How to Start an Insurance Broker - by the TEn Appointed Representative Route

About you

In order to set-up your own AR Insurance Broker via TEn, we would first expect you to have had some strong experience of the insurance industry, typically having previously held the position of an Account Executive with another firm.

Alternatively, you may have worked for an Insurer/MGA, or, prhaps you have run your own broking business in the past; or some such similar background.

Indeed, we recommend, at the very least, 5 years experience in the industry before you set out on your own, or plan joining a network such as ours. In truth, 10 years is probably nearer the mark.

Ideally, you would also have gained some Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualifications over the years and, at least, hold a CERT or a DIP; or even an ACII.

However, we equally appreciate experience, as well as years of wisdom. So, lacking qualifications is not necessarily a show stopper; provided you are willing to commit to e-learning and CPD going forward.

Because you have to!

the start up guide

Starting your own business involves being an entrepreneur, both self-motivated and self-reliant. It may be that you are working from a back bedroom for the first couple of years, so it can be lonely at times.

We do understand this and we have a Forum in place for you to communicate with other Memebers and participate on our own social media interaction. It helps.

Last but not least, you need to be financially and emotionally ready for a lean first year, during which time most people will need to observe a restrictive covenant. Therefore, 12 months of chasing new business is generally the only option.

Your Business Plan

To consider seriously starting your own broker, you need to have first created a 3 to 5 year business plan, to outline the scope and ambitions for your business.

You should also profile your audience, competition, sales plan, promotion and marketing strategy as well as any set-up costs you may incur. This Business Plan, together with a CV per proposed director and completion of a TEn Application form, is the initial documentation that TEn will need to progress your application.

You may also want to take some legal advice if you have a restricted covenant, after leaving an employer and if you intend to bring a book of business with you.

Even if your honest intention is to approach them following 12 months without contact, nevertheless some employers believe that clients belong to them in perpetuity and can make trouble when they cannot possibly win.

Unless moving clients is formally agreed with your former employer, then it should not be attempted. An absence of 12 months is a short enough time for your clients still to remember you.

Becoming an Appointed Representative

There are many different options to consider how you become an approved insurance broker and we are putting together a comprehensive comparison between the Appointed Representative Route and the Directly Regulated one.

AR start up guide

For now, we shall expand on how to become an Appointed Representative (AR) insurance broker.

How does the TEn AR model work?

As an Appointed Representative, you become an approved person/company, running regulated activities and acting as an agent exclusively for a Principal company (like TEn Insurance Services or any other insurance network).

The Principal company effectively sub-regulates you and ensures that you comply with FCA rules. Thus you will be subject to some network specific rules, audits and checks, as part of the standard set of ndustry regulations.

As an AR, you are part of a network whom looks after the back-office operations of a traditional insurance broker (insurer relations and negotiations, regulation, accounts reconciliation, IT support) which frees you up to service the client and focus on new business.

Since TEn is not a franchise business, you are not committed to targets. Do as little or as much business as you like, as long as it suits us both (within reason).

One rule we will and always stand by is the ownership of clients. Clients will forever and always belong to the broker, not TEn’s, not ever. This is not always typical of other broker networks but we feel that this keeps us above the rest.

What kind of business can I do as an AR?

TEn is suited to both SME and larger clients businesses. We handle whatever comes, although most clients pay annual premiums between £2,500 and £10,000.

Historically, we have handled winds farms in India and diving contractors in Iraq and all sort of other unusual stuff.

At the time of writing, our Members collectively can count very many clients paying in excess of £50,000 p.a. and a few dozen in excess of £100,000.

There is one Commercial client paying premiums just in excess of £0.5m annually and another that is fast approaching £1m. Our larget HNW Private Client pays almost £100,000 each year.

So, we can accommodate a whole range of client sizes.

Can I become Directly Regulated after being an AR?

Yes, you can. A number of ARs use TEn and the AR model as a springboard to direct regulation when they have outgrown a network or have reached a suitable size to employ enough people to do all those things the network does for them.

