"You need a mix of young, up-and-coming people that are learning the industry alongside people who have 30-40 years of experience," says Kyle Beggs, independent agent. "When we all work together it makes a heck of a synergy."
RCI Insurance Group
Recently binged TV show: Tiger King
In your earbuds: Audible Books
Most used app: Email; Zillow; Facebook
No matter where you are or who you talk to, everyone has a need for it. That's unique to what we do. The other thing is the people you get to help. We do a lot of commercial insurance and deal with some of the top movers and shakers in that community. Overall, so many people don't really realize the opportunity in insurance. I didn't realize the opportunity until I started.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I graduated college in the middle of a recession. It was a terrible time to have no experience and to try to find a job. I started out with State Farm in personal lines but then someone gave me the opportunity at an independent agency to learn and train—I eventually bought him out.
Since then, we've brought on six different commercial agents. They're all younger than me and I always tell them that an insurance career is one of the best kept secrets you'll ever find. It's one of the best industries and one of the best careers out there. I'm passionate about that and truly believe that whether you're producing or servicing, it's one of the better industries for all.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT INSURANCE?
My dad is my hero. I really look up to him and the small business that he owned. Because of him, I've always admired entrepreneurs because they think differently than most people. One thing I love about what I do is meeting those people all the time. Some of them started in their garages as a one-person show. In some cases, they have over 300 employees. Hearing their stories about how they built their business from scratch makes me think how lucky I am to get paid to do what I do.
BEST THING ABOUT BEING INDEPENDENT?
It was tough at State Farm when there was a big rate increase and a customer would call you and say, “I've been with you for 15-20 years, I've never had a claim and the price has gone up like crazy three years in a row." I'd have to sit there and say, “Yep, I'm sorry. I can give you great service but there's nothing else I can do." Now, I'm not married to any one company and I can give them the best coverage for the best price. That's a huge trust factor with your clients because they know you can go to bat for them.
FOSTERING THE NEXT GENERATION?
It's where I get the most satisfaction. I love to see them succeed. A lot of that comes from truly believing in this business and everything it has to offer. Everyone that I've brought in has either been brand-new to the industry or were on the personal lines side. I train them from scratch.
But honestly, it isn't down to me. All of our people are unique, but the one thing that connects them is that they all have heart, they care and they're hungry. My goal is to create the best platform for them, whether it is the best software or best companies, the best technology and support system.
FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY?
Everyone is nervous about being replaced by technology but relationships will always be the trump card. People don't necessarily trust insurance companies, but they trust their agents. There will always be a need for an agent.
The worst thing that we can do as an industry is fail to embrace technology. We can either adapt and try to be successful or be like Blockbuster Video and try to do it like we always have. If we embrace the changes, I think it can be another huge asset to being independent.
MULTIPLE GENERATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE?
You can never replace experience. The gentleman I bought out at our agency is one example: All the guys refer to him as the godfather of insurance—it's respect. You need a mix of young, up-and-coming people that are learning the industry alongside people who have 30-40 years of experience. When we all work together it makes a heck of a synergy. And don't get me wrong, we disagree all the time. But if you can work on it and compromise, you'll come to a much better result than you ever would by yourself.
Will Jones is IA managing editor.
This interview is the eighth in a series that profiles 10 millennials in the independent insurance industry, based on Independent Agent magazine's July cover story.