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New MGA consolidator aims for ten acquisitions within three years

FLASH | PRO LEVEL PRIVILEGE
By Daniela Cambone | February 19 2005 04:57PM

PerformINS Canada is the latest managing general agency (MGA) consolidator on the scene.

So far it is off to a good start. It recently purchased AFG Canada (AFG), headed by Sam Albanese and it also bought Mississauga-based, Pinnacle Financial Group. Mr. Wolfe explains that it is already in talks with other MGAs but it may not be until the end of the second quarter when the next acquisition will occur.

However, Mr. Wolfe is not keen on labelling PerformINS a consolidator, a word, he feels holds a negative connotation. Rather Mr. Wolfe sees the firm as a creator of long-term economic partnerships. “We are creating an exit strategy for people looking to gradually move out of the business.”

As well, the firm is not necessarily interested in owning 100% of the MGA. “We have a formula. It can range from owning anywhere from 100% to 0%…however, in a perfect scenario we would own 50% of the business,” explains Mr. Wolfe. The MGA can also choose to keep its name, he adds..

The company’s goal is to also take a load off the MGAs’ back, says Mr. Wolfe. He explains that MGAs were originally created as marketing centres and they can now solely concentrate on this, without having to worry about the administration or technology aspects. “We take care of that. We have a software system called Advisor Exchange. It is a web-based, 24/7, state-of-the-art software system,” explains Mr. Wolfe.

PerformINS was born when Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Hammond ran into each other at a charity golf tournament last summer. With previous experience in MGA consolidation, Mr. Hammond pitched the idea to Mr. Wolfe. And this past November, the idea finally came to fruition, with AFG as its first purchase.

The Ontario-based firm then brought in a third principle, the brother of Mr. Hammond, Brian Hammond, to handle the technological aspect. Mr. Albanese also has a role with the company, says Mr. Wolfe. “He is our goodwill ambassador, our spokesperson. He will be speaking to other MGAs about our concept.”

And like other consolidators, PerformINS has a financial backer behind it: VentureLink Financial Services Innovation Fund, managed by Skylon, a wholly owned subsidiary of CI Mutual Funds.

Mr. Wolfe stresses that PerformINS remains free and is not tied to CI Mutual Funds, or any insurance company. “That is one of the things that sets us apart. We have no insurers behind us. We are independent,” emphasizes Mr. Wolfe.

Overall, explains Mr. Wolfe, “It’s not rocket science what we are doing… There is significant consolidation that has happened and will be happening in distribution. For an MGA to continue to grow their business they have to invest in technology and that is an expensive proposition… We are providing a solution for them.”

PerformINS joins the ranks of other up-and-coming consolidators, B.C.-based, Abex Value and Bridgeport Financial. Bridgeport is headed in Eastern Canada by Bernard Bissonnette, also a former Transamerica employee.

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