Size Matters

So says Neil Morrison, CEO of HKMB Hub, one of the country's largest firms

By almost any measure–revenue, premiums, or number of employees–Hub is one of the very largest brokerages in Canada. But being the biggest is about more than bragging rights, says Neil Morrison, president and CEO of HKMB Hub and Hub Ontario. It’s a key part of what makes Hub successful in delivering the best results for its clients.

“When you place $100 million of premium with an insurance company, that’s a lot different than placing $10 million,” says Morrison. “There’s a lot you can do with that leverage” in the areas of terms, pricing, responsiveness and claims handling, he explains.

Neil Morrison CEO of HKMB Hub

HKMB Hub was formed when Morrison and his three partners in HKMB sold the firm to the Chicago-based Hub group in 2008 (see the cover story of the April 2010 issue of Canadian Insurance Top Broker). Today, Hub has over 100 locations across the country and upwards of 1,700 employees generating revenues of $250 million on approximately $1.95 billion in premiums. The company has robust practices in areas including professional liability for law firms, property developers and managers, and universities and private schools. “In each one of these categories, we strive to be number 1 or number 2 in the country,” notes Morrison.

In every vertical Hub enters, it aims to become the first go-to resource for any risk and insurance issue that professional community may be facing, explains Morrison. “We typically segment all of our commercial business, for example.” Using this method to uncover industry expertise where the company is already writing substantial amounts in premiums, “[we] formalize that and put some resources in it and improve our offering and focus that on a team and use that as leverage to go and credential ourselves for new opportunities.”

Professional Development

Another aspect of striving to be the best is making sure the company is the best place to work, says Morrison.

“The best place to work means that if you’re working for us at a certain job level, your workspace is going to be significantly better than if you were at one of our competitors. Everything from the square footage in your cubicle to the compensation.”

In addition to reimbursing tuition fees for courses taken towards professional designations, the company has on-site learning centres in its Toronto, Oakville and Windsor offices and offers lunch-and-learn sessions almost daily that can be used towards RIBO accreditation. “Hub colleagues should easily be able to double or triple the continuing education requirements our regulators require by attending a few every month–and enjoy a free lunch at the same time.”

Competition and Consolidation

Like many brokerages in the country, Hub has grown and gained higher levels of success through acquisitions and consolidations. It’s a trend that Morrison only sees accelerating. Last fall, for instance, Hub acquired Mones & Associates in Western Canada and the company expects to close a deal to purchase Toronto-based Sinclair Cockburn this month. For one thing, “bigger firms have better resources to train and develop young people who are coming into the business,” he comments.

Hub is also investing considerable resources in online options for those who want more flexibility in how they purchase insurance. “You’re going to be able to buy your insurance on Amazon,” Morrison speculates. “The pace at which people are embracing the reduced frictional efforts of transacting business is growing exponentially.”

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the September 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

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