Jim Masiello is the founder, CEO and chairman of SIAA (Strategic Independent Agents Alliance), and while he is known throughout the industry as a direct, straight-to-the-point personality, generally speaking he is a pretty amicable guy. However, if you want to see him bristle up, just try and throw SIAA in the lot with those other independent agency models – Clusters and Aggregators.
We have seen it occur in the context of industry publications, national and regional associations, and prospective members. It’s an honest mistake. We all possess a need or desire to categorize, and put some context around the business model. Comparison, contrast, and categorization is how we make sense of the world surrounding us.
WHAT IS A CLUSTER?
Group of agents form a joint venture to place their individual books of business as part of a larger book in order to receive higher commissions or overrides. Cluster members maintain independent ownership of their accounts and agency and continue to operate individually. Generally, Clusters are not formed for aggressive premium growth but rather to increase income by combining volumes.
So what exactly is SIAA, and why is it unfair to affix the aggregator or cluster label to it? They all provide access to markets right?
The differences are many, but one could distill it down to 1. size, and 2. a focus on the agent (vs the premium), and 3. a vested interest.Size. The number of agencies who have signed on with the SIAA partnering model will exceed 6,500 in 2017. These members are located throughout all 48 continental states and the in-force written premium is over $6.6 Billion.
There simply are no other national networks that can compare. In fact, according to the Insurance Journal 2016 Agency Partnership Rankings, the next largest group reported less than half the P/C written premium of SIAA.
Why is size important? It provides stability during a time where the industry and the independent agency channel is evolving in unprecedented ways. It provides strength in negotiating agreements with insurance company partners, and it provides the capital to invest in the resources and support to better equip member agencies.
WHAT IS AN AGGREGATOR?
Provide market access and aggregate premium without any support services or tools.
Agency Focused. While SIAA, aggregators and clusters all provide access to companies and markets that may otherwise be unavailable to the independent agent, the SIAA partnering model uniquely focuses on providing the agency, regardless of its situation and size, whatever it needs to be more
profitable and independent. This can include agency marketing support, programs & specialty markets, E&S partnerships, training and education, life & benefits partners, and perpetuation planning.
Vested Interest. We are all in this boat together. Over the last 34 years, SIAA’s insurance company partners have come to rely on the growing SIAA network to meet certain benchmarks in new business, loss-ratios and total premium. SIAA employs a proven book management process, working with SIAA membership to adopt front-line underwriting behaviors. This ensures that each member’s profit sharing and override revenues continue to grow their bottom line.
This attention to book quality ensures each SIAA member will continue to be offered the best possible commissions, incentives and markets available.