New offers are key to growth at Norwich-based Alan Boswell Group

Alan Boswell, left, executive chairman at Alan Boswell Group, with finance director Alastair Drew. P

Alan Boswell, left, executive chairman at Alan Boswell Group, with finance director Alastair Drew. Picture: Sonya Duncan. - Credit: Archant

Specialising and diversifying has helped financial services firm Alan Boswell Group to extend its presence across the East of England.

While some high-profile banks and insurance brokers have been reducing their footprint, the Norwich-based group has been extending its own, snapping up acquisitions to bolster organic growth.

It acquired Cambridgeshire-based S-Tech in November, strengthening its science and technology offering, and helping it to branch out to reach new customers including the Imperial War Museum, while last month's purchase of Lincolnshire-based Sutcliffe Insurance Brokers took total staff numbers to 325.

The group, which turned over £15.1m in the year to the end of March 2016, has also formed a risk management division, with engineers to carry out health and safety testing for businesses, and has seen a surge in enquiries from firms worried about cyber attacks.

'Cyber is going to be a big growth area,' he said. 'Businesses are worried about what an attack could mean, not just by them being hacked, but also the reputational damage which could be done.'

Focusing on specialist and niche areas, while also serving the broad personal lines side of the industry, has helped the business in a challenging marketplace.

Mr Boswell said: 'You have to have specialisms and we have teams which have knowledge on specific areas - for example, we have someone who is an expert in insuring anaerobic digesters.'

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The acquisitions have brought new customers on to the books, such as the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, and swelled the group's gross written premium, the total revenue from a contract expected to be received by an insurer, up to £90m.

Finance director Alastair Drew added that the S-Tech acquisition, which brought 65 staff, was 'a game changer' in terms of size of acquisition.

Branching out has been important, with the group's financial services arm growing 17% since last year to manage £520m of assets, while the risk management division now has six employees.

Insurance brokers have come under pressure in recent years as comparison websites have flourished, with Swinton Insurance last month announcing it could close its Norwich call centre as more people were buying online.