Tuplin says that while Ethos don’t always match the prices paid by other firms, it is the wider proposition that wins brokers over

The prices brokers are attracting for their businesses from acquisition-hungry firms are rising.

This is according to Richard Tuplin, managing director of Ethos Broking, who said it was consolidators that were driving up prices amid more competition than ever to buy the best independent brokers remaining in the market.

But speaking after earlier this week securing Ethos’ ninth regional powerhouse broker in Bennett Christmas, Tuplin said brokers should consider more than just the price offered when selling their business.

“What brokers are now seeing is the price you pay for taking a bigger offer,” Tuplin said. “If a buyer is paying a higher price they are only going to get that money back through really hard consolidation.”

Tuplin said Ethos may not offer the same prices that some consolidators do, but that it was the overall proposition that wins the group deals.

richard tuplin pic

Richard Tuplin, Ethos Broking MD

“We’re a softer model, we have a good framework and are well balanced,” he said. “A good proposition and a solid price will beat just a high price.”

But he said as the number of desirable brokers to acquire in the market diminishes with every deal, and the number of acquisition-hungry firms increases, the price multiples being paid for brokers was generally increasing.

“We have new people coming into the market, that’s not going to stop,” he said. “On top of that you can’t rule out the likes of Aon or Marsh, who will make those regional acquisitions when they choose to with a huge cash warchest.

“It is a very competitive environment, which is why we keep going back to the proposition. That has to be the narrative on the back of a fair price.”

Acquisition targets

Bravo Group, the parent of Ethos, was granted a further £80m in fresh bank funding from Deutsche Bank in June to buy more brokers in the third and fourth quarters of this year. It took overall funding to £200m, including the investment from the group’s private equity owners.

Ethos is targeting a minimum of 12 main hubs in every region of the country. Tuplin said the group still wants to fill gaps in the north east, London, Wales and Bristol, but wouldn’t be drawn on whether he expected more funds would be required to achieve this.

However, while almost a year elapsed between Ethos’ ninth and eighth hub acquisitions – that of Lockyers in September 2018 – he was confident at least one and possibly two hub deals this year, as well as up to five smaller satellite acquisitions completed by the hubs.

Bennett Christmas was well known to Ethos, as a member of Broker Network. Both Broker Network and Ethos are part of Bravo Group, along with Compass Network.

However, while Tuplin said acquiring a network member could speed up the process, he was not prioritising the acquisition of Broker Network or Compass members over other independent brokers.


Ethos was rebranded from Broker Network Partners at the beginning of March, a division initially set up with the motivation of offering a home to Broker Network members looking to sell their business.

Coming up to six months since the rebrand, Tuplin said the rebrand had successfully clarified to the market that Ethos is a broking group, but denied that it was seen as another consolidator.

“We could be viewed as a consolidator by our acquisition attitude, but not by our actions – that’s the thing that defines us,” Tuplin said.

“When we work with these acquisitions it’s very collaborative and emotionally intelligent approach of improving their business.

“The reason we have done these deals is because there is a good fit between the culture, the business and the performance – that should continue to be the case. We’re not going to walk in day one and say use these markets – that’s not what we do.”

Tuplin’s background includes running a large independent broker in Hull with Rob Worrell called The Insurance Partnership. They sold the business to Jelf, which was subsequently bought by Marsh, and then integrated with Bluefin.

He said the experiences of being acquired what shown him what kind of acquisition model he wanted to be a part of.

Tuplin said: “My journey has led me wanting to live with this hybrid model, between having a good regulatory framework, but allowing those partners to have that DNA and framework that makes them successful.”