This issue of Insurance Journal features exclusive results from the 2017 Young Agents Survey where nearly 600 young agents nationwide shared their views on the industry and their experience as an agent. (see page 20).
Overall, young agents seem happy with their career choice. The survey found that 82.1 percent of young agents consider insurance to be a permanent career choice and 79.5 percent would recommend being an agent to another young person.
They enjoy the freedom and work-life balance that comes with the job of an independent agent. But there is one discouraging hurdle that most young agents must overcome: ageism.
According to the survey, 73.9 percent of young agents feel as though they must work harder to gain the confidence of their clients because of their age.
There were a lot of “no’s” and a lack of trust from prospects and clients early on for 30-year-old Caroline Pintabone, an account executive at Ahart, Frinzi and Smith, an independent insurance agency with offices in Phillipsburg, N.J., and Alexandria, Va.
“When I started, I was handed a book of business because a woman at our agency went on maternity leave and ended up not coming back,” Pintabone said, who serves as the chair of the New Jersey Young Agents Committee and as a member of the national Big “I” Young Agents Committee. “When I first took over this book of business, you could hear it in their voice. Their lack of…trust or…they just didn’t know if their account was in the right hands. If someone would ask me about a coverage question or ask me for a quote, they would always say, ‘Well, can you check with the agency owner?'”
Then there is the constant questioning from clients: “How old are you?” Those comments can be discouraging, she said. Only time, experience and knowledge can overcome this obstacle.
Being young and female may even be more challenging.
“There have been times that I was questioned basically because I was a younger female,” said Kelly Townsend, chair of the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island Young Agents Committee and personal lines manager for the Paolino Insurance Agency Inc. But over time “people either learned through interaction that I was capable and knowledgeable or they didn’t.”
Young agents can’t be all things to all people and sometimes it’s best to move on, Townsend said.
Those and other obstacles shouldn’t stop any young professional with a desire to excel in the insurance industry.
“You have to know your worth and your value and be willing to fight for that,” Townsend said. “But do give insurance a chance. It’s a fantastic industry and a great way to make a living.”
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