Second Thoughts

By | May 9, 2005

Not every business merger works out, for one reason or another. Just ask Citigroup and Travelers. This is especially true of independent agency mergers and acquisitions.

“Independent” agencies aren’t just called that because they produce for a number of companies. Their owners are usually very independent-minded, accustomed to doing things their own way and being their own bosses. When, suddenly, cooperation rather than command is the order of the day things can go south in a hurry. But that’s only one of many reasons why M&As can fail, as freelancer Dan Aznoff explores in his excellent story on page N14, “Second Thoughts.”

This led me to wonder, however, about other people who must be having second thoughts right about now. Here are some likely suspects:

  • Retired AIG Chairman and CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg is probably sorry he ever heard the term, “finite insurance.”
  • Warren Buffett’s probably sorry he ever heard the name, “Hank Greenberg.”
  • President Bush has said numerous times he still regrets trading away Sammy Sosa, though I wonder if he’ll take the time to see him now that he’s playing in nearby Baltimore.
  • Ousted Marsh CEO Jeffrey Greenberg might regret following his father into the insurance business.
  • Michael Jordan must regret his third and unsuccessful comeback with the Washington Wizards.
  • Former Aon CEO Patrick Ryan has probably thought twice about telling the Chicago Tribune internal investigations showed the firm had done nothing wrong shortly before New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer concluded otherwise.
  • Mickey Segal, facing up to 20 years in federal prison for embezzlement, probably wishes he’d hired a better bookkeeper – or a better lawyer.
  • Chicago Bears fans probably regret watching the team for the last dozen years.
  • Insurers must regret the invention of asbestos as insulation material.
  • Lastly, you may be having second thoughts for not submitting your agency’s information for consideration in this issue’s top 100 agencies’ listing. Check out for information on how to submit for next year’s listing.
  • Regardless of whether you’re in the top 100 by premium volume or not, your agency may be special in some other way worth sharing with other readers. Such is the case with this edition’s cover girl, JoAnn Osmond. Read more about her story on page 35. And if your agency has a compelling personal story behind it or you insure a niche risk or type of customer, we’re eager to hear about it. Don’t hesitate to contact me in my Chicago office at (773)381-1572.

    Thanks for reading.

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