​Big brokers 'should be nervous'

​Big brokers 'should be nervous' | Insurance Business

​Big brokers
Austbrokers CEO Mark Searles says yesterday’s acquisition now making it New Zealand’s largest insurance cluster network should be enough to make the current big boys Aon and Crombie Lockwood feel nervous.

“I think they should be [nervous], if you look at our Owner-Driver model and the ability for us to partner with people,” Searles told Insurance Business. “We are in a relationship and a people business at the end of the day.

“We’re pretty sure that there are a number of people that will be sitting in those big brokers right now starting to think ‘Well, rather than be the corporate wage slave, how do I do it for myself?’”

“So we give them an alternative – an opportunity to flourish and grow in an Owner-Driver capacity.”

Searles said the New Zealand marketplace was appealing due to its similarities to Australia with big players and a large number of independently-owned broking houses. The deal had been in negotiations for over a year.

“Our whole Owner-Driver model was particularly appealing for BrokerWeb Risk Services, which is New Zealand’s largest independent broker. And then given our experience with AIMS, our joint venture partnership managing the cluster group in Australia, we’ve taken 100% interest in BrokerWeb Management making us the largest cluster group owner in New Zealand.”

Having already been in the market a while through its investments with Insurance Advisernet New Zealand added to their experience here.

“So really this gives us some significant scale that we can apply to the benefits of partners and members,” he said.

And the deal itself would create further synergies and opportunities for growth.

“We’ll be looking at other opportunities within the marketplace to continue that growth story,” Searles said adding that people should not be put off by the greater Australian influence.

“I don’t think being owned by an Australian company is important. I think one of the critical points that we’re making to the [NZ] market now is, not only are we the largest cluster group, we’re actually the largest Australasian-owned broking group because the two big guys are both Americans.

“So we don’t put a plant or flag in the ground and say this is just about Australia. This is about what this means for both Australia AND New Zealand together.

“We’re leveraging our experience, our knowledge, our skills for the benefit of our New Zealand partners.

“So I think that’s a really important part, this whole concept of now being the largest Australasian-owned broking group in New Zealand is a significant fact.”

The other significant factor, he said, was the power of partnership.

“I think it’s a reaffirmation of our business model – the Owner-Driver model.

“It really shows the power of working in partnership, of true partnership. And equally, in terms of our whole value proposition to the broking marketplace with respect to the services and the benefits we provide, significant partners have recognised those and they’re looking to enjoy those same benefits.”