Agencies incubator launches with US investor backing
Underwriting agencies incubator Rhodian, co-founded by Simon Lightbody, has launched with US-based specialty wholesale distributor Amwins taking a minority stake in the business.
Rhodian will provide a suite of support services including legal and compliance, finance, data analytics, capacity management and marketing to provide a faster pathway for start-up agencies to enter the market.
Mr Lightbody, also CEO of the business, says it has become more difficult to set up an underwriting agency in recent years given regulatory, financial and other requirements, and Rhodian will provide the assistance required.
“Rhodian is looking to create and incubate, support the next generation of agency leaders and the brands that they will create,” he says.
“We want agency leaders to concentrate on product development, distribution of product to the broker market, whilst the Rhodian platform manages the services for that agency.”
Mr Lightbody tells insuranceNEWS.com.au that current market conditions are conducive to new underwriting agencies entering the market, with capacity starting to become more available following hard market conditions.
The model allows agencies to slot in under the financial services licence of Rhodian, which will take equity in the ventures in return for the funding and support.
“We will be very selective,” he said. “We have a selection process, and it does require a strong business plan and a strong proposition.”
Amwins, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the largest independent wholesale distributor of specialty insurance products in the US, is taking a 40% holding in Rhodian.
“Amwins has a strong and impressive culture, which aligns with our vision,” Mr Lightbody says. “We believe that together we can ensure the Australian agency market continues on its trajectory toward being the strongest supplier of niche products to broker markets.”
Mr Lightbody has worked in the insurance industry for more than three decades, including 10 years as Steadfast Underwriting Agencies CEO and nine years within his own business, Miramar Underwriting Agency. In the UK he worked at Lloyd’s of London.
Rhodian co-founder and CUO Peter Takos, who has also worked at Miramar and Steadfast, says underwriting agencies are playing an increasing role in delivering products to broker networks.
“Part of our focus is to match both domestic and international capacity with the strongest agency product offering, ensuring the evolving needs of broker clients can be met in a sustainable way,” he says.
Former Steadfast broker performance consultant Tessa Chirnside is COO, Kerryn Dominguez is CFO and Stephen O’Young Chief Technical Officer.
Rhodian will become a business services member of the Underwriting Agencies Council.
Amwins says it brings significant expertise and experience in the development of managing general agents offerings.
“Alongside shared cultural values and an independent structure, this partnership provides access to qualified capacity across multiple product lines, putting Rhodian in a prime position for accelerated and sustainable growth,” CEO Scott Purviance said.