Integro Insurance Brokers went from zero to 50, that is $50 million, in near record time. In its first full calendar year of operation, the newly formed broker that focuses on the biggest, most complex risks--and the largest clients--seems to be off to a fast start.
And CEO Roger Egan has no intention of slowing down, predicting that revenues for the firm should double during 2007.
Integro, formed by a group of equity investors including insurance industry veteran Robert Clements, raised $300 million out of the box. It then launched an aggressive recruiting campaign, attracting experienced brokers from the largest firms.
By the beginning of 2007, Integro had more than 400 employees, including 175 brokers, and offices in four U.S. cities, Europe, Canada and Bermuda. Egan and his colleague Peter Garvey, who is president, both came from Marsh after the change in top management there in the wake of the Eliot Spitzer investigations. Clements himself is also a former Marsh executive.
In last year's research for the Power Brokers, risk executives expressed initial skepticism about how the new firm would fare, often wondering aloud whether Integro had the staying power to really compete against Marsh, Aon and Willis. That questioning is now gone and, Egan reports, the new firm has handled assignments for more than 250 clients. "We're on track, and the outlook is for us to double our revenues this year," Egan says.
Most of the assignments come from blue-chip companies like HCA, General Electric, Unisys and the former Union Carbide, now Praxair. "I think we have the strongest health-care book in the market," Egan says.
Part of the reason for Integro's initial success is summed up by a top risk executive at a large Midwestern firm: "We talked with a half-dozen brokers, and only the Integro people had some really new ideas. That's why they got an assignment from us."
This may be an even better year for the company because some clients were clearly reluctant to make a change on the heels of the departure of a key broker at a competing firm.
One unexpected development in the marketplace is that Integro, without the huge overhead of the very largest firms, has been perceived as aggressive, even in pricing its services. It has been able to buy effective and robust back-office systems, Egan points out, and doesn't suffer from the overhang of older legacy systems.
"They don't have to pay for huge consulting operations or a big bureaucracy and extensive worldwide brokerage services. We get the expertise but without many of the costs associated with the big firms," a Fortune 100 risk manager says.
In a move that echoed Clements tenure at MMC Capital, Integro announced the formation of a new, Bermuda-based primary property/casualty company called Ironshore Inc. late last year.
"We conceived the idea for the new facility here at Integro," Egan says. He worked with Integro President Peter Garvey and Gary Marchitello, the head of Integro's property practice, along with Clements. "Bob and John Clements raised the equity, and we got it up and running." Today Integro has no direct affiliation with Ironshore, which writes primary property, mostly wind and earthquake coverage in the Caribbean and Southeast U.S. coastal regions.
Clements and his equity partners raised more than $1 billion in equity in the new operation. It opened for business in January.
As Clements explains it, part of the reason for the startup was to respond to the needs of their clients who had found that primary property/catastrophe coverage was difficult to obtain at the levels needed.
Egan says that the new facility is open to any broker.
JACK ROBERTS is editor in chief of Risk & Insurance®.
February 1, 2007
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