IA Valuations recently held a webinar discussing 2024 Independent Agency M&A Trends and Predictions. IA Valuations’ CEO, Jeff Smith, and Director of Business Planning and Valuations, Craig Niess, hosted three panelists: Mike Wagar from Westfield Bank, Dan Girardi from Keystone Agency Partners, and Rob Smith from Fideles Advisors. These panelists were selected due to their decades of industry experience and niche knowledge on this topic. This summary was produced using a transcription of the webinar, ChatGPT, and the help of a real human, Colleen Barbara, Marketing Coordinator for IA Valuations.

The webinar focused on the future of independent insurance agency valuations and growth strategies. The discussion covered industry optimism, the continuing trend of consolidation, and the challenges of valuations and talent retention.

Industry Outlook – Bullish or Bearish?

All three of our panelists were Bullish when it comes to the industry outlook. Mike, the agency banking leader, expressed strong optimism about the industry’s resilience. Despite facing higher interest rates and potential non-compete issues, he noted that independent insurance agencies have consistently attracted private equity investment. The high demand from these PE-backed buyers is driving valuations higher. Mike highlighted the industry’s ability to weather economic fluctuations and remain robust.

Dan, who leads the M&A group at KAP, echoed Mike’s sentiments, emphasizing the crucial role of independent agencies in the insurance distribution model. He pointed out that the anticipated disintermediation in the industry has not materialized, and valuations have remained high, despite rising interest rates. Dan stressed the importance of quality management and the influx of young talent who can build legacy agencies to sustain growth and maintain high valuations.

Rob, with 25 years in insurance distribution and recent experience in executive leadership roles, shared his constructive view on the industry. He underscored the ongoing interest from private equity in insurance distribution, driven by the potential for significant investment returns. He also noted that, despite the changing capital environment, valuations have shown durability and could even increase if capital becomes more available.


The panelists provided detailed insights into the factors influencing agency valuations. Mike observed that valuations have remained strong due to high demand, with higher interest rates having limited impact so far. He attributed this resilience to the industry’s attractiveness to investors.

Dan added that, contrary to expectations, valuations have not only remained stable but, in some cases, have even increased. He highlighted a trend towards more selective buying, with investors focusing on high-quality agencies. Dan emphasized that factors, such as the quality of management, business lines, and revenue sources, have become increasingly important in valuation assessments.

Rob concurred, stating that the sustained interest from private equity firms continues to support high valuations. He suggested that if the capital environment becomes more favorable, valuations could experience further growth.

Challenges and Threats

Talent acquisition emerged as a common concern among the panelists. Mike identified it as the greatest threat to growth, stressing the need for young talent to drive the industry forward. He emphasized that agencies must have a solid plan for growth and talent development to maintain their competitive edge.

Dan agreed, noting that the ability to attract and develop future leaders within agencies is crucial for sustaining high valuations. He highlighted the demographic challenges facing the industry and the need for agencies to invest in building a strong bench of future leaders.

Rob provided a slightly different perspective, pointing out that the current rate environment’s impact on growth sustainability could be a concern for some investors. He suggested that fluctuations in premiums and commissions could potentially slow growth rates, making it essential for agencies to navigate these challenges effectively.

M&A Insights in 2024 and Beyond

Mike remarks that M&A demand is still strong, despite the bubble we are currently in. The 2020 election was a huge driver due to the threat of tax changes, and Mike can see how the upcoming 2024 election could cause another surge. Interest rates are stabilizing, but he does not see M&A activity slowing down.

Dan comments on the trends in M&A as “Consolidation of Consolidators” – the big buyers are being bought by even bigger buyers, which is maturing the PE industry, as well as new entrants coming into the system. He remarks that politics are a big driver and threats of tax rates are essentially “fear-mongering,” which is a cause for spikes in M&A.

Rob begins his comments by building on to one of Dan’s points about new entrants into the market – Rob’s company, Fideles, is one of these new entrants. Fideles is seeing some normalization in the M&A market and the current pace is largely sustainable because the participants are changing. He sees a large emphasis being placed on operationalizing the agencies that are being bought to make them the most efficient.

Future Strategies

Looking ahead, the panelists discussed various strategies for agencies to thrive in the evolving landscape. Mike suggested that agencies should focus on planning for exit strategies and differentiation to stay competitive. He emphasized the importance of clear, strategic planning for long-term success as early as day one – if it gets too late, the options quickly become limited. He references the popular quote, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

Dan highlighted the significance of building a strong management team and hiring producers to ensure sustained growth. He pointed out that agencies must be proactive in developing the next generation of leadership to secure their future. This is a 5-10 year process, but bringing in young agents will give an agency new life.

Rob emphasized the role of buy-to-build strategies in driving growth and suggested that artificial intelligence could have a transformative impact on the industry. He encouraged agencies to explore these opportunities to enhance their competitive advantage. He echoes the other panelists in that planning early should be at the forefront of strategy.


Overall, the webinar provided valuable insights into the future of independent insurance agencies, highlighting the industry’s resilience and the importance of strategic planning and talent development. IA Valuations specializes in valuation-based planning and consulting exclusively for independent agents. If you’d like to learn more about our services or want to speak to someone about your agency’s unique situation, reach out to Jodie Shaw at jodie@iavaluations.com.

Don’t miss out on the rest of IA Valuations’ 2024 Webinar Learning Series! Register Here.

By: Colleen Barbara, Marketing Coordinator

This article was written with the assistance of ChatGPT and Otter.AI transcription.

About IA Valuations and Agency Link – Founded in 2017, the IA Valuations team has performed over 220 valuations to independent insurance agencies across the U.S. Our advisors have 25+ years of experience guiding agency owners on maximizing their agency value, planning, and legal needs for ownership transition. In addition, IA Valuations has provided perpetuation planning, financial modeling and business planning for independent insurance agencies. Finally, IA Valuations has advised dozens of agency owners on selling their agencies through our Agency Link process. Agency Link is a platform that connects buyers and sellers together to further the growth and strength of the IA system. To learn more about IA Valuations, please visit IAValuations.com or contact@iavaluations.com.   

The information provided in these documents is general in nature and shall not be construed as personal legal, tax or financial advice for your situation. Please contact@iavaluations.com to discuss your personal situation.      

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