Broking success: Adam Scott, Amicus Insurance Solution’s founding director and owner

Adam Scott, Amicus

Going for growth: Amicus Insurance Solution’s founding director and owner Adam Scott tells Insurance Age about how his firm is breaking into the North England market

When did Amicus start?

January 2010, I started it with Richard Evans.

How have you found the first nine, nearly 10 years?

We are learning all of the time, we prioritise our image. Amicus is Latin for friendship, me and Richard are very close friends and that’s what our company is built on.

How do you feel about consolidation in the market?

Typically what they do is they start shuffling people around and people start getting made redundant. All that does is unsettle people. And when consolidators come, all they want is money. They’re looking at the bottom line. These private equity firms come in and the first thing they look at is who’s bringing in numbers and if anyone is not making any money.

What about your own firm, any acquisitions or purchase offers?

We get phone calls every week from people trying to buy us, but they don’t want to pay the money. You know Amicus is not for sale, folks. I’ll tell you the reason why. I’m 41 and I’ve said 55 is the cut-off age for working. I’ve got such a good company and such a good image. We look sharp and I’m proud of where we are and what we’ve achieved. I have thought about it, but to go and build what I’ve done again would take ages, maybe another 10 years.

We don’t compete on price, I always see things in this order; service, cover, then price. I don’t do it the other way around

Do you think you will make acquisitions in the future?

Maybe we’ll acquire a very small firm. But the problem you’ve got is that it’s a gamble. I’ve known a couple of people who have bought a broker for good money, then the directors of the firm they bought went and took the business because they had the relationships. That left them with a load of baggage. So we are planning to grow organically. At the moment, I think we’re going to get to between £2-2.5m over the next 12 months in commission income.

When do you think you may be looking to buy something?

We would be looking to buy in the next few years. However, at the moment no one knows what is going on with Brexit.

How do you feel about your competition?

We are basically a southern broker. What I have found, which is quite interesting, is it used to be quite hard to take business from brokers in the north. People in the north seem to tend to like dealing with local people. But we’ve been getting into a lot more business up there recently. It has traditionally been quite difficult to pick up business past Birmingham if you’re from down south.

Adam Scott, Amicus

▶ Why do you think that is?

It is a different culture, but it’s also about not getting complacent and service is key. We don’t present any terms last minute, we are presenting terms two weeks prior to renewal and because we’ve done such a good job, the customer doesn’t actually get anyone else involved.

What about local competition?

Generally we never come against brokers that are in our local area. I don’t know why because they’re also in construction. Although there are two brokers we have a non-compete agreement with as they are friends. But, anyway we’re going national now, we just want to avoid opening offices everywhere, as soon as you do that it’s a nightmare.

We don’t compete on price, I always see things in this order; service, cover, then price. I don’t do it the other way around. When I go into a meeting I sometimes ask are you just interested in price and then say ‘if you’re just interested in that, then we’re not the broker for you’. Yet I also often get clients who just say ‘oh, you brokers, you just want my money’.

What are the reasons for this?

I think some clients see it [buying insurance] as a burden. I’ve got some clients that have a turnover of about £15m who think they don’t need certain covers. I have to insist. An example is directors & officers liability (D&O), the reason why a lot of clients don’t buy it is because brokers don’t always explain it properly but a D&O policy is probably one of the most important policies a business needs.

How do you feel about the regulation of the market?

I think we have to be regulated in order to protect the customer. There should be oversight and someone should be watching what we’re doing otherwise people cut corners. There’s nothing wrong with being regulated. Everyone needs to be regulated.

What networks do you work with?

We have close ties with Compass and the network has been good for us. If you’re starting out and you want to get onto a panel with all of the insurers and get support it’s a good network.

How do you feel about the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba)?

Biba is useful, I use Biba to see the financial security of insurers and report the details I find back to clients. I’ve won business by printing the financials of a provider from Biba’s website.

What does the future hold for Amicus?

Our aim is to grow and I’d like for us to have four or five million in commission income. It’s hard to not keep growing because the only way we grow is if we get to another level and that will mean we take more staff on. One thing I do when I go to things like Compass Network, or any networking events, is go looking for staff.

Do you think you will expand to more business lines?

Maybe life sciences, things to do with laboratories and stuff like that. That area is quite a niche market and hard to break into. One of the areas we might have an opportunity to get into is schools, as we see them being built left, right and centre. I also have experience of the schools market because I used to do it at Giles. We do a lot of construction work on schools and have some decent sized clients. But at the moment we’re also paying attention to the business we’ve already got.

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