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Agent/broker value creation improves


Independent insurance agents and brokers posted new highs in all three major value creation categories of the Reagan Consulting organic growth and profitability survey last year, Atlanta-based Reagan Consulting reported this week.

The survey, which was launched in 2008, found that:

• Median organic growth for 2013 was 6.2%, beating 6.1% for 2012.

• EBITDA--earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization--margins jumped almost a point from to 19.3% in 2013 from 18.4% in 2012.

• Rule of 20 scores were 16.5, while the top 25 % of brokers all exceeded 20 for the first time.

Reagan Consulting uses the Rule of 20 to measure agency value creation. The Rule of 20 is the sum of an agency's organic growth rate and one-half of its EBITDA margin; if the sum equals or exceeds 20, an agency is driving strong shareholder returns, according to Reagan Consulting.

"Broker performance has progressed significantly in the last five years," said Kevin Stipe, president of Reagan Consulting, in a statement accompanying the survey results.

"It wasn't too long ago, in 2009, when brokers were shrinking organically (-1.9% median organic growth) and posting mid-single-digit Rule of 20 scores (6.9),” he said. “Agents and brokers have capitalized on a firming market, a recovering economy and new business initiatives to make large strides forward in performance and shareholder returns."

But Reagan Consulting cautioned on continued performance improvement.

"We do not necessarily think that brokers will go backwards, but we are wondering if brokers can maintain their impressive run of consistently improving results," said Mr. Stipe, who pointed out that organic growth was up just 0.1% and Rule of 20 scores just 0.4 points.

Reagan Consulting has conducted its quarterly survey of agency growth and profitability since 2008, using confidential submissions from about 140 mid-size and large agencies and brokerage firms. Roughly half of the industry's 100 largest firms participated in the most recent survey. Median revenue of the firms completing the survey is approximately $15 million, making it the industry's preeminent survey of mid-size and large privately held brokers.