Exciting future for Resilium Network as part of Ardonagh

Cashed-up and confident, Resilium has set bold growth targets for the next five years and has a myriad of ways to deliver on them.

The previously Suncorp-owned authorised representative (AR) network went through a successful management buy-out in 2019, before unforeseen complications with the deal’s funding reared up.

Those issues were consigned to history when early this year the UK-based insurance group Ardonagh acquired a majority stake in the business and positioned Resilium at the centre of its Australian growth ambitions.

Ardonagh has since established Ethos Broking Australia, with former Resilium leader Adrian Kitchin moving across to become Ethos Chief Executive.

Former Director Broking Ben Hastie has stepped up as Resilium Managing Director, to steer the network into a new era.

Mr Hastie, who had been with insurer Chubb for 11 years, was recruited by Mr Kitchin in 2016, and tells Insurance News he is delighted he made the switch.

He believes that while Ethos is pursuing brokerage acquisitions new opportunities will open up for Resilium too.

“Adrian realised pretty quickly that he and [Ardonagh Australia Chairman] Paul Lynam are going to be very, very busy doing the Ethos thing, and asked me to manage Resilium, although he’s still here for me to bounce stuff off.”

The backing of Ardonagh makes Resilium an even more attractive proposition for current and future ARs, he says, and opens up huge potential for it to expand and acquire businesses under the Resilium Partners offering.

Resilium has 140 practices and 600 individual ARs, operating Australia-wide. Most ARs are independently owned and trade under their own name but, thanks largely to the Ardonagh deal, Resilium is able to buy a stake in some.

“Ardonagh became very attractive as far as having a big war chest to acquire a majority stake, or 100%, of ARs that were ready for retirement or to sell their business, and therefore we would not lose them from the network,” Mr Hastie says.

“That’s an ongoing progression.”

Acquisitions under Resilium Partners were already part of the plan, but Ardonagh has turbo-charged this side of the business, as well as making it more appealing to traditional ARs.

“Acquisitions were going to happen anyway, just on a much smaller scale,” Mr Hastie says.

“We wouldn’t have had the borrowing capacity to do too many. We would have made one or two a year.

“Whereas now, as long as the deals stack up, we are not limited by borrowing capacity because we have this global partner behind us.”

But acquisitions will primarily be driven by the network’s ARs and their needs, he says.

“First and foremost we are an AR network, and this is a ‘nice to have’ additional service.

“We are basically providing a succession plan. When they want to sell, it’s not a hard process, we know their business intimately.

“The ARs that don’t wish to sell… are just as important to us now and in the future.”

Mr Hastie says Resilium’s ARs are a tightknit group, who also embrace newcomers. And the network’s focus on providing more than just a licence is a major draw.

“The origins stem back to AMP General Insurance days and some ARs have been together all that time – 20 or 30 years. They are lifelong friendships. Once you’re in you’re in. But the older established ARs don’t keep to themselves, they open up and embrace new people. It’s a family feel.

“We provide a variety of services other than the licence. We are really strong on training and education, we’ve got an internal website that hosts a lot of videos that we’ve done.

“We also have a strong leads program. We receive leads and we give them out to ARs free of charge. That’s a strong attraction to the network.

“Our mantra for some time now has been growth through professionalism. That’s why we talk about the education being so important to us.

“We feel that the way to differentiate going forward is to have the most technically advanced, knowledgeable and experienced ARs in the country.

“We talk about them being the trusted adviser to their clients on all risk matters. That’s the best way to drive retention, to be someone that the small or medium-sized businesses can’t do without.”

Currently hitting about $500 million in gross written premium, Resilium wants to be at $1 billion in five years’ time.

“We basically want to double the size of the network,” Mr Hastie says. “That includes some Ethos purchases as well; it’s the whole group.”

And further down the track, expansion could go beyond Australia’s borders.

“We’ve flirted with the idea of New Zealand and beyond but at this stage, particularly with COVID, it would be way too hard.

“But definitely, down the medium to longer-term track, we will look at New Zealand and perhaps even Asia.

“Once you have that structure running like a well-oiled machine it can be replicated in other regions.”

Insurance News Magazine | October 2021