Keeping the brand and culture alive are vital issues when you're ready to sell your business

There are few brokers in their late forties and fifties who aren't actively planning the future of their business and who haven't given at least fleeting consideration to the option of a trade sale.

Many have even embarked on a first date, only to come away with the feeling that the proposed partnership doesn't feel right.

Bob Screen, managing director of Vega Insurance Services, urges brokers to do their research thoroughly and to be sure about the type of business culture that they want their business to be part of before they commit to a long-term relationship.

As with most things in life, realistic expectations and the right attitude of mind on the part both of seller and buyer give broker acquisitions the best chance of a 'happy ever after'.

New force

Vega is a new and dynamic insurance player, formed in October 2003. It is already proving that it is a much-needed new force in the commercial market. "We believe in adding value to our customers, not just selling on price, our business is sustainable and will grow. We are here for the long term," says Screen.

Vega is building a substantial and profitable commercial broking group through acquiring well-managed, predominantly commercial lines intermediaries.

Its goal is to serve the needs of the UK's independent SME businesses, which is a buoyant and growing sector.

It sees real opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell to SMEs and intends to become the sector's natural first choice, based on targeted products and outstanding service.

So is Vega just another aggregator? Far from it. It has introduced a cultural shift to the trade sale. It offers brokers flexibility and enlightened deal structures to align their aspirations with those of Vega.

Importantly, Vega brokers have the opportunity to retain their brand and business culture. The company is genuinely interested in the businesses it buys. It does not buy to dismantle. It buys to make good brokers better through support and investment.

It's an approach that strikes a chord with many brokers who would welcome a trade sale but don't always feel in tune with the aggregator culture.

A sale to Vega means that you and your partners remain involved and in charge. Staff are retained and offered career development.

Your business will be actively developed to achieve its potential, with investment made available for acquisitions, improved computer systems, premises and new staff.

All this comes with the backing of a financially secure group, Primary Group, a worldwide insurance distribution business currently transacting annual premiums in excess of $1.2bn.

Primary Group makes and develops its acquisitions through its own funding.

That means no impatient venture capitalists looking for early returns on their investment. Being part of Vega enables you to see your good work continue, at the same time as being able to phase your exit from the business.

- If you feel that the Vega business model and culture could represent a good future for your business, then please contact us for a confidential exploratory discussion.

Bob Screen can be contacted on 0117 986 5600 or at

To learn more about Vega, please visit

Paul Thompson, of Thompson Rudd

"Everything comes down to personal relationships and Vega felt right from day one. Everything Vega promised has happened. I still feel totally in charge. Vega is clearly in this for the long-term. Staff have reacted very well."

Ian Piper, of Parkwood Sinclair

"What was really vital to us was that we didn't lose our identity. We were determined to guard against staff redundancies that often result from a trade sale. With Vega, we have the opportunity to realise our dreams without losing our business or our staff."

Joe Brown, of Abacans

"I still feel empowered and accountable. I can't think of a better option for my business and my staff. We like the hands-off approach, but value the regular contact and input. It's enabled me to capitalise on my investment in the business."

Brian James, of Jobson James

"We feel extremely positive about the future. We discussed options with a number of organisations but felt that Vega had the edge. With Vega, we knew our business would not be stripped of our valuable employees and our brand lost."