In an exclusive interview, Searles told Insurance Business that the recently-rebranded AIMS joint venture between Austbrokers and IBNA is going to be given “far more teeth” – and that it, not Austbrokers, should be seen as the real competitor to rival Steadfast.
“The insight we’ve gained out of the Steadfast IPO is that the press – especially the national press – see ‘Steadfast v Austbrokers’,” said Searles That’s all very interesting but at the end of the day, we only compete with Steadfast in the ‘equity’ market, ie for people we have an investment in. When it comes to non-equity members, our job is to support IBNA in growing their proposition under the AIMS banner.”
Searles added that the rebrand of AIMS was intended to make the JV more visible to the marketplace.
“[AIMS] still holds true to its original objective, which to aggregate GWP of two networks to give it scale. But what we’re now thinking is that AIMS is the true Steadfast group competitor: Equity and non-equity based coming together under the AIMS banner.
However, Searles played down the idea that this could be the precursor to Austbrokers and IBNA merging into one larger entity.
“From my point of view, AIMS leverages the best of both networks. We’re an equity-based professional group of companies – not a cluster group. IBNA is a member-based cluster group.
“You can combine the two and create a pseudo-Steadfast, but why would you do that? We’re better off sticking to our knitting. We’re bloody good at what we do; IBNA are bloody good at what they do,” he said.
“We operate in our particular ways, but can use AIMS as the point of contact for the incoming broker. So that’s where we’re going to go next – build up the AIMS proposition to support both the equity-based Austbrokers member or the non-equity IBNA member.”