Canadian Underwriter

Hub’s take on the merger between P&C and employment benefits

January 15, 2019   by Jason Contant

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As it continues to expand its employee benefits solutions, Hub International is training its more than 4,000 employees in Canada to articulate that it is not just a property and casualty brokerage.

“There’s still a training and development and learning curve with… helping our property and casualty people speak the language of employee benefits,” Tina Osen, president of Hub International Canada, told Canadian Underwriter Friday. “Not be experts, but be confident enough to introduce it in the dialogue with their customers. It’s really learning that value proposition and having it become a constant part of their vernacular so that the clients are aware we have this broad sweeping capability now.”

Chicago-based Hub International acquired Vancouver-based TRG Group Benefits and Pensions Inc. on Jan. 8, its 13th such acquisition since last year. Since launching its initiative last year to expand its employee benefits Canadian solution, Hub has acquired 13 Canadian brokerages, increased fee revenue to more than $50 million, established seven new offices and created more than 100 jobs. With the goal of achieving more than $100 million in commission fees by 2021, Hub anticipates opening more than 10 additional new offices and creating at least 100 more jobs.

With 170 offices in Canada, Hub’s employee benefits Canadian solution includes voluntary benefits, health and performance, cost management consulting, group retirement services, employee communications, third party administration services, data analytics, and compliance and governance.

The brokerage is also building a common technology platform so that its employee benefits and other lines are able to talk to each other, Osen reported. “It’s about that complete offering,” she said. “We had looked at our business in the U.S. that has a very significant employee benefits platform and just felt that there was a tremendous opportunity to springboard off of what we built in the U.S. and bring those capabilities into the Canadian marketplace.”

Last July, Hub International announced its corporate strategy to assemble best-in-class capabilities and entrepreneurial talent across Canada to develop a complete employee benefits solution. “We definitely felt that in Canada, there was a void in terms of bringing large brokerage solutions to those mid-market businesses that we have in Canada,” Osen said, referring to companies with between 20 and 500 employees.

“The Canadian landscape before, in our opinion, on the P&C side provided solutions for the large clients, but didn’t in the mid-market space. It’s really about developing a shared service model that enables our customers to have access to the best-in-class solutions in the employee benefits space, no matter where they sit geographically in the Canadian footprint.”

Osen said areas of opportunity in the future include building out Hub’s pension and retirement consulting capabilities. “We’ll continue to build out some of our services around insurtech solutions and we’re in dialogue with some of the solutions there as well as some of the actuarial services and human resources and disability management,” Osen said. “All that being said, we don’t buy for the sake of buying. We are only going to do it if it’s a complementary culture and also enhances in a meaningful way the value proposition that we can bring to our customers.”

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