TV

Mark Searles: on the acquisition trail

The impending IPO of cluster group Steadfast may be the hot topic in the insurance world right now, but its chief rival Austbrokers blazed that trail several years ago and is still growing fast. This week on IBTV, CEO Mark Searles says that Austbrokers’ impressive growth is set to continue – and that acquisitions will be a central part of its strategy.

Video transcript below:

Anna Temple, Insurance Business Online
Anna Temple:  The impending IPO of Cluster Group’s Steadfast may be the hot topic in the insurance world right now, but its chief rival, Austbrokers blazed that trail several years ago and is still growing fast.  Its CEO Mark Searles says the Austbrokers impressive growth is set to continue and their acquisitions will be a central part of its strategy.
 
Mark Searles, CEO, Austbrokers
Mark Searles:  Acquisitions has always been a core part of our strategy.  It continues to be a core part because it’s part of that core growth algorithm. And so we have somewhere between 8 to 10% share of the licenced broker marketplace in Australia.  There is still plenty of opportunity out there.  So, but we can only really maximise that opportunity if we are really optimising our operating model for as attractive as possible.  So, yeah this year has been pretty active and I think in terms of the spend we have made is probably the most active year we have ever had.  That’s because the opportunities are there and from our point of view, you know there are number of things we look at, we let go through to the keeper so to speak.  We want to ensure that the acquisitions we make fit the Austbrokers family both culturally and from a growth perspective as well.  So, yes we will keep talking to the market, we are constantly out there having conversations, we will keep the acquisition path going.  Will it be as aggressive as this year, I can’t say right now because it really depends on what happens in the marketplace. But yes, it’s a core pillar of our future strategy.
 
Anna Temple:  Searles say the next, the impending steadfast flotation means Austbrokers may need to up its game, but welcomes the competition. 
 
Mark Searles:  We welcome a new competitor in the listed marketplace, I mean basically we recognise that we have to up our game.  I mentioned previously the whole concept of optimising our operating model.  That’s for two reasons, one to be more attractive for our existing partners but equally recognising with a new competitor there we have to up our game.  So welcome Steadfast too and hope you are welcome to market, it helps to sharpen our game as I said before and ensures that you know whatever we do, we have to be the best at that particular aspect. 
 
Anna Temple:  Searles also believes that Insurance has a bright future ahead of it, but the industry needs to position itself as a career of choice. 
 
Mark Searles:  In terms of the future, I think the future of this industry is incredibly bright.  It’s only one thing that we as an industry and this is not just Austbrokers, as an industry have to be far better at creating a value proposition around education, around a career because we are particularly poor as an industry of promoting ourselves.  And you know I basically put a call out to all stakeholders, “let’s really get together, really improve the opportunities for young people out there to make this a career of choice”.  This is just is a fantastic industry, I mean I fell into it 10 years ago and it’s something I have never regretted.  I love working in insurance and it’s something that we should be loud and proud about. 
 
Anna Temple:  This is Anna Temple reporting for Insurance Business Online.