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Jan 14 2020

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Top P&C Brokers Ranked

A first-ever ranking of the world’s top 150 brokerage groups by revenues earned from commercial non-life (P&C) insurance has been calculated by London-based market research firm Finaccord.

The top 150 brokers earned total global revenues of $28.5 billion from commercial P&C activity — or 59 percent of the estimated $48.5 billion total global revenues in 2013, according to the firm.

Aon ranked at the top of the list, with commercial lines revenue of $6.1 billion worldwide, followed by Marsh at $5.1 billion.

Overall, the top 15 brokerage groups together earned revenues of $20.9 billion (or 43 percent) of the worldwide market.

Finaccord’s research also showed that across the world’s top 150 commercial non-life insurance brokerage groups, 67 (45 percent) were headquartered in the U.S., with a further 24 based in the U.K., 14 in France, 12 in Germany and eight in Canada.

“The strong presence of North American brokers in the ranking is primarily due to the huge size of the U.S. and Canadian commercial property and casualty markets, and the fact that brokers, including independent agents, dominate distribution in both the U.S. and Canada,” said Bernd Bergmann, a consultant at Finaccord.

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The Finaccord ranking of top 15 commercial non-life (P&C) insurance brokers by estimated commercial non-life broking revenues in 2013, in order, are:

  • Aon: $6.1 billion
  • Marsh: $5.1 billion
  • Willis: $2.05 billion
  • Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., $1.2 billion
  • Wells Fargo Insurance Services: $960 million
  • BB&T Insurance Services: $932 million
  • HUB International: $932 million
  • JLT Group: $878.6 million
  • Lockton: $791 million
  • Gras Savoye: $464.7 million
  • USI Insurance Services: $390.4 million
  • Brown & Brown: $382.4 million
  • Alliant Insurance Services: $288.2 million
  • Towergate: $267.7 million
  • OAMPS Insurance Brokers: $210 million

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Mike O’Connor, CEO of Aon Risk Solutions in Chicago, said the magnitude, complexity and speed of risk are increasing everywhere.

“Even without the uncertainty that is caused by natural catastrophe, economic slowdown, or legislative and regulatory changes, companies are operating in a challenging environment where the pace of change is unparalleled,” O’Connor said.

“Protecting people and property has become more difficult,” he said. “Clients want solutions that will enable cross-border trade and alleviate security concerns in addition to solutions that will help them seek rapid recovery and capital after natural catastrophes.”

Bergmann noted that “a number of large brokers in North America are driving their growth through acquisitions, while the majority of their counterparts in Europe rely more on organic growth.”

Martin Mankabady, partner, Clyde & Co.

“I would say in terms of M&A activity, it is still quite patchy,” said Martin Mankabady, London-based partner in the insurance group at international law firm Clyde & Co. “We still haven’t hit the levels of activity we saw prior to the global financial crisis.

“In large part that is due to lack of confidence and market sentiment. The M&A market is particularly sensitive to that, and with the tensions at this moment in the world, plus talk of certain economies slowing down, all of that inevitably has an impact on M&A.”

He said “real pressure on income and margins being squeezed” has led some brokers to be active in the M&A market. Also driving M&As are brokers looking to achieve greater scale and what they hope will be more clout in the market.

“You can’t help but think that [the small and midsize] market should be ripe for consolidation — that could help them achieve some economies of scale and to potentially be more competitive,” said Mankabady.

“But we haven’t seen that wave of consolidation though there is some talk of it,” he said. “You may see a ripple of consolidation, but I’m not sure it will be a wave.”

He noted that “a number of sellers don’t want to sell unless they have to as they’re worried about not getting the right price, and buyers are worried about overpaying.”

Acquisitions Fuel Growth

Finaccord noted that 61 of the 150 brokers made at least one acquisition relevant to commercial brokerage business lines, and 10 made at least 10 such acquisitions between January 2012 and June 2014.

UK-based Towergate ranked first with 48 acquisitions, ahead of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. and HUB International with 43 each, USI Insurance Services with 27 and AssuredPartners with 26.

“The global ranking may see some important changes in the future if competitors such as Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., HUB International and Towergate continue purchasing other brokers at such a rapid rate,” said Bergmann.

