Best Study: Agents, Insurers Raid Competition for New Employees

June 28, 2005

When insurance companies and agencies go looking for new producers, they rely mostly on referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations, and they say the best places to look for those new recruits are other insurers and agencies, according to a recent Best’s Review survey.

“Our best producers mainly come from three origins,” said one survey respondent. “They used to be good producers in other insurance companies; they were good sales (people) for another product, but they demonstrate their ability in insurance as well; (or) they had no sales or insurance background, but they are willing to learn new things quickly.”

Respondents, 72% of whom are agents, brokers or advisers, also named colleges, wirehouses, banks and their own organizations as fertile recruiting ground.

In addition to referrals, some had success with seminars, networking activities and advertising in national publications that are insurance related. Job fairs, employment agencies and advertising in newspapers don’t work, they said.

To keep good sales professionals, respondents advocated “fair, realistic and consistent compensation,” “good support team and market availability,” “training opportunity” and “providing them with every opportunity to help grow a book of business and later let them take care of a portion of the business and add to it on their own.”

Micro-managing was named most often by respondents as a technique that didn’t work to retain good producers. One respondent explained the problem as “my-way-or-the- highway strong-arm employment methods and treating the agents without respect (in) considering their opinions pertaining to what is actually happening on the street level.”

Changes that insurers and agencies are seeing in agent recruiting include a shrinking talent pool and more demand for ownership of the book of business. “Today we must recruit individuals who are more sophisticated about financial matters and capable of moving into the adviser role vs. only sales orientation. (It’s) much more about process than product,” one respondent said.

Results of the survey are available in the July edition of Best’s Review, published by the A.M. Best Co. For more information, visit http://www.bestreview.com/subscribe.

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