In many ways, we regard this scenario as excellent marketing and a recommendation of our services. We only ask that people do not plan this outcome from day one and depart at the end of the minimum period.

This has happened perhaps a dozen times since we started and we do whatever we can to help during the transition and, indeed, sometimes retain a business relationship with the departed in respect of some of their clients and risks.

However, we don’t believe that it makes economic sense for any AR to think in these terms until they have reached a GWP level of at least £5m or more. We retain or have retained ARs at more than double that.

Similarly, we have many established brokers join the network as an Appointed Representatives if they are struggling to compete or want to alleviate the pressures of direct regulation.

Can I develop market relationships and talk to insurers?

Yes, although in 95% of instances, the network will already have a relationship with the relevent insurer and we have our own Insurer Relationship and Placement Manager, who gets to go to the Golf Days.

All TOBAs are necessarily between each insurer and TEn.

Over the years we have evolved 175+ insurer relationships. These span across the large composite and medium sized insurers, as well as smaller MGAs and niche players; plus a number of London Market underwriters..

As a small solitary broker, your support of markets would be spread rather thinly, whereas TEn, as the aggregator of many books of business, we can leverage the collective buying power and rally support from almost any insurer.

Together we achieve better levels of service, more competitive rates and higher commission levels, than you could otherwise achieve on your own.

“Simples”… sorry about that

Also, it’s just worth bearing in mind, that as you reach retirement and, potentially, sell your book of business to another ARs, then there are no agency transfers needed; all are covered by the TEn TOBAs. This makes it a very frictionless sale.

TEn enjoys enhanced service levels with many of our insurer partners. Indeed with some of them, we are part of their exclusive Club arrangement, such as the Aviva Club 110 or NIG First.

AR start up guide

As of now, the number of Agencies/TOBAs stands at about 175-200. That said, approx. 75% of our business is with 25 of them and 75% of the balance is with another 25. That leaves the 5% balance with up ton 150!

A lot of niche markets in the main.

This means that if you have clients with anything specialised to be placed, we probably have the insurer to do so. Carbon Fibre fishing rods being one such example.

And, depending on the nature of the arrangement you have with TEn, we do allow some brokers to speak to insurers under controlled conditions, including proper use of systems and call recording.

This is something, we understand, that other AR networks can resist.

How long am I tied in for?

There is a minimum contract term of 18 months, this being 15 months of initial commitment, followed by a notice period of 90-days at any time after that.

We believe that the TEn AR model will work out well for most Members. In which case, they will continue to support the network without any onerous contractual commitments of longevity being imposed.

We are practical people. If for some reason, the arrangement doesn’t suit a particular Broker, then it is totally pointless to have everybody locked into the relationship for several years.

How am I regulated as an AR?

As an appointed representative, the principal firm (that’s TEn) regulates all its ARs in the network, we also pay any FCA fees as well as carrying out frequent audits by our own compliance staff.

AR start up guide

However, there are some costs associated with on-line learning which you need to pay for yourself and you MUST achieve a certain number of hours learning per year.

You do not pay FSCS or FOS fees either, nor worry about solvency margins.

The FCA has put the AR model in the spotlight, since its 2016 Thematic Review of Principals and their Appointed Representatives in the general insurance sector.

So, during your time with us, you will be subject to various checks to make sure you are continually fit for purpose and doing the right thing to remain compliant.

On that note, TEn is NOT an “easy” option for those individuals or firms who have had difficulties with direct regulation in the past. TEn is concerned as anybody else should be about TCF, Contract Certainty and everything else.

We do a full range of Experian checks before anybody is appointed and, arguably, our ears are closer to the ground in some respects than the FCA and we believe that is much more likely to spot a ‘bad apple’ early.

AR start up guide

Accounting Matters

The ARs are responsible for chasing their own clients for any outstanding payments. They are best placed to threaten these clients with cancelled policies if they don’t pay up within the 28 days allowed; or rather less than that in respect of certain classes of business and/or markets.

We provide all the right reports, MI and paperwork so you can do this on a weekly or a monthly basis.