“In particular, given some of the acquisitions announced recently by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co, which include Noraxis Corp. in Canada and The Oval Group in the UK as well as OAMPS Insurance Brokers, the U.S.-based brokerage may substantially shorten the gap to Willis which is currently ranked third,” said Bergmann.

Commercial Lines Revenue Breakout

For a majority of the 150 brokers in the ranking, commercial non-life insurance is the most important source of revenues.

Of those 150 brokers, 22 of them earned more than 90 percent of their total revenue from commercial lines in 2013, while this activity made up at least half of the revenue for 122 brokers.

When ranked according to the proportion of commercial non-life brokerage revenues secured outside of their home market, Willis came in first with a figure of 90 percent in 2013.

Willis was followed by Howden Broking Group (80 percent); JLT Group (78 percent); and RKH Group (74 percent), meaning that the top four groups by this measure were all UK-based firms.

In total, nine groups earned more than 50 percent of their commercial non-life brokerage revenues from international markets in 2013.

Finaccord is a market research, publishing and consulting company specializing in financial services. It provides information about activity in the UK, Europe and globally.

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Sponsored Content: Allied World

Despite Rollback Talk, These Regulatory Trends May Increase Management Liability Exposure for Financial Institutions

Financial institutions — responsible for the personal information of thousands of customers — have long been heavily regulated by both state and federal agencies. As a result, the sector has developed a reputation for strong compliance programs.

“Their compliance regimes and spending on the IT necessary to protect customer information is very robust,” said Marc Berner, U.S. Financial Institutions Product Lead, Allied World.

Some have surmised that banks, insurers and asset managers might relax those regimes, however, amid promises from the current presidential administration to loosen its regulatory grip.

“There was an expectation that the regulatory environment would become more tepid. So far we’ve observed a mixed-bag depending on the type of regulator and class of business,” Berner said. “For example, it is widely viewed that the May 2018 rollback of certain Dodd-Frank provisions fell far short of unwinding the heightened regulatory framework for financial institutions that was put in place following the global credit crisis.”

In addition, ever-evolving cyber attacks and the rise of cryptocurrency represent blind spots in regulatory oversight, and as these trends evolve, they will challenge financial institutions to ensure their cybersecurity and cryptocurrency activities don’t fall afoul of regulators who are likewise trying to keep up.

Enforcement actions brought around these emerging risks may draw stakeholder lawsuits soon after and represent a significant professional and management liability risk. To stay a step ahead, here are the regulatory trends financial institutions should watch:

Some Regulators Scale Back, but the SEC Remains Vigilant

Marc Berner, U.S. Financial Institutions Product Lead, Allied World

Regulatory enforcement activity has varied slightly from agency to agency since the 2016 presidential election. A November 2018 research report by law firm Winston & Strawn reported that bank enforcement activity had declined 20% since January 2017, compared to the previous 20 months.

“When you look at some of the banking regulators — the FDIC, the OCC, the CFPB, the Federal Reserve — there’s been a decline in enforcement actions,” Berner said.

The SEC, however, remains as vigilant as ever. After a modest 4% drop from 2016 to 2017, overall SEC enforcement activity was up 8.8% in 2018. In particular, actions against investment advisors and securities broker/dealers rose sharply.

Overall, hopes of a more lenient regulatory environment have gone and likely will continue to go unfulfilled. But this hasn’t changed the way that U.S. financial institutions do business or approach risk management.

“It’s important to recognize that there hasn’t been a correlating diminishment of institutions’ preparedness,” Berner said. “We haven’t come across a risk where anyone’s decreased their spending and resource allocation to audit and compliance because of a perceived lack of regulatory enforcement.”

Emerging Cyber Regulations Will Raise the Bar on Compliance

In the cybersecurity world, the regulatory enforcement narrative looks slightly different.

“There has not been a lot of activity in the cybersecurity practices area,” Berner said. “Enforcement activity across various regulators at the federal level has been inconsistent.”

One notable exception, however, is the $1 million fine that the SEC levied against investment brokerage firm Voya Financial Advisors Inc. after a 2016 breach. Over a six-day period, scammers called Voya’s customer support line impersonating various company contractors, requesting to have their passwords reset. Using the new passwords, the hackers were able to create new user accounts, infiltrate the corporate network and eventually access the personal information of 5,600 customers.

