For Neal Lowe, MD of the Needham Group, there’s a common thread to the progression of the broking business over the last 20 years – a healthy respect for identity. Since he became MD, the firm has completed nine acquisitions, he said, in a recent podcast with IB Talk, and connecting each of these different deals is that Needham has retained their identities.
“Our model is very unique in the fact that when we acquire a business, we retain their trading name, we retain their location, we retain their staff, we retain everything that makes that broker great, i.e. its locality and the fact that it has got local relationships with business and individuals in that area,” he said. “And we think that’s where the value is.
“Clients deal with brokers, and they deal with broking firms because they have dealt with them for a long period. They trust that relationship, they trust that advisor. So I’m very much of the opinion that if we’re going to do an acquisition, we keep that as part of the setup. That once we’ve acquired [them], we keep that brand name and the staff in situ so that, for the client, there is very little change.”
Lowe has seen first-hand how important it is for the people that make up local communities to be able to avail of trusted insurance advice. It’s a significant advantage for a local business owner or a member of the general public to have access to an advisor. The insurance market is seeing a push towards encouraging customers to purchase insurance online, he said, but the fact remains that there are areas where people need greater support.
“With some of the stuff that we do and that our clients need support with, you’re not going to get that answer online,” he said. “You need to turn to a local expert who’s going to be able to guide you through the technicalities and… guide you on what you need to do. And I think that’s where we stand out as a local proposition – that ability for people to come into our offices, talk to our staff and get some help and advice.”