Think Insurance MD on recent acquisition, future plans

He shares his top tips to a successful M&A transaction

Think Insurance MD on recent acquisition, future plans

Mergers & Acquisitions

By Mia Wallace

It’s a major milestone for any business – to celebrate its first acquisition, and the team at the West Midlands brokerage Think Insurance had plenty to celebrate earlier this month when they welcomed the Oldbury-based commercial insurance broker Sovereign Insurance (Langley) Services Limited onboard.

Having served the insurance market since 1986, the incoming Sovereign Insurance – which was founded by John English and Malcolm Evans – seemed a natural fit for Think Insurance and its stated ambition of strengthening the commercial arm of its offering. Think Insurance’s commercial director Russell Bence (pictured) spoke with Insurance Business to discuss how the acquisition came about and the firm’s meeting with Sovereign was quite the example of serendipity.

“They were very kindly introduced to us via one of our close panel members, who recognised the potential fit between Sovereign and Think,” he said. “Sovereign was centred around building lasting relationships with local businesses, and this fits perfectly within our commercial team, where we run a similar model. John and Malcolm were looking for an exit strategy, and we were able to accommodate their needs and ensure that their customers were in good hands moving forward.”

As per the terms of the deal, Evans and English will continue their roles, while joining Think Insurance’s commercial team – a logical next step for the duo who spent 36 years building the business and were clear in their aim of finding a buyer with a shared ethos. Looking back on Think Insurance’s first acquisition, Bence highlighted that the process was very straightforward as the Sovereign team was a pleasure to work with.

“I have completed several acquisitions in the past,” he said, “and this experience helped make the process easier, plus we have a strong team at Think who worked hard to make things as smooth and efficient as possible for everyone involved.”

With this successful transaction under the Think Insurance belt, Bence offered top tips to other businesses looking to navigate the M&A market and highlighted the importance of being “approachable, flexible and well-organised” as the key to securing any acquisition. Clear and regular communication is also essential, he said. When it comes to acquisitions, there are bound to be questions or hurdles along the way, but by making sure that all parties are kept informed and involved, you give any deal-making activity the best possible chance of succeeding.

Further growth plans are very much on the cards for Think Insurance and the broking firm is currently engaging in a variety of new conversations. Bence highlighted his belief that it is the business’s flexible and personable approach to engaging with prospective vendors that makes it the ideal partner for small business owners.

“We know the sale process can be daunting,” he said, “but the focus of the team is to ensure this is as pain-free as possible, and that it works to the seller’s timescale.”

As commercial director, Bence’s role is very varied, but his key responsibilities revolve around developing and managing Think Insurance’s insurer and partner relationships. The business has added several new panel members in the last six months while continuing to grow its existing panel, which is integral to its long-term success. As a specialist provider, Think Insurance focuses on a variety of business lines including motor trade road risk, young driver – telematics, convicted driver, motorhome and commercial insurance.

In addition to his work creating strong and lasting partnerships across the industry, Bence’s position also sees him handle contract negotiations across most areas of the business, from IT to acquisitions, as well as providing support to the senior management team. With this birds-eye view of the business, he sees first-hand the multiple growth strategies it is employing – of which M&A is only one strand.

“Our focus is very much on sustainable organic growth. We are a key player in some great niche areas,” he said. “We have increased our panel(s) to ensure we offer a wider footprint for our customers. In addition to these areas, commercial insurance is a huge opportunity for us and we have expanded the team and formed some new insurer partnerships. We are also reviewing our distribution model and will be introducing additional sources in the next 12 months to complement our already successful methods.”

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