According to the SEC’s order, Voya’s “failure to terminate the intruders’ access stemmed from weaknesses in its cybersecurity procedures, some of which had been exposed during prior similar fraudulent activity.” The agency charged Voya with violating the Safeguards Rule and the Identity Theft Red Flags Rule, which together are intended to protect customers from unauthorized access to their personally identifiable information (PII) and subsequent identity theft.

“This was the first time the agency leveraged the identity-theft rule as a tool to bring an enforcement action, and could be a leading indicator that companies should be aware more actions are likely to come in the future,” Berner said.

State-level action has generally been more aggressive on the cyber front. “State regulators are not necessarily impacted by high profile federal politics, so they’ve had more freedom to pursue cases against financial institutions following a breach,” Berner said.

The New York State Department of Financial Services, for example, released a set of comprehensive cybersecurity rules in 2017. These require all covered institutions to implement a detailed cybersecurity plan and enact a cybersecurity policy, designate a chief information security officer and create an ongoing reporting system for cybersecurity events.

“All 50 states have some form of a breach notification law, but New York State is a good example of a strict regulatory regime for financial institutions. It’s possible more states will follow suit,” Berner said.

Crypto Currency is a New Regulatory Target

The regulatory framework surrounding cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, but various regulators do have a stake in more closely controlling this volatile asset, including the SEC, CFTC, IRS, Treasury and State agencies.

“I think the notion behind cryptocurrency when it started was that it wouldn’t be regulated. But it’s become such a big phenomenon that a lot of regulators are throwing their hat in the ring to make the investing environment safe for consumers,” Berner said.

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) have attracted the attention of the SEC, which released an investigative report in 2017 concluding that tokens sold in ICOs are considered securities, and that ICOs can be used as vehicles to raise capital or participate in investment opportunities — thus falling under the purview of SEC regulation.

The SEC also cautioned that cryptocurrency is susceptible to “increased risk of fraud and manipulation because the markets for these assets are less regulated than traditional capital markets.” So far, the commission has brought roughly a dozen enforcement actions against various ICOs.

“The SEC’s stated approach is to balance investor protection with the need to encourage innovation,” Berner said. Demand for insurance protection against the risks associated with cryptocurrency currently outstrips supply, Berner added.

Though coin offerings are the biggest challenge for underwriters, “ancillary risks associated with asset management — i.e., managing storage facilities like crypto wallets — are more insurable. That’s where brokers have been more successful putting some capacity together,” he said.

Leverage Insurer Expertise to Address Emerging Risk

What does all of this mean for financial institutions as they try to fulfill their obligations to both customers and stakeholders while remaining in compliance in the face of new and emerging risks? The answer may lie in choosing an insurance partner with demonstrated expertise in financial services’ management liability exposures and a history of adaptability.

“The financial institutions business can be volatile. The credit crisis years have produced a lot of loss activity, and the cyclical nature of economics presents a difficult risk environment in the FI space,” Berner said. “For that reason, Allied World came into the market taking a very measured approach. Our strategy has always been to act conservatively and expand our product offerings as we grow, which we feel is the best way to adjust to shifting exposures.”

Allied World entered the FI management and professional liability space with its Side A DIC policy, but has continually updated the product to react to emerging risks. “We’ve revised that policy, called Executive ForceField®, four times to make sure that we’re on the leading edge of terms and conditions,” Berner said.

The insurer also has a broad appetite. “There are very few classes of business we won’t look at,” Berner said.

Claims coordination helps underwriters stay abreast of how emerging exposures impact the liability landscape and existing policies. “We also work closely with claims leaders across various departments — including our cyber practice — to get their insight on how various exposures interact and overlap. We have a vastly experienced claim staff,” Berner said.

This information is provided as a general overview for agents and brokers. Coverage will be underwritten by an insurance subsidiary of Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, GmbH, a Fairfax company (“Allied World”). Such subsidiaries currently carry an A.M. Best rating of “A” (Excellent), a Moody’s rating of “A3” (Good) and a Standard & Poor’s rating of “A-” (Strong), as applicable. Coverage is offered only through licensed agents and brokers. Actual coverage may vary and is subject to policy language as issued. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Risk management services are provided or arranged through AWAC Services Company, a member company of Allied World.

This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Allied World. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

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