It’s a busy week at Broker Network. Tomorrow marks its National Conference 2016 in London’s Old Billingsgate, an event built around powering growth for brokers across the country. However, it was the Network’s own growth that took centre stage yesterday.
That’s because Broker Network acquired Finch Group Brokers
, its’ first acquisition of a regional broker – but certainly not its last.
“I don’t think they will be alone,” said Andy Fairchild, CEO of Broker Network, speaking to Insurance Business
and outlining why the Network moved for Finch Group. “We are involved in many discussions with our members, and non-members as well, that fit the profile. This is an important first step for us - but we are interested in talking to other like-minded, independent, entrepreneurial, community based businesses that want to maintain their independence, their brand and strong management team in their local communities.”
According to Fairchild, and Broker Network’s chief commercial officer Des O’Connor, acquisitions like that of Finch, are something that members have been asking for.
“We are responding to our members’ needs here,” stated O’Connor. “When they are ready to have these conversations, when they’re ready to look for funding, they can look to Broker Network now. We already have an outstanding suite of services – and now this is an extension of our service proposition.”
According to O’Connor, the Network is on the lookout for businesses that fit a similar profile to that of Finch, which has been part of Broker Network as a Countrywide member since 1994.
“Finch has been around for a long time and has reached a significant premium base and has a track record of competing and winning business, strong organic growth and a track record of buying smaller businesses in its community, integrating them really well and looking after clients and people,” he said.
“They just reached a natural end of phase one of their growth and were looking for a partner to take them to the next level. When we got talking it was obvious it was a perfect fit – they had an ambitious plan and we were keen to provide some certainty and clarity of funding for the plan and just to help them to continue to grow organically.”
By securing the deal, Fairchild and O’Connor point out that Finch will have access to a host of services including in-house marketing, consultancy, HR support, and, perhaps most importantly, greater financing. However, securing the deal will not affect the company’s independence, they insist.
“We’ve taken a majority position in terms of the shareholding but the management team has retained a significant shareholding,” explained O’Connor. “Therefore, why wouldn’t they retain their independence? We have openly said that the Finch Group brand has got significant value – we’re not going to undermine that value. The brand will be retained indefinitely.”
“For 25 years we have been on a mission to support independent brokers in the UK… we get what being independent looks and feels like,” added Fairchild. “It’s very important to us and it was very important to the Finch team as we were finalising the deal.”
The message is clear that if more deals follow they are “likely to have a very similar structure”. According to Fairchild, it’s a concept that brokers both in and out of the network will want to pay attention to.
“We think we have a proposition here that will survive the test of time and will be an important part of the UK broking landscape,” he said.
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