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Top Insurance Broker, No. 5: Hub International Ltd.



2020 brokerage revenues: $ 2.70 billion

Percentage increase (decrease): 12.8%

Hub International Ltd. has not refrained from buying smaller competitors despite the restrictions and other barriers to business that COVID-19 introduced in the pandemic.

As it continues its year-long acquisition strategy, it has expanded the range of companies they buy, said its top executive.

"The reality is that in 2020 we made 65 acquisitions, which was really in line with what we did in previous years," says Hub CEO Marc Cohen. Compared to 70 acquisitions in 2019, 66 in 2018 and 52 in 2017.

The deal helped the Chicago-based Hub grow its brokerage revenues to $ 2.70 billion last year, an increase of 1

2.8% over 2019, and it is still the world's fifth largest broker.

Hub is still looking for strong growth companies with strong leadership in various geographic areas in North America, such as the southeastern United States and Canada, to expand its reach to places where it has no business and to strengthen existing companies, Mr. Sa Cohen.

In addition, "We are expanding our focus on what we are looking for in our acquisition strategy," including adding retirement planning and employee benefits in Canada, Cohen said.

Timothy J. Cunningham, CEO of Optis Partners LLC, a Chicago-based investment banking and financial consulting firm, noted that Hub is one of the most acquired brokers.

"There is so much competition in the traditional retail distribution space that the ability to grow" in the current M&A environment "may not be as easy as it used to be, so you expand your product and think a little," he said.

Mr. Cohen said the Hub continues to "focus on creating what we call a boundless organization" so that the "best resources and experts and specialists are available to our employees and our customers wherever they are in North America."

As part of the strategy, Hub is investing resources to expand its services to various business sectors, Cohen said.

"We have seen over the last three or four years that when our employees are specialized, they usually produce more business than those who do not," he said.

In addition to continuing its acquisition strategy during the pandemic, Hub actively recruited staff, Cohen said.

Key hires over the past year include: Bryan Davis, Chicago-based Deputy CEO and Chief Human Resources Strategy and Business Development Leader, who leads Hub's Transaction Line Growth Strategy, and has previously been with the United Services Automobile Association; Philadelphia-based Pete Reilly, formerly Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. chief, who joined Hub to lead the North American health care specialization; and David Cloward, a former Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE executive who joined Hub to lead his entertainment and sports specialist in Los Angeles.

During the pandemic, Hub has relied on the business culture it has built as it has grown, which has kept employees in line with its digital features, Cohen said.

"At Hub, we started investing in digital marketing capabilities many years ago," and the investment has shown itself during the pandemic, he said.

Michael Dion, vice president and senior analyst at Moody & # 39 ;s Investors Service in New York, said that the Hub "has really stood out since the pandemic began. When everything was closed temporarily, they could still generate not only profitability but "fairly decent growth."

Hub is majority owned by San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman LLC, which bought the brokerage in 2013. A Toronto-based private equity firm, Altas Partners LP, acquired a minority stake in the broker in 2018.

“We are very pleased with our current owner and we think they are also very happy with us, says Cohen.

Mr. Dion said, "Their ownership structure right now is probably a good one in the sense that … you have the ownership of venture capital along with some good employee ownership as well." This provides "a good balance as long as they can generate a good cash flow, which they do internally, and then (they) have the capital markets to raise money if they want to buy," he said. [19659004] Hub's role in the curing market has been to "educate customers on why prices are rising, be diligent, and provide optional program structures and continue to be advisory," Cohen said.

"There is a lot of stress today, and I think we can help alleviate some of that stress by being a thoughtful, empathetic, trustworthy counselor."

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