In keeping with its aggressive and acquisitive nature, Fiserv Inc. announced March 6 that it had purchased Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Facilities and Services Corporation. The arrangement will allow FSC, which has thus far operated only within California, to expand outside the state.
The talks began last year between the two companies, and before long it was clear to Robert Meyerson, president and CEO of FSC, that by aligning FSC with a company such as Fiserv, the end result would be nothing short of a win-win situation for all parties involved. “So we went ahead and presented to them our goals and plans for the future…and they were very anxious to succeed in those [same] areas,” he explained.
Formed in 1972, FSC provides insurance companies, independent agents and brokers with comparative insurance rating information services, particularly within the p/c arena. The company offers a full complement of personal and commercial, standard and nonstandard rating packages.
“There is a lot of synergy between the two companies,” Meyerson said.
Headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., Fiserv is an independent, full-service provider of technology solutions to the financial industry. The publicly traded company serves more than 10,000 financial services providers worldwide, including banks, broker-dealers, credit unions, financial planners/investment advisers, insurance companies, mortgage banks and savings institutions.
According to Michael Gantt, executive vice president and COO of Fiserv Insurance Solutions Group, this marks the ninth acquisition since the company entered the insurance business in 1998. With Fiserv’s financial backing and FSC’s products, the big question is whether or not the two companies can stick to their strategic plan.
“When we got started in this whole operation, evaluating what the future holds for FSC, it became very evident that we had the premier products in the industry, but needed to put together some of those other pieces that make it truly a great success,” Meyerson said. “And that means having the ability to expand and attract quality people to our organization-something a small company has difficulty doing on its own.”
According to Jim Rogers, editor of The California Conduit and The Nonstandard Auto Market Review, this acquisition has the potential to make a major impact on the marketplace. “This is very big, especially if [Fiserv] allows FSC to go forward with everything that Bob has planned-he has the ideas, and these people have the money and the tools to carry them out,” Rogers said. “…FSC has really controlled the market with software-they do an efficient job with a product that everybody needs.”
Fiserv’s long-term strategy is to provide a full suite of technology solutions for the insurance industry, Gantt said. “And that would include not just the insurance company systems where we have been focusing for the last few years, but also the insurance agents where insurance is bought and sold.” Basically, the company is committed to building both back-office and front-office operations. “And FSC helped us to fulfill an important piece of that front office,” Gantt added.
But that’s not the only reason Fiserv chose FSC to complement its Insurance Solutions Group. “FSC is a successful company with a high degree of customer satisfaction and a great focus on delivery of a consistent and high-quality service,” Gantt said. “So it was a very attractive company that fit a space where we want to be of service to the industry.” Meyerson believes that the acquisition will not create any shakeouts in FSC’s current operations. Instead, he anticipates a seamless transition. “Our management team is totally intact, and I am committed to move forward and make out of it what we intend to do-and that is to expand into a number of states with our complete technology base,” he said. “We have a state-of-the-art product now, and we want to be able to maximize its potential.”
Fiserv now has more than 94 successful acquisitions under its belt. With its latest purchase (terms of which were not disclosed), the company now looks forward to expanding its growing base of insurance clients.
“This [acquisition] is very advantageous, not only for the company, but also for the employees. For me, that’s the driving force,” Meyerson said. “We are able to capitalize on our product base at a very appropriate time.” In order not to leak any information to the competition, Meyerson declined to comment on which states they’ve been eyeing. He did say that the goal is to move as quickly as possible-”and unless things change, we’re going to move with the plan that we’ve already derived.”