You will also be rightfully responsible for all the proper accounting of your own business. The TEn Network does all the client and insurer reconciliation in our dedicated Accounts Department. Howver, the AR runs their own business.

What technology will I need & use?

It is of paramount importance that every Member uses one of our prescribed broking systems; without exception..

Depending on the type of business you plan to transact, we will recommend either, Acturis, for Commercial business and normal volumes of Personal Lines, or CDL Strata, for those ARs focused entirely upon churning through high volumes EDI Motor and/or Household policies.

Common systems constitute a significant part of our ability to fulfil our FCA mandated role of oversight and, on a practical level, they are absolutely essential for your day-to-day operation as an AR and collaboration with TEn.

As every AR is set-up as a branch on whichever of the two platforms, it follows that each broker is able to see ONLY their own data, whereas TEn staff have an overview of and access to all branches.

You can connect to the Cloud based system using a simple broadband connection. An ADSL line of reasonable speed should suffice, although a fibre connection, such as BT Infinity, is preferable if locally available.

The capacity/speed of a connection will vary depending upon the number of people it is intended to serve, but, in any event, we are talking about a monthly line cost of between £20 and £50, possibly including VAT.

AR start up guide

A start-up broker can, like many new brokers did in the 1970s, quite literally establish their businesses from a back-bedroom. In which case, most pre-installed home broadband connection should work Ok. Alas, not all of them do!

Business broadband connections are more reliable and less contended than are Home ones, reflecting the higher prices charged; but, theoretically, just about anything should do.

In terms of hardware, in most cases, servers are not required and any decent business/home PCs (or laptop) of less than a couple of years old will do very nicely.

Printers and scanners can be a little bit trickier to get right. Laser printers are definitely preferable to Inkjet and scanners MUST be capable of converting a multi-page document into one single PDF.

Some multi-function machines are pretty much idea, although a FAX element to the multi-functionality is generally unnecessary these days.

Insurance requirements

As a start-up insurance broker, you’ll know better than most what insurances you will need to have in place. Clearly, we are also well positioned to obtain the quotes and to place the covers that you need.

AR start up guide

You should also be prepared to take out an adequate Cyber Policy for your own protection and financial viability, in the every of somebody doing something bad to you.

TEn has a tailored Cyber policy for its Appointed Representatives from as little as £10.00 per month; from a trusted insurance partner. It need only be a very limited form of cover, because the larger financial risks are covered by TEN’s own policy.

Marketing

Once you have a trading and/or acompany name you may want to register a URL and to start thinking about creating a logo and a website.

Contact a local designer to get a logo created for your business, however, we do have tried and tested designers we can introduce you to as well.

You could also engage a local web designer - usually a brother-in-law - although we do offer a marketing support service. For as little as £600 (including VAT), we can do this for you using a pre-configured template, which is optimised for Google. This is competitively priced, even compared to a brother-in-law.

Since 2017, we have promotied our ARs business on the wider web to any prospective clients wanting to find an independent insurance broker in their area, using our own Find Broker website.

If you want help setting up or exploring how to promote your business through social media then we can help you there too. Likewise printer material etc.

Costs

Apart from some initial systems costs, marketing & stationery and CPD costs, the start-up costs for an AR are fairly minimal.

However, we will be happy to talk you through any more details and costs which you might incur in an initial meeting with you. Talk to us today!

Register your company

To register your company, see the Companies House definitive checklist for setting up a company.

Do not expect to set-up as a sole trader! An Llp, Ltd or a Plc, are the only trading entities that we can consider, except in the short-term, as a very brief interim arrangement. We have to be able to ‘credit watch’ our ARs constantly.

By the time you get to this stage you will have already met and signed with TEn and we will certainly be able to help guide you with everything you need to do.

Need more information?

Please use the links below for further reading and, if you have any questions about starting your insurance broker business and becoming an AR, then make an enquiry today. One of our Directors or Regional BDMs will be in touch.

Useful links

FCA Appointed Representative Information

FCA Principals & Appointed Representatives