Insurance brokers reported overall strong earnings results for Q2 2023, which were attributed to a combination of improving new business, ongoing insurance rate increases, and strong retention. Organic growth figures reported in Q2 2023 were generally comparable to those seen in Q1 2023. Most brokers reported organic growth rates in a range of 6%-16%; compared to 7%-13% in Q1 2023.
Organic growth rates
- Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC) reported organic revenue growth of 10% in Q2 2023, vs. 9% for first quarter 2023, and 7% organic growth in Q4 2022.
- Brown & Brown, Inc. (BRO) reported organic growth of 11.2% in Q2 2023, vs. 12.6% in Q1 2023 and 7.8% in Q4 2022.
- Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG) posted for its combined Brokerage and Risk Management segments 10.8% organic growth in Q2 2023, vs. 9.7% organic growth in Q1 2023 and 11.7% organic growth in Q4 2022.
- Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company (WTW) posted 7% organic growth in Q2 2023, below the 8% organic growth in Q1 2023, but above the organic growth rate of 5% in Q4 2022.
- Aon plc. (AON) reported organic revenue growth of 6% in Q2 2023, vs. 7% in Q1 2023, and 5% in Q4 2022. The firm noted that its Aon United strategy and Aon Business Services platform helped drive its performance.
- Ryan Specialty Holdings, Inc. (RYAN) again reported strong organic growth of 16.1% in Q2 2023 (against the 22.3% organic growth in Q2 2022), compared to 12.9% in Q1 2023. The firm saw broad strength across its lines of business, especially in many individual lines of business and in property.
- BRP Group, Inc. (BRP) once again reported organic growth that was higher than the public broker group average, with Q2 2023 organic growth of 22% vs. Q1 2023’s organic growth of 23%. This organic growth was driven by broad-based strength across the segments.
The macroeconomic environment
While leaders at some insurance brokers noted concerns about the macroeconomic environment, such as persistent inflation and geopolitical uncertainty, most are confident in their continued growth and that of their clients.
BRO CEO, President & Director J. Powell Brown said on BRO’s Q2 2023 earnings call: “We expect business leaders will remain cautious regarding the pace of their hiring and how much they will invest over the coming quarters…While the overall rate of inflation continued to slow, business leaders remain cautious regarding the level of investment in their business in the second quarter, but incrementally are feeling better than they did in Q1 and Q4 of last year.”
Despite concerns about elevated inflation and a potential slowdown, Ryan remains confident in the strength of the E&S space. Chairman & CEO Patrick G. Ryan commented on the Q2 2023 earnings call: “Throughout the second quarter, the E&S marketplace remained robust… Looking ahead, we expect favorable specialty insurance market dynamics to persist, and we remain confident that 2023 will continue to be another strong year for our firm.”
MMC President, CEO & Director John Quinlan Doyle commented on the Q2 2023 earnings call that concerns about a slowdown remain, stating: “I think there is still a meaningful risk of recession. And in fact, where we do have exposure in other parts of the world, we have economies in recession currently… And inflation overall, we do think is beneficial to the company. We’re not again immune to some of the challenges that we confront from an inflationary environment in our expenses, but overall, it’s a bit of a benefit.”
Merger & acquisition activity
BRO noted that it was active in mergers & acquisitions (M&A), but volume continued to slow for the industry. However, there is still high competition for high-quality companies. BRO CEO, President & Director J. Powell Brown said on the firm’s Q2 2023 earnings call about M&A: “The level of deals primarily from financial backers continued to slow during the second quarter. As a result, we’re seeing fewer bidders for businesses and valuations have come down slightly from their peak, but that doesn’t mean that a good business won’t trade at high multiples.”
AJG had another active quarter in Q2 2023, with 14 new tuck-in brokerage mergers completed (in addition to the Buck acquisition), accounting for about $349 million of annual revenue including Buck. AJG continues to have a strong pipeline, with almost 55 term sheets signed or being prepared, which is over $700 million in annual revenue.
On RYAN’s Q2 2023 earnings call, the firm noted that its M&A pipeline continued to be robust, and the company remains disciplined in the pursuit of acquisitions.
BRP CEO Trevor Baldwin said on the Q2 2023 earnings call: “We continue to kind of remain active and opportunistic around our pipeline of opportunities and keep that live. Our priority remains de-levering the business down below our long-term range of 4.5 turns.”
Stock performance of public brokers vs. major benchmark indices
During the period from January 1, 2023, through July 31, 2023, six public brokers, as measured by MarshBerry’s Broker Index, saw a better return vs. the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). The S&P 500 index outperformed both the Broker Index and the DJIA.
The following publicly traded insurance brokers are included in the Broker Index: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG), Aon plc. (AON), Brown & Brown, Inc. (BRO), Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC), Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company (WTW) and BRP Group, Inc. (BRP).
The collective share prices of the public insurance brokers continued to advance through July 2023, helped by positive economic data and their strong business results. Investors were encouraged by data in July that showed moderating inflation and resilient growth, with some economists expecting a “soft landing,” where the central bank can slow growth and curb inflation without causing a major downturn. U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the Fed is no longer projecting a recession, following an expected quarter-point rate hike on July 26th. Earnings are generally meeting expectations and the economic outlook appeared to stabilize and improve.
Most brokers remained confident in their abilities to meet their growth targets for 2023.
WTW reiterated its prior 2023 guidance for mid-single-digit organic revenue growth and adjusted operating margin expansion.1 In Q2 2023, WTW decreased slightly its 2024 target for adjusted operating margin from 23%-24% to 22.5%-23.5%; and adjusted diluted earnings per share from $17.50-$20.50 to $15.40-$17.00. This is largely due to higher investments in talent and key strategic initiatives, especially in the Risk & Broking segment. A slower pace of generating operating leverage also contributed to the change.
MMC said that it sees high single-digit underlying revenue growth for full year 2023, with continued margin expansion and strong growth in adjusted earnings per share. This compares to prior guidance from Q1 2023 for mid-single-digit or higher organic revenue growth in 2023.
BRP now projects 2023 organic growth in the high teens (vs. prior guidance of mid-teens organic growth in Q1 2023), and Q3 2023 organic growth in the mid-teens. The firm raised its full year revenue range guidance from $1.16B-$1.19B to $1.18B-$1.2B.
Overall, Q2 2023 results from the public insurance brokers came in fairly strong with management teams more confident around meeting targets for 2023 and overall business sentiment.
Investment banking services in the USA offered through MarshBerry Capital, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC, and an affiliate of Marsh, Berry & Company, LLC, 28601 Chagrin Blvd, Suite 400, Woodmere, OH 44122 (440) 354-3230