Going BIG on organic growth

Chief executive defines the strategy behind Billyard Insurance Group's success

Going BIG on organic growth

Insurance News


Stephen Billyard, chief executive of Billyard Insurance Group (BIG), sees the significance of nurturing core values and attracting talent as a path to organic growth. Being named CEO of the Year at the Insurance Business Canada 2021 Awards is a recognition of his effective strategy, which he describes in this interview.

He believes there are various ways to move a brokerage forward, as shown by the example of industry players who have become adept at non-organic expansion methods, such as consolidation, acquisition, and integrating “large amounts of capital” into their business. However, he regards organic growth as one of his company’s main principles.

“[There are] brokerages that are strictly organic, like BIG and many other players in the space,” Billyard said. “To be successful in the organic space, you need to be good at a lot of things, much like being successful in the consolidation space, starting with business development, learning how to get out to communities … [forming] relationships with lawyers and auto dealers and real estate agents, and being involved.”

He also emphasized the importance of creating “a brand that stands behind a broker” so that brokers can rely on market representation while cultivating their networks. Other crucial elements are hiring and onboarding as organizations face the challenge of developing human capital. “We’ve brought on over 700 agents in the last number of years. And that apparatus, not only of finding and cultivating those agents, but getting them to a place where they are at a computer and prepared to sell, is a bit of a heavy lift. And we have a lot of infrastructure built around trying to achieve those outcomes,” he said.

The overall strategy involves developing brokers’ knowledge of traditional and digital advertising, including SEO and SCM. Technology, he said, can make it easier for brokers and customers to work with one another.

Like every company that has faced economic uncertainty and pivoted to home-based work during the pandemic, BIG experienced “a lot of anxiety … [for the] leadership team trying to run this business in a stable and predictable way, and anxiety [for] our teams, our employees,” said Billyard.

“But COVID aside, I think early on we had to do a lot of work to convince an industry that wasn’t very accustomed to organic growth of how we were doing business, of [how] our model expanded, and we don’t have those conversations anymore,” he said. “We’ve established ourselves as a national player here and we’ve made it through those hard challenges of growth.”

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!