The broker plans to provide a ’digital network proposition’ to combat competitor offerings that ’aren’t that great’ and have not ’moved with the times’
Global fintech and insurance broker Acrisure is gunning for a top spot among the UK’s existing broker networks with the creation of a new market player - Acrisure UK Network.
The firm’s leadership plans to give its network an edge by replicating its US commercial M&A model in the UK, to refresh what they view as ”quite tired” and outdated network models.
Leading this project is former Deloitte partner Mark McIlquham, Acrisure’s president of UK retail. He joined the broker in August 2021, following a networking dinner with its president of global insurance, Grahame Millwater.
Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, McIlquham explains that “a lot of the networks” haven’t “moved with the times” and the “offerings from our competitors aren’t that great”.
To therefore take advantage of this potential gap in the market, Acrisure aims to implement a “digital network proposition”, adds Eleanor Gamble, head of strategy for UK retail at Acrisure, who also joined the broker in August 2021.
She continues: ”[Network] models generally have got quite tired – they seem to be focused on providing that compliance service.
“No one’s really thought about bringing [networks] forward with digitisation, with data and what you can do with placement strategy [as well as] cross-selling.”
Digital, vibrant and different
The proposed Acrisure UK Network, which is expected to launch next year, will be created as a “replicate” of the broker’s commercial model in the US, according to McIlquham and Gamble.
The new network will also tap into and utilise the “vibrancy and customer service” that is “synonymous with” Acrisure’s non-executive advisor Andy Fairchild. The former chief executive of insurance technology and software company Applied Systems Europe teamed up with Acrisure in January 2022.
McIlquham says: “Our network will be a combination of businesses that we own 100%, but [that] want to join our network and get the benefits of the centralised infrastructure we’ve got, but also third party brokers that are owned by somebody else [and] members of current networks that want to join something that’s digital, vibrant and different.”
One benefit of Acrisure’s new network will be access to a new artificial intelligence (AI) powered platform, which aims to encourage cross-selling between network member brokers using data and lessons learnt from its existing AI platform, Auris.
Auris is currently only available to brokers that are Acrisure-owned.
Although McIlquham’s “passion” for the insurance industry boils down to his “love” for the “people” and “energy”, it is this “opportunity” available in the market that is ”most important at the moment”.
Fuelling Acrisure’s network ambition is a recent series B funding round - the broker secured $725m (£581m) of investment on 31 May 2022, led by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), with participation from Guggenheim Investments on behalf of certain clients and Oak Hill Advisors.
‘Hungry and energetic’
Since 2013, Acrisure has made 745 M&A deals globally.
McIlquham claims that Acrisure is “very different from a traditional consolidator model where everything’s bashed together”.
Instead, the firm aims to help bought businesses retain their independence by allowing autonomy, encouraging entrepreneurship and offering three capital events.
The three capital events are:
- The initial purchase of the intermediary at the appropriate market value, paid predominantly in cash and including Acrisure stock.
- An Acrisure “turbocharger” earnout, paid in a mixture of cash and Acrisure stock.
- The appreciation of Acrisure stock, which McIlquham says has “appreciated 20 fold in 10 years and has enormous further upside”.
McIlquham adds: “The vendors that are attracted to Acrisure are the ones that see the upside in their businesses, want to carry on running them, want to grow their businesses, are hungry and energetic.
“We are not an option for people who want to go the beach.”