Many agency owners aspire to keep their firms privately held. They believe that employee ownership gives them certain marketplace advantages, and to protect these advantages they are willing to work hard to ensure their firm can perpetuate internally.

Today these aspirations are colliding with a grim reality–at the very point that the baby boomer generation is beginning to retire, remaining privately held is getting considerably tougher. Why?

Several factors have converged to make perpetuation difficult. The economy has been weak for nearly three years and remains frustratingly uncertain. The soft commercial insurance pricing environment is nearing the completion of its seventh year, and few are predicting a hard market anytime soon. Finally, President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is causing angst for those brokering health insurance.

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