I believe agencies fit into one of three categories.
Status Quo: Keeping an even level of energy and production; not looking to grow, but not looking to shrink.
Growth-Oriented or Newly-Emerging: Finding new ways to increase new business sales; increasing cross-selling; and finding new ways to grow the business.
Preparing to Sell: After years of hard work, looking to find a buyer and retire.
Which describes your agency?
Regardless of which category you identify with, one thing all three groups have in common is that they must actively look for and hire new agency talent.
If you are a Status Quo agency, it probably means you have brought your business to a level where you are comfortable. It also probably means that you have surrounded yourself with a long-term staff. Some of those employees will leave before you migrate to one of the other agency categories noted above. If you have not made plans to replace the departing talent by the time that happens, you will no longer be able to keep the status quo.
If you are in the Growth-Oriented or Newly Emerging mode, you will absolutely be looking to bring new talent into your business. It will be very difficult to grow your agency without an influx of talent to help you achieve your goals. This new talent will provide your agency with new ideas—and as a result, new sales will begin to bloom.
If you are Preparing to Sell, you will need to demonstrate to potential buyers that they are not buying an agency that has nothing left on the shelf. An agency with little talent, old talent or retiring talent is much less valuable to a buyer than one that has been adequately restocked.
Now here is the problem. All three agency types need new talent, but where to find it? In the next five to seven years, the insurance industry will lose almost 50% of its current workforce. The baby boomer generation will be retiring in droves, causing a talent drain like never before. All other industries will be experiencing the same phenomenon, but the insurance industry’s problem is compounded by a workforce that is 30% older than average.
The insurance industry is a good place to work—we should have a great story to tell. But we don’t tell it as well as we should. Generation X and Generation Y see us as old, not inclusive and behind the times in technology. We need to change that perception.
A number of years ago, our agency began a multi-pronged initiative to help potential new employees understand that a career in insurance was a great option. Thanks to those efforts, about half our staff of 53 people is now younger than the average insurance industry employee. These staff members are all terrific additions to our organization.
What can you do to change the culture of your agency—and our industry—and attract new talent? Check out InVEST (www.investprogram.org). Spearheaded by the Big “I,” InVEST is a collaborative effort to attract new talent to the insurance industry. A wealth of information is available on the InVEST website, and you can access all of it as a Big “I” member.
In future articles, I will continue to discuss the impending problem of bringing talent into our industry. Your association is working hard to find ways to attract talent to our businesses and help you find employees who match your needs. Stay tuned!
—Tom Minkler, Big “I” Chairman