If there’s a loser in the deal, you’re doing it wrong

I have been involved in hundreds of mergers and acquisitions over the past decade and I can tell you, it doesn’t matter if you do 20 deals in one year, or one deal in 20 years, if the buyer and seller trust each other, the likelihood of success becomes infinitely higher.

A merger or acquisition is never just a business transaction — it’s people coming together to accomplish more collectively than they ever could on their own.

The price and terms that a buyer and seller negotiate are what make a deal worth a certain amount of money. Trust built between a buyer and seller, however, is the crucial element that makes the deal work.

No losers here

Finding the right partner takes patience, time and a lot of communicating.

People do deals for different reasons, and the decision to buy another firm, merge to create a new firm or sell to a new owner can be an emotional one. Setting and agreeing upon reasonable expectations is critical to striking a deal.

It’s not always easy, but these expectations need to be established early on in the process because these become the finer points of the negotiation between the buyer and the seller. When people know what to expect, and when compromises are reached among people who trust each other, then the deal has a solid foundation for success.

If there’s a loser in the negotiation, then you’re doing it wrong.

Set expectations; live up to them

Having a clear set of expectations creates clarity for the business going forward. Living up to those expectations creates trust among the people running the business.

The merger and acquisition process can get complicated: taxes, business structures, legal agreements and IT systems need to be addressed, and usually in a pretty tight timeframe. It’s difficult to anticipate every challenge, but if you do what you say you’ll do, and you keep the commitments you make, then overcoming the challenges will be infinitely easier.

Mergers and acquisitions are always transformative — both for buyers and for sellers. There is always at least some amount of change. Companies get bigger and new working relationships need to be established.

We view each one of our deals as the creation of a new partnership, and a few simple principals guide us:

  • Be honest.
  • Be fair.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be a good partner.

Our guiding principles make us transparent, and we believe that breeds trust. We know what to expect from our partners, and our partners know what to expect from us; our reputation grows with every deal.

Everyone in the transaction needs to win.


Rick Miley is the President and CEO of BroadStreet Partners. Since Rick founded BroadStreet in 2001, it has become one of the country’s top insurance broker holding companies. With 150 U.S. locations and over 2,400 professional colleagues, BroadStreet has acquired or merged with over 257 brokers while growing organically. Its annual revenue has increased at a compound growth rate of 23 percent over the past seven years to $445 million.