Time to Rethink Your Account Manager Recruiting Strategies

By | September 21, 2020

Year after year I have found that insurance agencies spend 60% of their recruiting activity on account management hires. This far overshadows the combined time spent hiring producers, managers and executives. With such a consistent need for experienced client managers, most firms have built a transactional model to handle a large volume of hires. While it creates some efficiencies, the downside is it can throw your recruiting into a rut.

Do you feel like your account manager recruiting process is rote? Has it been several years since you’ve pumped new creative juices into attracting service talent? The fall is the perfect time of year to try new strategies. Now is when you make a big push to recruit experienced account managers. I urge you not to use the same old process. Try new things. Push different agendas. Tout benefits and perks that are important to your audience.

  1. Talk About Compensation Immediately. There are two reasons for this. First, as an agency you are comfortable discussing salary and variable commission because you do it all the time with producers. Second, account managers by and large have the complete opposite comfort level when it comes to discussing money. By initiating a conversation touting strong earning potential (now and as your career advances), you remove an obstacle the candidate has with their current employer.
  2. Work-At-Home Is a Major Priority. If COVID-19 showed agencies of all shapes and sizes one thing it’s that work-from-home is possible on a grand scale. You might be old school and hate the idea, but I can promise you will hate poor employee retention even more. Since June 2020, as agencies formulated return-to-work strategies, Capstone has had over 90% of all account manager applicants cite flexible work schedules, split 3:2 office/home working arrangements or 100% remote as their number one search motivation. These candidates come from other agencies … and it might be yours. When you don’t offer work-at-home schedules account managers find the benefit elsewhere. If you embrace a plan like this, then scream it from the rooftops to stand out among competitors during the recruiting process.
  3. Virtual Office, Virtual Training. By extension of working from home comes the ease of making the job transition. Account managers don’t always get the luxury of an 8 am-5 pm job. They work early mornings, nights and weekends. They resent agency leaders who are unwilling to acknowledge their hard work and sacrifice. You can foster a culture of work/life balance while also still supporting client managers during times that aren’t conventional. In every job offer, I want you to provide a company issued laptop, cell phone (or reimbursement plan) and online, new hire training programs. This way, from day one of their employment to day 365, the account manager has the flexibility to learn, grow and be successful both in the office and outside of it.
  4. Unlimited PTO. According to MetLife’s 2019 U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, which interviewed over 2,600 full-time employees, 72% expressed interest in receiving unlimited paid time off. If your reaction is, “No way. It’ll never work,” then you’re out of touch with how account managers feel and what benefits they value. Several Top 100 independent insurance brokers have unlimited or discretionary PTO policies. They use this as a major selling point in attracting and retaining client service talent. How do you put a price on time? Your answer could lie in unlimited PTO.
  5. Titles = Career Progression. Have you ever wondered why global brokers are so successful hiring and retaining young talent? It’s because they have multiple layers of basic agency titles. For example, CSRIII, Sr. Account Manager, Benefits Consultant, AE/Team Leader. Titles signify to account managers that there is potential for growth. It’s the same idea as the corporate ladder for underwriters and claims at insurance companies. You differentiate your position, culture and commitment to career progression when you emphasize titles during the recruiting process.

About Mary Newgard

Newgard is partner and senior search consultant for Capstone Search Group, a national recruiting firm dedicated to the insurance industry. For questions and comments, email: asktherecruiter@csgrecruiting.com. More from Mary Newgard

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Insurance Journal West September 21, 2020
September 21, 2020
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