1.3m intercompany loan during the takeover, as well as one-off costs related to the purchase by Willis.

Willis bought Prime Professions in April 2013 and integrated it into its FINEX division, Willis’s financial and executive risks practice.

Ellis said the professional indemnity book of business within Willis FINEX is very strong and says the Prime Professions team has a made a significant contribution to revenue since the acquisition.

The legal services practice had its most successful year in 2013, Ellis added, with considerable growth of both clients and revenue.

He told Insurance Times: “It’s important to note that the loss “was generated by exceptional items” and is not a trading loss.

“All this makes comparison with the prior year not really appropriate. We have been very pleased with the performance of the acquisition, which now trades as a division of Willis limited.”

The turnover for the financial year was £9m (2012: £8.9m) which Prime Professions said was secured despite the extremely difficult trading conditions in all areas of the business.

Prime Professions integration  

At the time of the acquisition Willis Group deputy chief executive Steve Hearn said the acquisition of Prime Professions represented a big growth opportunity for the broker in the professional indemnity insurance space.

Ellis adds: “Following the successful integration of the Prime and Willis teams, we firmly believe that the foundations have been laid for a further successful year in 2014 and beyond with plans to grow in all areas of targeted business across a number of professions.”

But he said the professional indemnity insurance market remained a competitive environment with only one or two areas such as IFA’s and surveyors struggling with insurer capacity and as a result facing tougher capacity.

“Having said that for the right risk, there always seems to be more than enough choices of insurer,” Ellis added.

The PI team at Willis FINEX will be launching a number of products during 2014 for different professional services businesses.