When it comes to insurance agency hiring, producers and account managers are a broken record. Yes, your agency still needs them, but that isn’t newsworthy.
These four positions gained momentum last year. If they didn’t hit your radar screen then, I can promise you’ll hear about them in 2021. Highly specialized leadership jobs are a hot commodity for agencies in hypergrowth mode.
1. Sales & Service Acquisition Integrator
The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow insurance agency M&A activity, which jumped nearly 20% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a report by insurance consulting firm OPTIS Partners. No longer content to divide duties among the executive team, insurance brokers create teams to assist with sales and service integration. They hire:
- Intelligent, educated and savvy insurance professionals with skills in project management, operations and relationship management.
- Nimble and highly organized individuals who don’t mind being road warriors. They show up on the doorstep of the acquired agency a moment after the deal is closed.
- Insurance professionals are preferred but not required. Talking a little shop with the new employees helps ease the transition. However, this is a great role to pivot a non-insurance professional into.
‘Highly specialized leadership jobs are a hot commodity for agencies in hypergrowth mode.’
2. Chief Information/Technology Officer
Agencies view technology in one of two ways: 1) hardware and infrastructure; or 2) external customer engagement and revenue management.
Understand the fine line between chief information officer and chief technology officer responsibilities so you can fill in similar gaps.
- CIO (or director of IT): An executive focused on information technology, this person understands how the entire digital platform supports an agency’s operating model and productivity. They look at the architecture of cybersecurity, technology utilization, and age and adaptability of hardware. They are critical to enacting a cloud-based environment, especially if your agency pushes further into remote work environments.
- CTO (or director of technology): An executive focused on strategic planning, capital investments, research and development, and ROI investments. The CTO is consumer focused with an eye for client engagement and delivery solutions.
3. Shared Services Leader
According to Insurance Journal (2020), “Non-core assets and the pursuit of cost-effective advancements…” will fuel M&A activity in 2021. You may not want to sell, but you could have something in common with acquired agencies, i.e., consolidation is necessary. Hiring a shared services leader accomplishes your goal to:
- Organize non-revenue generating operations, such as customer service and finance/accounting, into self-contained, highly efficient units.
- Build and/or relocate divisions to low-cost markets. The same reason big tech is moving to Austin, Texas, is why insurance brokers put operations in tier 2 cities.
4. Sales & Operations Leadership
Insurance Journal’s September 2020 article “Insurers Say They Are Having Trouble Recruiting New Employees” cited results from a recent study by The Jacobson Group and Aon.
“U.S. insurers want to fill existing positions or expand their staffs over the next year but say they are still having trouble recruiting, even during the COVID-19 pandemic where unemployment has skyrocketed. About 83% of respondents said they will either maintain or increase their staffs over the next 12 months. But of the 11 functional areas reported on in the study, eight have experienced more recruiting difficulty compared to one year ago,” the article reported.
Recruiting problems at insurance companies are your agency’s crystal ball. Many retail brokers have focused all of their internal efforts on training the next generation in sales and service. This leaves a gaping hole in senior management and executive leadership that can only be filled by hiring experienced, outside talent.
To design a newly created director of sales and director of operations position, ask these questions about how it enhances your senior management capabilities:
- How does this position fit into the organization? Is it a corporate, enterprise-wide role or specific to a division (Commercial or Personal Lines, Employee Benefits, etc.)?
- Is this a two-party system (Sales and Operations are separate), or are we ultimately looking for one leader over the entire practice?
- Can we develop executive leaders?
If not, we need to pay for a ready-made player. If yes, perhaps we can hire a second-in-command from another broker and train them into a promotion.
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