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New line is catalyst for growth

Borders rail a boost for Bruce Stevenson’s expansion

Bruce StevensonBruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers is opening an office in Galashiels in one of the first signs of the economic benefits expected from the Borders railway.

The firm said the new office would build on the firms’s recent expansion across the country.

The new railway through the Borders, opening later this year, will help drive growth in the region and provide a springboard for Bruce Stevenson to build on existing client base.

Edward Bruce, chief executive, said: “The economy in the Borders is already growing and it will develop even further once the Borders Railway opens in September. We identified a gap in the Borders market for an insurance broker to provide a local service based on local knowledge.”

Passenger services will resume on 6 September for the first time since 1969, from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. It is expected to carry 600,000 passengers a year and contribute £33 million to the Scottish economy.

Bruce Stevenson is already the largest independent in Edinburgh and the second largest in Scotland has other offices Glasgow and London, and last year opened a base in Aberdeen.

The business has grown to 80 staff since Edward Bruce’s father David founded the company in 1981 with Tony Stevenson.

It was granted chartered insurance broker status by the Chartered Insurance Institute in 2010, a title held by fewer than 100 brokers in the UK.

The firm was also a founding member of the UNA Alliance, which represents 12 of the largest and most highly-respected independent regional insurance brokers throughout the UK.

Being a UNA member gives Bruce Stevenson increased negotiating power with insurers, as well as access to exclusive covers and policy products

The firm is investing in a long term growth strategy with its entry into Galashiels and has taken a ten-year lease on premises in the town, underlining its commitment to the Borders region.

It was recently awarded a three star accreditation for ‘exceptional customer service’ by Investors in Customers, following an independent assessment.  The firm is among fewer than 15% of companies to achieve this accolade on the first attempt and has the second highest overall score of a financial services company in the UK.

Mr Bruce said: “The new members of staff in our Galashiels base already have in-depth knowledge of the region, which will help them to provide first-class customer service. Indeed, we already have a number of staff based in Edinburgh and Glasgow who previously worked in the broking industry in the Borders.

“Our overall business has grown steadily, we started the year with total premiums of £20m; they’re currently sitting at £23m and we anticipate this growing to over £25m by the year end. This growth is from organic growth rather than growth by acquisition and reinforces our aim to be the broker of choice.

“We are independent, we don’t use call centres – instead we believe in old values, with customer service at the core of the business, which we believe sets us apart from our competitors.

“We are also committed to claims and have invested heavily in this area through a large, dedicated and specialist claims team working closely with our customers to help them when they most need our support.”

Andrew Adam, commercial director, added:  “Our specialist team will serve both corporate and private clients from our new office in Galashiels and it will be good to renew past relationships in the Borders as well as establishing a new client base.

“We are confident that that our key areas of expertise – which include farms and estates, heritage property and renewable energy – will be of great assistance to businesses and private clients in the Borders.”

The practice has a wide range of clients, from country houses and museums through to small and medium-sized businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops. In the renewable energy sector, the firm has handled more than 750MW of project finance deals in the past five years, acting for developers, farmers, landowners, funders and equity partners.

Its work for private clients includes arranging more than 6,000 policies each year, as well as offering professional advice on assets such as fine art and antiques, classic cars and property.

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