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In with the New: How to Guide Young Producers to Long-Term Success

Here's three things to tell your new talent to help them see the exciting career opportunities the insurance industry offers.
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in with the new: how to guide young producers to long-term success

If you're having a tough time recruiting new talent at your agency, you're not alone. The insurance industry has been challenged to attract, acquire and develop young, diverse talent for as long as I can remember. In 2014, the average age of an insurance producer was 59 and the industry was on trend to lose a quarter of its workforce by 2018, according to McKinsey & Co.

There is no doubt about it, we still have a problem making this industry an exciting option for young professionals. But when I think about all the career opportunities this industry can provide, I can't help but think that we have a messaging problem.

Recently, I had a conversation with an agency principal on that exact topic. He asked me how to pitch producer candidates on getting into the industry. Here are the three things I told him: 

1) You get to decide who you want to be. Unlike many industries, producers get to decide who they want as a customer. This is powerful. In what other professions can you say that?

The challenge is that new producers are rarely given the opportunity or guidance to intentionally develop a client-type mindset.

Too frequently, new producers start out as generalists and are rarely encouraged to become specialists. Without specialization, it's difficult to develop a compelling value proposition, connect with prospects at a meaningful level or go upstream and work on larger, more complex accounts.

Helping a new producer identify two or three niches that align with their passion, marketplace opportunities and revenue expectations is one of the greatest gifts an agency principal can bestow. 

2) A vast majority of businesses are at risk and don't know it. Surprisingly, this particular assertion isn't always believed. Yet, as a trainer in the industry, I can attest to the truthfulness of this statement.

Reviewing policy after policy, we see a substantial number of policyholders at risk of paying out of pocket for a claim because their insurance policy is either inadequate or inaccurate.

What's the cause? Producers falling into the “commodity trap." That's a term coined by Peter Drucker, who also said, “in a commodity market, you can only be as good as your dumbest competitor."

The trap is often unintentionally set by business owners or managers who make insurance buying and risk management decisions by “spreadsheeting" quotes, trying to make an apples-to-apples comparison. The trap works because few producers have an alternative approach to offer, and, as a result, follow the buyer's lead and end up supplying quotes instead of leading buyers toward a more effective approach. 

While this is scary to think about, it provides a significant opportunity for new producers who gain the skills necessary to lead buyers and help them self-discover business risks and threats they were previously unaware of.

3) There's never been a better time to be an agent. If there is one bright spot in 2020, it's that businesses are seeing the holes in their insurance programs and are seeking to engage with insurance professionals who can help them identify additional areas where they may be at risk.

A pandemic, a hard market, global climate change creating unexpected and significant weather-related events, and an increase in cyberattacks provide ample opportunities for discussion about insurance and risk management strategies.

2020 may be remembered as the year of COVID-19, but it should also remind us of the important and meaningful work producers can do to protect the personal and professional assets of their clients. 

Susan Toussaint is a practice leader at Oceanus Partners, a ReSource Pro company. Oceanus Partners is a firm dedicated to helping insurance professionals working in all lines of business insurance improve sales and client retention.

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Thursday, December 31, 2020
Perpetuation & Valuation