Why Agencies Need to Promote Opportunities for Young People

All of the economic data suggests that the economy is going great and we are nearly at full employment. At the same time, there is anecdotal evidence that the current generation of young workers will not end up as wealthy as the previous generation. Why is this the case?

While job opportunities are plenty, the quality of employment in the white-collar sector—other than for graduates of the best business schools—appears to be weak. The opportunities for young employees to work toward earning a six-figure income are very limited, except in the insurance agency and brokerage space—and few people are aware of this.

Clearly, there is a perception problem that the insurance distribution industry has yet to overcome. In my view, it’s because the insurance brokerage industry doesn’t do a good job of promoting itself to young workers.

I think back to my experience as a college senior seeking employment where all the on-campus interviews in the insurance industry were for jobs selling life insurance. For many young adults, it is still the case, and there is the perception that the readily available positions are only in this unappealing segment.

Two other thoughts come to mind from my youth. The first is the memory of a “debit man” coming to our door to collect money from my grandmother for her life insurance policy. The second is a scene from a Woody Allen movie where a prisoner, who did not behave while incarcerated, had to spend time in solitary confinement with a life insurance salesperson, truly a grave punishment.

Many years later, I discovered that the property-casualty brokerage space is markedly different than the life insurance space, and the property-casualty field is full of young people who are engaged in the industry, often because of a family connection.

In p-c, I’ve met more “juniors” and “thirds” carrying their family name than I can count. All of them affirmed that while an insurance career is usually off the radar screen for most college students, they were grateful to be in a career that provided a good lifestyle with the flexibility and autonomy provided by a healthy income.

Oh, and by the way, there are ownership opportunities, the income is recurring and the product being distributed is a necessity and practically recession-proof—not too shabby! The positive attributes of the insurance brokerage field are almost too numerous to mention, but it appears that they are not being mentioned, even a little.

The industry needs to do a better job of communicating these opportunities to young, career-seeking adults. Agency principals can’t just rely on family to both populate and perpetuate their agencies.

Owners need to reach out to the local college or business school, start internship programs, connect with leadership in insurance-specific college fraternities and simply let younger folks know that their dreams and aspirations may be more attainable with a career in insurance.

Robert Pettinicchi is the executive vice president and chief lending officer for InsurBanc. A division of Connecticut Community Bank, N.A., InsurBanc is a community-focused commercial bank specializing in products and services for independent insurance agencies.