Ipswich insurance brokers snapped up by global giant

WM Brokers director Toni Vincent-Panich and managing director David McGowan

Ipswich-based WM Brokers director Toni Vincent-Panich and managing director David McGowan - Credit: Latohya Hammond

An arm of an Ipswich-based financial firm has been bought by a global insurance giant for an undisclosed sum.

Global Risk Partners (GRP) - part of Brown & Brown - has acquired the general insurance portfolio of Woodward Markwell Insurance Brokers Ltd.

The 32-strong insurance team at the £11m turnover business - which will now trade as WM Brokers Ltd - will remain and will be headed up by managing director David McGowan and fellow director Toni Vincent-Panich.

The purchase is GRP's 100th acquisition since 2013 when the business was founded.

WM Brokers - which has strong links with the business community - has been writing insurance in East Anglia for 40 years and will become GRP's hub in East Anglia.

"There are no changes to our people or their roles. We have a fantastic team here at WM Brokers, a team who are dedicated to the success, the good name and continued growth of our business," said Ms Vincent-Panich.

"This is part of the reason that GRP were interested in acquiring us and making us their ‘hub’ in East Anglia. We have demonstrated continued growth through hard work, our knowledge within our industry, our ethos, our people and our hunger for success. Our people make our business - they are the reason for its continued success."

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Outgoing director Julie Dyer will stay with the business for a number of months in her current role to ensure a seamless transfer.

The financial services division of Woodward Markwell - which is based in Ipswich town centre and employs 22 staff - is not part of the deal and will continue unchanged. The business, established in 1982, will retain its name and brand and continue to deliver financial advice to corporate and personal clients.

GRP chief executive Mike Bruce said acquiring WM Brokers was an important next step in achieving nationwide coverage for the group.

“In celebrating our 100th deal we have shown the true value of a devolved, empowered consolidation model, that works for our people, brokers, clients and our insurer partners,” he said.

“We have stated our intention to trade across the whole of England and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland, and this acquisition is a key landmark in that strategy. WM Brokers is a high quality business with a solid footprint in East Anglia. 

“David McGowan and his team are highly impressive and experienced entrepreneurs and their strength as a unit was a key factor behind our interest in the business.

“WM Brokers will be a valuable addition to our portfolio and we look forward to supporting them on the next stage of their growth journey.”

Mr McGowan said it was "great" to become the 100th and newest member of GRP. 

“GRP has a reputation for supporting ambitious brokerages with a strong entrepreneurial ethos. We see this deal as an opportunity to significantly grow our presence in East Anglia and deliver an ever wider portfolio of products and services to our clients," he added. 

"I am excited by the opportunities that lie ahead. GRP will, I’m convinced, be excellent custodians for our business, our colleagues and our clients.”

The deal has received regulatory approval. Brown & Brown employs more than 14,500 workers across more than 450 locations worldwide.