For some, the New Year signifies a fresh start that’s often accompanied by a renewed determination to tick off a few resolutions. For the Minnesota-based insurance broker The KNW Group (KNW), the beginning of 2019 brings with it a whole new name as the company rebrands itself to NFP, which acquired KNW back in 2005.
The move, effective February 01, is part of a bigger picture, highlighting NFP’s approach to acquisitions today and how that strategy has evolved over the past decade.
“NFP used to acquire businesses in a different way than how we acquire them now. For all practical purposes, we took ownership stakes in the business and operated as more of a collective as opposed to one combined entity,” said Mike Schneider, NFP’s regional managing director. “Over the last 10 years or so, we have made a fundamental shift with regards to who we want to be and that is one consolidated, integrated entity.”
Since the beginning of the partnership, the two firms have been aligned in their focus on specialties, highlighting a shift in the insurance industry away from a more generalist approach.
“When we formed our company in 2002, we set out to emulate the Mayo Clinic-type approach where everybody in our company had to be a specialist and everybody had to stick to their knitting, and that allowed everybody to stay up to speed on tax law changes, products, what have you, whereas other competitors were more generalist,” explained KNW CEO Marty Nanne, adding that as NFP has grown and evolved over the years, from offering life insurance to corporate benefits, and then executive benefits and qualified planning, and now commercial insurance, many companies in the industry have focused on building out their own specialties as well.
As a result of this approach, KNW has experts on hand around the country to handle NFP’s core specialties, though the two teams are also on the same page when it comes to giving back to the community. KNW has a long history of volunteerism, sending employees out to volunteer at charities that are near and dear to their hearts, alongside providing financial support to a variety of not-for-profit causes. At the same time, NFP has raised funds through a variety of channels, such as charity drives and company-sponsored events, that have been deployed back into communities across the country.
“We both feel very strongly that it’s important for our people and our employees to know that we support them and their causes,” said Nanne. “We’re singing up the same sheet of music.”
Going forward, NFP’s growth strategy will be focused both on growing the business organically as well as through acquisitions that help the company expand into business lines and geographic markets that make sense for its business.
“Do we expect to see the growth? Absolutely. Are we focused on acquisition growth? We absolutely are, but I think the key point here is that we need to be focused just as much as on the organic side of growing our business as we are in acquiring business,” said Schneider, adding that NFP has been successful over the years in building a sustainable business across all business lines including corporate benefits, property and casualty, life insurance and wealth management.