Market capitalization: $2.1 billion
Number of brokerages: 377
Number of offices: 1,900
Brokerage GWP: $5.3 billion
(Figures correct from FY18)
Industry giant Steadfast is the largest insurance broker network and underwriting group in Australasia, bringing over 370 independent brokerages and 25 underwriting agencies together under one easily-recognised banner.
The group is comprised of three distinct business units – its broker network, underwriting agencies, and complementary businesses, which focus on the intermediated general insurance market.
While Steadfast is currently the largest broker network in Australasia, the group actually has fairly modest origins, opening its doors in April 1996 with just 43 brokers.
Initially born out of frustration, the firm was launched in order to help independent brokers, who were struggling to compete against larger multinational brokerages, which had far greater buying power when dealing with insurers. In order to address the issue, Steadfast allowed smaller independent brokers to come together and pool their gross written premium under one banner – all the while maintaining their unique brand and identity.
The greater scale and size gave independent brokers leverage equal to their larger counterparts, significantly leveling the playing field.
Clearly servicing a need, the network grew rapidly and, in 2005, the group acquired a 50% stake in Miramar Underwriting Agency.
By 2013, the network comprised of 278 brokers who were achieving $3.9 billion in GWP and five underwriting agencies with a GWP of $114 million. In August of the same year, the group was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
In 2014, the recently-listed Steadfast acquired the second largest broker network in New Zealand and established its own reinsurance firm, Steadfast Re, in a 50% owned joint venture.
Since then, the group has continued its upwards trajectory, reaching an ASX market capitalization in excess of $2 billion by 2017. In the same year, its network had grown to include more than 360 brokers, accounting for $5 billion GWP. Meanwhile, its underwriting network had expanded to include 24 agencies, writing $777 million in GWP.
Steadfast: Broker network
The Steadfast network includes over 370 general insurance brokerages across Australasia who have access to over 160 products and services.
The group’s network model is unique in that it offers brokers the choice between remaining independently owned and operated or, alternatively, having Steadfast take an equity stake in their business.
Steadfast also operates under a system it refers to as the ‘offer and acceptance’ model, where products and services on offer aren’t compulsory, but the broker network chooses what is best for their unique business and client base.
Due to the size and scale of the network, Steadfast brokers gain access to benefits that are unavailable to purely independent brokers. These include improved policy wordings, broker services and technology, as well as triage support for challenging claims.
In FY18, the broker network’s GWP increased to $5.3 billion, representing around 30% of the Australian intermediated general insurance market.
Steadfast: Underwriting agencies
In addition to the expansive broker network, Steadfast’s underwriting agency group is the largest of its kind in Australasia, with 25 agencies and over 100 products.
Much like the broker network, each of the agencies retains its own independent brand. The group designs, develops and provides specialist products and services to brokers both inside and outside of the Steadfast broker network
In FY18, the underwriting network delivered a GWP of $914 million – representing an increase of 18% over the previous year.
Steadfast: Complementary businesses
Steadfast’s broker and underwriting partners can also gain support from seven complementary businesses which are part of the Steadfast group – these include Steadfast Technologies, Steadfast Business Solutions, Work Health options, Steadfast Re, Steadfast Life, Macquarie Pacific Funding and Meridian Lawyers.
Steadfast offers a wide range of business insurance, including aviation, business interruptions, contract works, corporate travel, cyber, events, farm, marine, management liability, product liability, professional indemnity, public liability, trade credit, and workers’ compensation.
The group also offers a range of personal insurance, across the home and contents, landlord, life, motor and strata sectors.
Steadfast: International expansion
While Steadfast’s primary presence is in Australia, the group’s key growth strategy is to extend its international reach. It now has 53 network brokers in New Zealand and Asia.
In 2017, Steadfast increased its international presence by acquiring a 40% stake in unisonSteadfast, which is one of the one of the world’s largest general insurance broker networks with 200 brokers in 130 countries.
In 2016, Steadfast launched the Steadfast Client Trading Platform (SCTP), which is a digital marketplace giving brokers automated access to all insurer partners. The platform offers brokers a single screen comparing policies and prices from insurers.
The SCTP is now active across six of Steadfast’s insurance lines with 14 insurer and underwriting agency partners connected. In FY18, over $230 million of GWP was transacted through the platform and Steadfast embarked on a plan to begin monetising the system.
Steadfast also operates its own client data management system known as INSIGHT, which gives brokers a single view of a customer’s business – 75 brokerages are now live on the platform.
Steadfast: Corporate social responsibility
One of Steadfast’s most prominent corporate social responsibility initiatives is the Steadfast Foundation, which was established in 2011 to facilitate grants and donations to support charities helping people overcome adversity.
Charities are often chosen based on recommendations from brokers although the Steadfast Foundation Board is responsible for reviewing all grant applications based on a selection process which considers factors such as; ongoing strategy, partnerships, sustainability, commitment to excellence and leverage potential.
The foundation typically donates around 1% of net profit after tax to charitable causes each financial year and, in its first 10 years, the foundation made a combined total of $1.3 million in donations to a variety of charities including; Assistance Dogs Australia, Children’s Cancer Institute, Make A Wish, The Salvation Army, The Returned Services League and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.