Finding Best and Brightest Agency Talent Demands New Approach

By | April 19, 2021

All talk and very little action.”

Two co-founders of a firm dedicated to helping insurers and agencies meet their talent needs deliver a blunt assessment of the industry’s recruiting performance and what must change to improve it.

“The argument that the insurance industry doesn’t understand the next generation is just a crutch,” says Sharla Floyd, one of the co-founders of Verto LLC. The company name comes from Latin, in which one of the meanings is to transform.

“If we are to attract our fair share of the best and brightest of the current and future generations, only a major transformation in both messaging and outreach efforts will deliver the results we want,” says Noelle Codispoti, the other co-founder. Prior to founding Verto, both women started their careers at insurance companies before working for Gamma Iota Sigma, the national scholastic insurance fraternity.

“Keep the messaging simple and authentic,” says Floyd. “If an agent or someone from an insurer goes to a classroom to talk about insurance careers, keep it real. Tell your best story. Don’t talk about policies and claims, don’t even mention the words. Talk about outcomes, talk about real situations that students can relate to.”

Floyd adds that attitude and approach are also critical elements.

“Agents are great at selling and going after new business,” she says. “Think of the recruiting process as a sales process. It’s about cultivating relationships. You understand the prospects and what they are looking for. You then use consistent messaging, discipline, and perseverance to find the right people. At the same time, agencies and insurers alike need to understand how they are being perceived when they talk to students about insurance careers. Don’t come off as sounding like you are just trying to find someone to fill a spot. Make it clear you want to find the best and brightest and that’s why you came.”

Codispoti adds that agencies should think long-term when building a relationship with a local high school or college.

“Our industry does have a great story to tell but we don’t tell it enough,” says Codispoti. “We can’t preach or lecture or ask for a chance to pitch only when we have a job opening. We all want a quick fix to the problem; however, the solution takes time, and you have to keep at it.”

Floyd says that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 4% of the next generation is looking at insurance as a career.

“That means only 6% of this generation has actually heard about insurance as a viable career,” she says. “Our experience tells us that persistence pays off.”

In 2008, the National Association of Surplus Line Offices (NAPSLO) and the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) launched an ongoing recruiting campaign, regularly showing up on many college campuses year after year.

“When the two associations merged in 2017 to create the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association, recruiting efforts kept right on going,” she said.

Floyd added the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) has consistently maintained strong recruitment efforts.

“Risk managers are not trying to fill entry-level positions,” she says. “RIMS understands, however, the need to attract as many as possible to choose insurance as a career if they are to have the opportunity to find the right people later. The truth is, we need them more than they need us.”

Topics Talent Training Development

About Tom Wetzel

Wetzel is CEO of Thomas H. Wetzel & Associates, an insurance marketing firm for independent agents whose services include a partnership with LivePerson to bring HIPAA-certified messaging and IBM Watson to the insurance industry, the Wetzel Digital Roadmap, website design and maintenance, and content creation. Website: www.wetzelandassociates.com. Email: twetzel@wetzelandassociates.com. More from Tom Wetzel

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