Forging a New Reporting Structure

Donna Blank has led finance operations since joining NFP in 2008. The New York-based company provides benefits, insurance and wealth management services to companies and high-net-worth individuals. NFP, with $982 million in 2010 revenue, has weathered the economic hardships of the last two years to emerge with a new reporting structure that reflects the company's strategy going forward.

T&R: One of the recent initiatives at NFP has been a change in reporting structure. Why was that an important move?
Blank: The financial crisis for us coincided with a time when the company was becoming more mature. NFP is a relatively young company, started in 1999. So the way we responded to the crisis, in addition to reducing our leverage and disposing of non-performing assets, was to change strategy from being a consolidator of small brokerage firms to a much more client-centric business. We reorganized into three operating segments. One segment focuses on the corporate client, the middle market executives who want to buy corporate benefits for their employees. The next is the Individual Client Group. This group includes the business that had been the genesis of NFP, the life insurance business with a focus on high-net-worth individuals. There is sometimes crossover between the executives served in the Corporate Client Group who also, as individuals, want to buy life insurance. And then we have a new segment, which had always been part of the business, our broker-dealer and registered investment adviser. This business, called the Advisor Services Group, was initially developed as a utility for the rest of our business, but we decided it had really reached the stage where it needed to be on its own and start building scale by itself.

So given that change in the focus and the strategy of the business, it made sense to show the financials separately for each of those business lines. The goal that I focused on, in particular, was to have financials that provided a clear road map for understanding the underlying economics of the business, especially given the change in the strategy. We adopted some new metrics that were similar to those used by peer companies. We adopted adjusted EBITDA, which had not been something that we had ever used before but that other insurance brokers reported. This metric seemed like a good way to start translating the company for the market. It provides insight into our relative size, as well as the kind of margins that we have in the business.

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