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Irish insurance broker First Ireland announces 15 new jobs – Press Release

Plans to double GWP to hit €100m and become biggest independent insurance broker

John Roe from insurance broker First IrelandFirst Ireland, one of the country’s leading independent insurance brokers, has announced 15 new sales jobs to be filled in the next 12 months.

The company celebrates 30 years in business in 2011 and it is on an aggressive growth drive through industry acquisitions and new hires, according to company chairman John Roe. A co founder of the established independent company, Roe predicts the company’s Gross Written Premium, GWP, currently standing at circa €50 million, will double over the next five years, hitting €100m.

“We are actively looking for opportunities to increase our business through acquisition and hires and our immediate goal is to be Ireland’s biggest independent insurance broker by the end of 2015,” explains Roe. “Over the past thirty years, we have seen staffing levels grow to 100, our client base to more than 40,000 and our GWP to circa €50 million.

“Our last acquisition was in 2005 when First Ireland Risk Management bought Pat Mee Insurances. Prior to that, in 2002 we acquired Excel Risk Management. Our policy has been to target energetic insurance brokers, or books of business, and absorb management and business into our growing entity,” says Roe.

“Since 2005 the market price for Insurance Brokers was inflated but like everything else reality has set in and more realistic prices are being sought hence our renewed interest in acquisitions,” he says.

Key to the success of the First Ireland juggernaut has been the dedication of its Board of 8 Directors, all of whom work full time in the business. “We have never taken our foot off the accelerator,” says Roe. “Each director has sectoral responsibility and currently all areas are hiring.”

First Ireland began life primarily as a motor and house insurance broker as well as a standalone mortgage business. From the beginning it established a reputation for developing specialist schemes for Groups that were traditionally discriminated against by the insurance industry. For instance they were the first to welcome insurance from motorists with disabilities in 1985, some 15 years before the rest of the market.

Growth was steady and in 1999, the company rebranded from Rooney Gallagher Insurance to First Ireland Risk Management. Three years ago, the company had outgrown its then premises in Phibsboro, moving to its current flagship location on Parkgate Street, Dublin 8.

Over time, more schemes were added, more sales people and a strong customer centric focus was fostered. The Company eschewed the Call Centre model so prevalent in recent years and instead appoints a named individual who deals with all aspects of a Clients insurance, from arranging cover to processing claims. This gives Clients continuity of service and an opportunity to develop long term relationships.

Simultaneously the Company developed a Business Insurance Division, which also caters for Charity and not for profit organisations, that is ranked today in the top 10 Irish Commercial Brokers. It followed the model used in the Personal Insurances of developing specialist schemes in conjunction with general market products with named individuals appointed to each Client.

This year, First Ireland launched an innovative business scheme with Dublin BID, allowing members to gain 20% reduction on their existing premiums amounting to a conservative saving of €1.2million. Under the scheme, First Ireland will also reinvest circa 5% of all premium income into a special fund to promote the Dublin city centre.  This fund is expected to top €1 million over four years.

Roe is a leading, if discrete, business angel. In addition to his position as chairman at First Ireland, he is also chairman of Southern Control Systems Ltd, IBC Ltd, consultancy company John Roe Ltd, and KMAX Intelligent Technology Shanghai. His latest venture, KMAX is dedicated to import security equipment from the UK and US into China – turning the concept of trading with China on its head; while his consultancy company John Roe Ltd provides services in the UK, Qatar, Kuwait as well as Ireland. He also recently joined Mobile Channel Group Ltd as a non-executive director.

He is also to the forefront of First Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Dublin Business School. The award, open to students from all disciplines within the DBS campus, will provide the winning applicant or team with €25,000 worth in business services, office space and utilities; as well as mentoring support and business advice from a range of business consultants and professionals.

Roe is very enthusiastic about Ireland and its prospects and is always seeking out people with new ideas. “First Ireland’s origin is in the 1980s recession” he said. “We learnt then the importance of being properly capitalised. Because of that we now see opportunities in acquisition and expansion at a time when others are having to re-trench. We are very optimistic about 2011 and beyond.”

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