Brokers considering their succession planning have more options on the table than just private equity backing. Industry experts share their views…

WE ASKED: “How can brokers not so keen on private equity ensure succession in their business?”

Andrew Weir, managing director, Greenwood Moreland 

Andrew Weir

Andrew Weir

”Modern community brokers, particularly members of networks, have done well to remain competitive whilst providing good quality products and advice to customers. This means that many of them are already maximising income from their existing book and the days of large consolidators turning up and doubling the margins overnight are behind us. Our approach is quite different.

”Greenwood Moreland is a well-established regional broker currently looking to develop, in part by acquiring and retaining community brokers in Scotland. We are seeking to preserve and develop the value in those businesses, which although relatively small have typically been trading for many years in their local communities.

”The ideal is to find businesses with people we can relate to and hopefully help them to continue on with the next step in their career; this might mean allowing a principal to extract hard earned value and then retire, or simply reduce their hours and the pressure of running a small firm. We also look to enable further opportunities for the promotion of capable and ambitious staff within the acquired business, or from our existing team as we aim to meet additional capacity needs.

”Investment in our IT system enables us to manage a lot of admin centrally and allows branch offices to focus on client service and advice, which has delivered efficiency to our overall operation and frankly has made such deals possible for us.

”We believe that by growing in this manner, we will add value and expand a solid foundation from which to continue developing our commercial proposition to clients in those areas as well as expanding our niche offerings, such as our charity scheme product.

”It’s not for me to compare our approach to growth and acquisitions to the usual private equity-backed model, other than to say I suspect we are fishing in different ponds for now.

”The market is vibrant with many players looking to grow and acquire – as a result, there is more choice now than ever for those brokers looking to sell in the next year or two and I think that’s a good thing for all concerned.”


Phil Bayles

Phil Bayles, managing director, intermediaries, Aviva

“The key thing here is to plan for the long-term.

”Brokers need to look at what type of business they have and what they want it to become, not just in 12 months but in three, five or even 10 years. Then, they can build a plan that enables the key stakeholders, leadership team and shareholders to work towards a shared goal - whether that is to remain independent, pass a family business to the next generation, or grow the business to sell it on.

”Regardless of what the goal is, open and honest conversations are crucial to achieving consensus behind a common vision.

”Once a consensus is in place, a detailed plan is essential. Not simply to outline the route map, but also to plot milestones which demonstrate progress towards achieving the business goal. 

”Brokers are well-versed in planning for the long-term and helping clients achieve their goals. So, with a common vision in place, delivering a succession plan that everyone is behind is eminently achievable.”

Suzy Middleton, deputy chief executive, SEIB Insurance Brokers

Suzy Middleton

Suzy Middleton

”At SEIB, our model on acquisitions and building our business is key to the succession ahead, and so are our people.

”Our model is different from equity-based acquisitions. We are in it for the long-term, not just building up gross written premium quickly, ready to flip to the next investor.

”Running acquired businesses as satellite offices, maintaining the trading name, reputation and the people, is key to the success of any business.

Acquisitions we have undertaken allow existing owners to stay in the business should they desire. Our aim is to provide additional support to departments such as regulation, IT, compliance and HR to free up other teams and enable the entrepreneurial spirit to flow.

”As part of a wider broking group and owned ultimately by a charity, we really do have a rather different offering to most.

”Our teams enjoy and are engaged with this ethical approach to business and so are our clients. It’s not all about the numbers - what truly matters are the clients and our colleagues.”