Mac Wesson: Mergers and acquisitions are a fact of life

by Scott Kersgaard09 Oct 2015
President and COO of US Risk since 1993, Mac Wesson has seen a world of change and growth in wholesale and specialty lines insurance, and expects to see a lot more. Headquartered in Dallas, US Risk operates 16 domestic and international offices. A former president of NAPSLO, Wesson spoke with Insurance Business America last week.
 
On mergers and acquisitions:
 
“I think the trend of mergers and acquisitions will continue. It brings both opportunities and challenges. Big agencies will keep getting bigger and smaller ones may have trouble competing. I don’t think small agencies have to be purchased to survive though. They have to focus on being the best they can be. There are many small agencies who do really good work and have a high level of expertise. You can’t judge a business by how big it is. The question is, what is their level of expertise? Sometimes companies focus too much on becoming as big as they can be and don’t focus enough on being the best they can be. Mind you, there are also many big companies doing great work, but it has to remain the focus. If small independent agencies want to survive they need to build their expertise and focus on client service.
 
“We (US Risk) are in a good place. We are an independent agency but we are big enough that we don’t need to worry about being bought out.
 
“The industry has really enjoyed a facelift lately. Insurance used to be seen as somewhat stale but now it is seen as an attractive industry for young people to get into.”
 
On cyber risk:
 
“Cyber risk is a great unknown right now. Insurance companies need to provide coverage but they don’t know enough about the potential risk. We don’t know how it will play out. It reminds me of employer liability a few years ago, and the industry did a good job with that. Cyber will be old hat soon. I have great faith and trust in the industry.”
 
On extreme weather events:
 
“I don’t know if I would say we have more weather events, but the events we have are more severe. There is an old saying that you don’t challenge mother nature because it will win.”
 
On self-driving cars:
 
“It all depends on how they perform. If they are prone to collisions because of programming errors, we will see the industry choose not to cover that. If they operate the way they are supposed to, which I expect they will, then they will be a preferred risk, but I think it is going to take awhile.”