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When Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. purchased the Boston-based privately held commercial insurance and benefits brokerage Risk Strategies Co. in June, industry veteran Roger Egan joined Risk Strategies as part of the deal. Mr. Egan, previously CEO of Integro Ltd. and president of Marsh Inc., agreed to join Risk Strategy's leadership team as executive chairman. He recently spoke with Business Insurance Associate Editor Bill Kenealy about his plans to help Risk Strategies expand its services and national footprint.
Q: What are the near-term and long-term goals for Risk Strategies?
A: In the near term, we want to grow aggressively, both by acquisition and organically, to flesh out our national footprint; (and) add practices and key hires to become a truly national brokerage firm focusing on upper middle-market, smaller risk management clients with complex risks.
I believe that clients want a choice when selecting a trusted adviser. Upper middle-market and smaller risk management clients are underserved by the large brokerage houses. There is a need for a medium-sized brokerage firm whose hallmarks are quality, client service, knowledge and specialization — both by risk and by industry.
Q: What attracted you to the opportunity to join Risk Strategies?
A: I began to work with Kohlberg & Co. early last year, looking for a medium-sized brokerage firm that had a great reputation and talented professionals — one that could be a U.S. platform for growth. I visited Mike Christian, CEO and founder of (Risk Strategies), in Boston, and we quickly realized that we had a very similar strategic vision and the same ideas about the importance of culture to the success of a professional service firm.
In my mind, culture is the greatest sustainable competitive advantage in the brokerage business. I saw in Risk Strategies a company with a strong entre-preneurial culture — one that emphasizes client service and technical excellence. The colleagues at RSC are professional and knowledgeable, but they are also collaborative and collegial, smart and nice.
Q: You have said that you want to establish a greater national presence. Are you targeting specific geographies?
A: Yes. We have a strong presence in Boston and California. We would like to increase our presence in New York and Chicago right away and eventually open offices in the Southeast and the Southwest. While it is not our immediate priority, we would also like to establish our own office in London to service our clients' placements into that important marketplace.
Geography is important, but so is specialization. As we expand our national footprint and begin to operate as a virtual company, we will also deepen our expertise by risk category, such as professional liability, directors and officers, and by industry, such as the health care and private equity industries.
Q: Do you think current market conditions are conducive to acquisitive growth?
A: Yes, if one has the right culture and strategic vision.
There are more than 25,000 agents and small brokerage firms serving middle-market commercial property/casualty, benefits (and) high-net worth individuals. Further consolidation is inevitable. Many of these firms will sell to larger firms in the next five years or so.
Q: How will Risk Strategies leverage the capabilities of Kohlberg & Co.?
A: Kohlberg is a very strong financial partner. Of course they add capital, but they add so much more ... They have a reputation as a conservative, disciplined, well-managed private equity firm, second to none. RSC now has the financial wherewithal to fulfill its vision to be the high-quality, specialized, smaller alternative to the big brokerage houses.