With many agency principals retiring in the next five to 10 years, there’s an opportunity for hungry, energetic leaders to step into ownership. What are you doing now to get ready?
Keeping and retaining talent is constantly on the minds of agency owners. While there is a great deal of focus placed on what current owners are doing to attract and retain great talent, there is another side to this conversation: the future agency owners.
The average age of agency principals is 54 years old, with 17% age 66 or older, according to the 2022 Agency Universe Study. That means plenty of agency owners will be at or past retirement age in the next five to 10 years. These owners will be considering transitioning ownership of their agency, which means there is an opportunity for a new generation to step into ownership.
If you are a hungry, smart energetic leader who sees the incredible opportunity to become a business owner, a question for you is: What are you doing to build your pathway to ownership? If you're coming up short with an answer, here are five ways to start:
1) Bridge the generational divide. Having the awareness and ability to move past your own tendencies and meet other people where they are is a skill that is incredibly important for leaders. Having an appreciation for different perceptions can go a long way in bridging generational divides and demonstrating leadership abilities. Seeking out advice from more seasoned agents and taking the time to consider and incorporate that advice into your approach builds mutual respect.
2) Broaden your view. Think like the position you want, not the position you have. Well before you have the title of owner, you can think like one by broadening your view and considering all aspects of the business—not just your perspective. When a problem arises, ask yourself how the problem impacts all roles inside the agency, your customers and your partners. Ask questions about the business and participate in creating solutions.
Leaders must make difficult and even unpopular decisions, and it is incredibly valuable when others are able to rise above their own viewpoint and see the bigger picture. By taking this approach, the current owner will be able to picture you in a leadership role more easily.
3) Find your mentor and value their guidance. The knowledge that many veterans in our industry possess can help you shape the future. The industry is full of people who are willing to share and mentor each other. However, don't surround yourself with people who look, think and talk like you. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, have different experiences and hold different viewpoints. We all have blind spots, so seeking out a diverse group of people who can make you think is powerful.
4) Pair grand ideas with strategy. Young leaders are often rich with energy, grand ideas and aggressive goals. But when you share ideas, present them with a thought-out plan that encompasses as many aspects as possible, including time, cost and training. Make sure to incorporate supporting data in the plan. Additionally, share ways to measure the success or failure of the idea and a process to implement it. The more comprehensive and well-thought-out your plan is, the more trust and confidence you will instill that your ideas have merit.
5) Commit financially. Are you prepared to purchase an agency? In order to secure a loan, you will need sound credit and the ability to put 10% down. Becoming an owner will require taking on both the financial risks and rewards of the agency. So the more you can do to gain an understanding of the business and all that is involved with running the agency, the more prepared you will be.
Carey Wallace is founder of AgencyFocus, an independent insurance agency consulting company.