Many independent insurance agency principals find themselves at an inflection point in their lives and careers. They may feel set in a successful career path, but hungry for the next big opportunity. They are deeply vested in growing their business, serving clients, staying ahead of industry changes, managing operations and mentoring staff – but they also are considering the next stage.
Selling their agency is an option, but not for principals who want to continue growing the business they’ve founded and are so deeply committed to. Instead, partnerships that offer resources to catapult to the next stage of growth increasingly appeal to principals of this caliber.
A connected and autonomous partnership model – where a principal maintains significant equity in the agency they lead and supports how they want to grow their legacy – can breathe new life into a stale career.
In this model, an equity partner that acquires an agency offers resources, capital and expertise to help accelerate an agency’s successes. Agency leaders can pursue a second act focused on identifying smaller acquisition targets that will grow their business. This model frees up agency leaders who have established reputations and relationships, developed a vast network and honed deep industry expertise. In return, the agency leader can leverage all of that to source deals in a way they can’t do when they’re busy leading an agency on their own.
Combining this approach with the offer of retained ownership (where the partner acquires a majority stake of an agency and the agency receives capital investment and consultative resources) provides agency leaders the ultimate competitive advantage. It provides the runway for them to dream big and far exceed their goals.
Agency owners who are attracted to these models are not traditionally looking to sell their practices. These agency owners typically take on one of two primary profiles:
- The entrepreneur who is not looking to exit. They value a strategic partner that helps accelerate their existing successes through access to resources and expertise that drive growth, while maintaining a level of ownership that incentivizes them to grow their business faster than ever before.
- The entrepreneur who has identified the next wave of leadership and wants to empower them. The agency is at an inflection point of its existence and needs a different path than has previously been available.
These entrepreneurs frequently have many traits in common, and those traits are the foundation for fostering strong partnerships. Among their traits is a focus on constantly evolving their business and their exponential drive for growth. Entrepreneurs have spent years growing a successful business, and have a fire in their bellies to make a great organization even better. A partnership lets them set new goals and leverage the partner’s tools and resources to grow their business into the future. This support can breathe new life into the agency and its people.
When an agency and its leaders with the above traits decide to establish a “connected autonomy” partnership, they benefit greatly:
- Vested interest. For owners, selling their agency is akin to selling a part of themselves. It represents much of the hopes and dreams they have realized over many years. That’s why a retained ownership model is so compelling to agency principals, because they don’t lose stake in their agency’s success.
- Operational and HR support. Equity partners often take on the mundane operational tasks that consume agency leaders’ time, attention and energy. Assured that everything is running smoothly operationally and now that their resources are freed up, principals can focus on leveraging their network and the expertise they have honed through decades in the industry to identify and pursue tuck-in acquisitions and continued organic growth.
- Growth support. Equity partners also can bring expertise to bear to bolster the growth and productivity of the agency’s producers. This can take many forms from individual coaching to forums where best practices are shared across the platform. Producers are the lifeblood of an agency and their growth must be a priority.
Breathing new life into a career – especially of an individual who has already achieved a great deal – can take many forms. The key is collaborating between agency leaders and strategic partner to find new goals and to plot the course to achieve them together. A “connected autonomy” approach makes this possible.
Jeff Turner is chief executive officer of Keystone Agency Partners. He may be contacted at [email protected].
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