Scots insurance broker Blackford doubles headcount



Scottish insurance broker Blackford has announced it has doubled its team since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last March.

Michael Gregson, Tom Aldridge and Nick Smith
Pictured: Blackford managing director Tom Aldridge (centre) with new hires Michael Gregson (left) and Nick Smith (right)

The start-up business risk specialist was set up just a year before the pandemic struck and now counts global tech firms, eminent fund managers, and renewables heavyweights amongst its client bank.

Blackford has sustained 70% growth across its commercial and newly formed private client practices, with more than 150 new clients appointing the consultancy since March 2020.

Founder and managing director Tom Aldridge said: “Our model is to employ and develop top technical talent, and then grow the business by referral and reputation. We’ll leave the cold nuisance calling to others.

“We also match a service team to a client by considering the character of the brokers and their sector experience, as opposed to simply location. If the past 18 months has taught us anything, it’s that we can assemble a squad of experts, regardless of geography.”

The Aberdeen team has generated half its new appointments since taking up residence in the city’s Marischal Square office development a year ago.

The local team – all formerly Marsh (Central Insurance) employees – has recently been bolstered by the arrival of two commercial brokers, Kira Hendry and Anne Catto.

The group, with other bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, increased its staff numbers to 18 this month and is looking to take on more recruits later this year, in line with its ambitions to employ 25 by 2023.

Blackford has also opened a new private client division led by Michael Gregson (formerly of Oak Underwriting and TL Dallas & Co), offering a tailored insurance service for individuals and families.

Mr Aldridge said: “To deliver sustained high growth over the past 18 months has been undoubtedly tough but our ‘reputation and referral’ approach has certainly helped us, as well as focusing on some of the more resilient sectors such as technology, professional and financial services, construction, and natural resources.”

Nick Smith has been appointed as a client manager, based at the group’s head office at The Garment Factory, Glasgow, with a focus on renewables, engineering and construction. His background includes technical underwriting at insurers RSA and Aviva, as well as working within the renewables team for seven years at Bruce Stevenson.

Commenting on the firm’s success so far, Mr Aldridge added: “There are a number of factors at play right now.

“We have the hard market (premium rating increases whilst insurer capacity and underwriting appetite tightens), coupled with people working from home (in some cases able to commit more time and interest to their insurance renewals), and consolidation at an all-time high across the industry, which has prompted many businesses and families to scrutinise their existing broker offering and seek a fresh alternative.

“The success achieved during the last year has been exceptional. I am very grateful to our hard-working team for their dedication and very excited by the high calibre of people and clients we continue to attract to the business.”



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