The equipment leasing and asset finance market in North America is highly competitive, but for the UK-based specialist insurance provider Acquis, establishing a presence in this critical market is the next natural step for growth. Brian Madison, Acquis’ managing director for North America, who is leading the expansion, believes there is a “massive market opportunity” in the asset finance market in the US.
Acquis specializes in insurance for equipment leasing and asset finance companies, aiming to reduce portfolio risk and generate significant non-interest-bearing fee income. Their products provide software, resources, and expertise to ensure leased assets are fully protected from the start of the finance agreement. The company launched its products and services in the US last month with the intent to serve all 50 states, and a launch in Canada is also planned “within a year,” according to Madison.
“We’re definitely going to be in all 50 states, and we plan to move to Canada as well. It has to be staged,” Madison said. “We already have partners lined up [in Canada]. So, we want to get the US operational and make sure we’re getting the deals and managing them well.”
Since its inception in the UK in 2009, Acquis has grown to support more than 120 finance and leasing businesses in 17 countries across Europe, with a customer base that includes global brands like Xerox, BNP Paribas, and Siemens. Acquis’ US operation will be headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Dallas, Texas, and its book of business will include a wide range of assets across industries such as IT and office equipment, agriculture, manufacturing, and renewable energy.
Madison spoke to Insurance Business about entering the competitive asset finance market in the US, describing it as a “duopoly” of highly embedded players. He emphasized Acquis’ success in entering new markets, demonstrated competency, and the company’s value proposition as key factors driving their expansion. Madison mentioned that global customers requested Acquis to enter the North American marketplace and serve them there.
“It’s somewhat of a natural evolution for the company. We’ve developed a proficiency in this market, and we’re now considered a market leader in many respects,” Madison explained.
He highlighted custom solutions and exceptional customer service as Acquis’ differentiators in the market. “I think we have a very solid value proposition,” he said. “We deliver superior customer service, tailored insurance solutions to meet lessors’ needs, and advanced systems capabilities. We’re independent of any single insurance insurer, so we have the flexibility to give the lessors the right program.”
Acquis’ entry into the North American market was propelled by its acquisition by NSM Insurance Group, a global specialty insurance firm, earlier this year. The support from its parent firm, backed by private equity from the Carlyle Group, facilitated Acquis’ swift launch into the market. Madison expressed confidence that Acquis’ extensive experience in equipment leasing and asset finance will pave the way for a smooth Canadian expansion.
“So, you’ve got NSM’s resources, expertise in the US market, and licenses across all the states, combined with Acquis’ expertise in this specialty marketplace with only a few players,” Madison said. “It all came together in a fortunate way, and we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Madison also emphasized that Canada has a slightly different regulatory environment, requiring a different approach to go to market. “We have the proficiency to be in many countries. So, it’s not a huge hurdle for us to be able to step into new markets,” he said.