Insurance brokers could have been bankers

A group of regional entrepreneurs decided against opening a new bank – but have instead launched a new commercial insurance brokers.

Charlie Hoult, owner of the Hoults Yard, Joel Marks and John Baty started the process of creating Cheviot Insured two years ago, but only after initially considering opening a bank. They are joined by investment from angel investors Anthony Swaddle and Matt Stephenson, of ChocNibbles.

Director of Cheviot Insured Joel Marks explained: “Between us we have more than 75 years of commercial, financial and insurance experience working with industry leading names. Our clients are reassured to know they will be dealing with a principal from the company not a junior broker. If you own a business, it really concentrates the mind to focus on delivery, performance and service.

“I’m a chartered accountant, trained with Binder Hamlyn and spent most of my career in the City managing UK Equity Funds and FTSE pension funds. After 13 years in London I was head hunted by Scottish Widows to manage their £17bn Equity Fund in Edinburgh and headed north.

“My wife is originally from the Tyne Valley and eventually the pull of home was too much and we moved south for the first time with our three children. Charlie and I first met at a school parents’ evening and got on really well. He is really interested in financial services and said he had always wanted to open a bank and that was the start of things.

“Through Charlie, we met with John Baty who has insured Hoults Yard for over 15 years. John has a wealth of knowledge and experience managing large and complex accounts. He’s worked with leading names such as Smart & Cook, Willis Group and Bluefin.

“With our focus on the region, we christened the firm Cheviot Insured – John is a gritty and competitive fell runner, Charlie loves the hardy feeling on the moors of Northumberland, and my family are always out riding.

Cheviot Insured is a member of the Willis Group has access to all the same systems and product suites as established brokers. Additionally, Cheviot has direct links to all major insurers and niche underwriters.

Chairman Charlie Hoult said: “The combination of John and Joel puts us in the Big League of corporate and commercial underwriting. We are already tackling some big client projects. Research and consultancy has enabled us to vastly reduce premiums, especially for mid-sized firms. Many think a long-standing relationship is working for them, but we’ve surprised people with 20–30% cuts by looking at alternatives or handling risk better’.

Director John Baty added: “In recent years the North East region has seen a reduction in choice with independent brokers selling to national chains. We can see a clear gap in the market for a new strong independent regional player offering a personal owner managed service. It could be said that we are bucking the trend locally, but by putting the client’s interests at the centre of everything we do, we feel we can build a quality business that will be around for many years to come.”

The company moved into new offices at the Maling Exchange at Hoults Yard in March and is currently looking to recruit a number of ambitious local graduates to train with the firm.