March 22, 2021
Acquinex, a specialist financial lines Managing General Agent, is bringing a portfolio of highly complementary strengths and attributes to PIB Group Ltd (‘PIB’). The acquisition of the Acquinex group of companies, who specialise in providing bespoke mergers & acquisitions (‘M&A’) insurance products for small to mid-market deals across Europe, will see PIB take major steps in its evolution.
PIB is making strides in building expertise in specialist segments that are poorly represented yet demonstrate attractive growth characteristics. The Group’s international aspirations are also gathering pace by targeting businesses and teams in Europe which complement its existing products and expertise.
The Acquinex group boasts all those essential ingredients, which are perfectly aligned to PIB’s strategy and culture of collaboration.
Particular investment highlights for PIB include ongoing internationalisation by entering the Nordics for the first time, nurturing a talented team with deep underwriting expertise, as well as taking a new direction with distribution and the financial lines market. This is also the first European financial lines MGA purchased by PIB, which signals the start of more that will be considered.
Ryan Brown, Chief Financial Officer for PIB Group commented: “I’d like to give a very warm welcome to everyone at Acquinex, another highly specialist firm to be joining PIB Group. Our new colleagues are a fantastic addition, who have impressed us with their bespoke approach to underwriting along with a real depth in technical expertise and knowledge which is exceptional for a business of this size and scale. Their strategic ambitions for internationalisation match our own and we look forward to investing into other countries and regions, as well as extending into other financial product lines.”
Starting-up in 2017
Formed in 2017 and headquartered in London, Acquinex differentiates itself by specialising in underwriting Warranty & Indemnity and Tax Liability insurance for UK and European SME transactions. It also focuses heavily on streamlining processes and using technology to generate efficiencies in underwriting.
The business has enjoyed rapid growth and gained recognition as the market leader for SME transaction insurance, thanks to the drive of its two founders Chris Thompson and Chris Jackson and the in-house experts they have hired.
Successes to date include insuring over 700 deals, of which around 300 were in 2020. Plus, a strong focus on service and offering a pragmatic approach to underwriting has contributed to establishing a large volume of repeat clients and brokers. Through PIB, Acquinex can accelerate ambitions for expansion and grow other business lines connected to the M&A cycle.
Chris Jackson, Managing Director (Operations) for Acquinex commented: “We are delighted by the success of Acquinex in a relatively short space of time and thrilled to be in a position to become part of a larger organisation through PIB Group. There is a real alignment of interests for further geographical expansion and developing our product lines thanks to PIB’s investment and financial support. The fact that this fits with the broader strategy of PIB is what makes this a great partnership.”
Acquinex has assembled a pan-European team with a headcount of 20 serving clients from London, Frankfurt, Warsaw and Copenhagen offices. Their multiple locations mean that PIB will have a presence in Denmark for the first time and embed further into Germany and Poland following the purchase of two broking businesses in 2020 though WDB and Marx Re-Insurance Brokers.
Better service to the SME market
Prompting the formation of Acquinex was a shared vision in filling a gap to better service the smaller end of the market. The two also have complementary backgrounds in underwriting and broking, which has led to offering an attractive proposition to clients.
Chris Thompson, Managing Director (Underwriting) for Acquinex, commented: “Chris and I had shared insights and opinions on the market opportunity, and how to best serve it. Chris saw it from a broker perspective, and I could see how the SME market could deliver a much better risk portfolio for carriers and be an attractive niche that was being underserved by existing insurers. Our skills massively complement each other, and this has enabled us to develop an M&A solution that is attractive and different for all our key stakeholders. Our different backgrounds have enabled us to hire leading experts from both within and outside of the W&I insurance market so that we can provide an SME focussed solution through local underwriting experts that is not available anywhere else in the market.”
In the running of the business, Thompson leads on the underwriting, risk selection and approach, while Jackson takes the reins with the corporate functions.
Talent, technology and carrier partnerships
Despite their shared leadership role, both place emphasis on talent and technology as big contributors to what has been achieved so far. From the outset, they invested in attracting senior hires and market leading professionals with considerable market presence and networks.
The diverse team holds a wealth of experience spanning global roles in international firms as well as a broad spectrum of professional qualifications in their fields such as law, compliance, tax and accountancy. They currently boast 150 years of combined M&A expertise and take pride in their individual bespoke underwriting approach.
Thompson and Jackson also made a significant investment in technology to create a seamless underwriting experience and built strong partnerships with insurers who have backed them from the start and will be key partners moving forward.
All of this has proved an effective model of establishing local hubs run by local experts, so that colleagues can underwrite from their territories rather than all out of London. Brokers and M&A practitioners across Europe can therefore access W&I insurance without the need for the traditional London market minimum premiums.
Jackson commented: “Our growth is very much thanks to our talented team who have given us 110% energy and commitment. From the outset we wanted local leaders in those countries with the right technology to enable them to do what they need to do. We encourage a culture of entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of ownership so that our people feel empowered to make local decisions. I would like to say a big thank you to our fantastic team and also to our insurer partners who have backed us so far. We look forward to furthering those partnerships in the next stage of our journey.”
Life with PIB and their underwriting stable
As 2021 unfolds, the Acquinex team have a lot to look forward to while coming under the fold of PIB and working alongside its underwriting stable. Plans include broadening PIB’s MGA offering though other financial lines and transaction related insurance solutions, plus accelerating the rollout of more hubs across Europe.
Ryan Brown commented: “This up-and-coming business has so much potential which presents exciting collaboration opportunities for everyone. We look forward to harnessing the team’s energy to take Acquinex to the next level which in turn will support PIB’s long-term ambitions and MGA offering.”
This is PIB’s third acquisition of 2021, following on from UK & Ireland Insurance Services Ltd and Element Hinton (Insurance Brokers) Ltd. It is also PIB’s first acquisition post formal completion of new investment from funds advised by private equity firm Apax.