At the heart of being an effective matchmaker is the ability to match supply with demand, and looking across the insurance broking M&A market Wayne Bradshaw can see a great deal of both and an opportunity to introduce them.
An insurance stalwart, Bradshaw (pictured), recently announced the launch of his acquisitions company – Wayne Bradshaw Acquisitions – a move which he highlighted is a natural extension of the broker-focused insurance career he has enjoyed to date. He started his career working in the claims unit of Norwich Union, he said, and from there he went on to work for a loss adjusting firm (where he was part of the team handling the Lockerbie plane crash). Later he did another stint at Norwich Union before taking some time away from insurance to run a pub.
He returned to insurance to serve as a sales and marketing director at Tradewise until the business closed in 2021, he said – a very happy working period of his life where he had a wonderful time and helped build a business he really believed in. Having been lucky enough to enjoy good jobs at good businesses the whole way through his insurance career, Bradshaw had never really needed to step outside that structure but necessity is the mother of invention – hence how his recent venture came about.
“Looking back, the Norwich Union training I received as a young man was very good,” he said. “And my time in claims gave me an affinity with people. And the last 20 years with Tradewise, we were a broker-based company, we didn’t deal directly with the public. So, I spent all my time with brokers which I really enjoyed.
“[…] I know a lot of broking businesses and I know them inside out. They know me as well, they know I’m a fair and honest man. And I think this is an opportunity to see where I can help them, and where obviously, I can build out my business by doing so. There are brokers that I know who want to buy and there are brokers who want to sell.”
However, he said, the brokers who want to buy don’t usually want to buy just anyone, they have certain business lines and classes they’re looking for, Meanwhile, the ones who want to sell don’t want to sell to just anyone, and some of them will need some help in actually selling their business. What Wayne Bradshaw Acquisitions is looking to provide is a hand-holding exercise that supports both sides of the equation from start to finish – and takes the stress out of the M&A process.
It’s definitely an interesting time to be buying or selling in the broking market, Bradshaw said. There’s the tumult of the post-COVID period where hybrid working has become the norm for many, the regulatory burden facing brokers, and the cost-of-living crisis which is squeezing the margins for so many smaller businesses – all offset by the wider consolidation of the market with the larger brokers getting bigger all the time.
“But [if you look at the market] some of the brokers who perhaps sail under the radar a bit, are growing fantastically well by buying the right business,” he said. “So, my hope is that I can help people get to where they want to be a little bit quicker.”
“[And] our model is that we’re looking to help the selling broker without any charge. The idea is that any payment we make will be from the buyer. For the broker investigating the possibility of selling, there’s going to be no charge. And if they change their mind and they don’t want to do it, that’s fine. We will keep in touch with them if they ever do decide to go through with the process. And maybe I’m thinking too much of myself but when I think of the hundreds and hundreds of brokers that I know, who trust me, I can see a gap that I’m hoping to fill.”
From his time in the market, Bradshaw has developed a keen understanding of when, where and how brokers are looking to grow – and the reaction to the launch of his new venture has been very positive to date. As his grandmother used to say, he said, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating, but he’s been blown away by the warmth and enthusiasm of the reception that Wayne Bradshaw Acquisitions has received so far.
“It has been heartwarming actually,” he said. “And fingers crossed it’s the start to a really successful venture [that supports the wider market]. In terms of the next steps, we have already been approached by a few brokers interested in buying things. And the next step is being given the opportunity to find the best opportunity for a seller… So for anybody interested, please feel free to contact me – but rest completely assured that everything is done by immediate nondisclosure agreements and in complete privacy. And a conversation is always free.”