Several factors lead brokers to join forces

CANADA’s p&c broker channel is undergoing unprecedented consolidation as more and more brokerages seek economies of scale, but two competitors from Oshawa, Ont. have chosen a more measured approach by forging a strategic partnership.

Petley-Hare Ltd. and Roughley Insurance Brokers have joined forces as The Roughley & Hare Insurance Group to strengthen their ability to meet the evolving needs of their consumers and secure a stable footprint for the future in their region.

Both businesses will maintain their existing locations and continue to serve clients under their existing brands for the immediate future.

Ashley Holmes, partner at Roughley Insurance Brokers, said it’s evident that the industry is changing and consolidation is a primary factor.

“Realizing that size matters for market, staff and for technology, that was a huge part of the partnership,” Ms. Holmes said.

“The brokerages are family businesses and the principals want to see it prosper far into the future . . . and there’s a much stronger chance of that doing it together.”

Adam Hare, VP of development at Petley-Hare, said the partnership has been two years in the making.

He said the brokerages will take as much time as needed to make the merger official.

Ms. Holmes said rather than facing the challenges of completing the deal quickly, the brokerages decided that completing it in a well-thought-out way will lead to more success long-term.

“When we do, it won’t be as overwhelming, not just for us but for our staff,” Ms. Holmes said.

Mr. Hare said no staff changes are expected for the combined brokerages’ 85 employees.

“Right now there are no immediate job overlaps,” he said. “If anything there will be opportunity for creating roles.”

He said it was important to announce the partnership now in an effort to be transparent to staff and carriers and honour the brokerages’ open work culture.

High competition for talent and the limited entry of new professionals to the insurance industry was another driver behind the strategic partnership, Mr. Hare said.

“In most cases we find people without experience but we can train and teach them how to do the job,” he said.

“But finding talent happens often through sneaking and poaching staff and it’s great not to have to (do that).” Roughley’s Ms. Holmes said that by joining the two firms together, there will be more opportunity to attract talent.

She said the rapid pace of consolidation in the broker channel stems in part from leadership succession issues. And many brokers, especially younger ones, can’t afford to take over the reins, she added.

“There is so much consolidation because there is no next generation,” Ms. Holmes said.

“Affordability is an issue so there has to be someone to do it with — people can’t do this alone. If I thought it was going to be on my own that would be a little scary.

“But (the Roughley & Hare Insurance Group) has a strong group of leaders.”

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