Business Guidance / Featured

Relationship Spotlight: WSMT Insurance Agency

Like any business, insurance firms need capital to grow. However, the complexities related to insurance agency business models can often steer lenders away from this type of client. Many times, if an owner of an insurance agency walks into a bank, they will be met with challenges since their business does not have traditional collateral for a loan. This makes it vital to work with a lender who understands how insurance agencies operate and can assess the ability to provide financing accordingly.

There are two main reasons that insurance agencies seek out loans: 1) expansions/acquisitions and 2) succession planning. Our relationship with Marty and Denise Bramhall at WSMT, an insurance agency serving York County and the surrounding areas, illustrates how Univest can help insurance agencies finance growth plans and long-term succession planning.

 

Expansions and acquisitions

Extensive consolidation is happening in the insurance industry right now. For agencies like WSMT that are looking to grow, it is imperative to have access to capital to be able to take advantage of acquisition opportunities. Over the years, acquisitions have been an important part of WSMT’s growth strategy. They have been able to navigate this successfully thanks to a strong relationship with dedicated lenders who understand agency valuation and how to assess revenue based on insurance premiums.

“Trust and the relationship with Peter, Chau and the team are what won us over at Univest. They have a specialized understanding of our business, how premiums, cash positions and our revenue work, so we can ultimately continue to grow,” explains Denise.

 

Succession planning

Working with a trusted bank partner that is knowledgeable about the insurance industry can help establish a succession plan that not only meets the needs of the owners but provides continuity for the agency and removes the hurdle of financing for potential buyers. One option that has worked well for WSMT is to sell to employees, in this case, two of its top-performing producers.

Marty and Denise explained, “We feel it is important to sell within the WSMT family. Thanks to our strong relationship with Univest we are able to work with the team to figure out how we can find a financing solution to make that possible. While we probably could earn more by selling to a larger insurance firm, we feel it is best for the clients to continue working with their trusted team and it is a well-deserved opportunity for our top producers to become business owners and continue to impact not only our clients, but the local community.”

The team at Univest is dedicated to working with clients to understand their desired approach to succession planning and then providing a plan for financing to make it happen. For example, by selling part of the business over a defined timeline, the employees will be able to build equity to ultimately complete the transition. It also eases the ownership transition allowing for seamless business continuity while also setting the sellers, like Marty and Denise, up for future retirement.

 

Additional income stream

In the case of Marty and Denise, Univest has also been able to help with their commercial real estate purchases. These properties offer an additional long-term income stream for when Marty and Denise eventually retire and serve as a great diversification tool for their portfolio. Univest’s commercial real estate experience provided a creative solution for the Bramhalls and WSMT.

“I have a personal interest in commercial real estate, so we wanted to add additional diversity to our investments. With Univest’s knowledge in the CRE space as well, we were able to find a solution that fit within our needs by owning multiple buildings and having a partially owner-occupied space. This will be an important part of our plan for retirement,” Marty shares.

There are many factors at play when an insurance agency needs access to capital. Univest’s experience working with these firms allows us to navigate those nuances and serve as a trusted partner as agency owners look to expand, begin succession planning or add real estate to their portfolios. To see what’s possible for the future of your insurance business, contact us at 877-723-5571 or https://www.univest.net/commercial-banking/business-financing.

 

Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC, Equal Opportunity and SBA Preferred Lender.