sponsored bySPECIAL REPORTYoung Agents SurveyBy Andrea WellsWhat Young Agents EarnUnder 30,00010.1% 31,000 to 50,00030.5% 51,000 to 75,00026.5% 76,000 to 100,00013.8% 101,000 to 125,0005.9% 126,000 to 150,0004.7% 151,000 to 200,0003.2%More than 200,0005.4%051024 INSURANCE JOURNAL-NATIONAL April 20, 20151520253035The independent insurance agency system is getting older. So much so thatthe average age of a U.S. insurance agenttoday is 59 years old, according to some estimates. And as more than a quarter of theentire insurance industry gets ready to sailinto retirement in the next three years, thenext generation of agency talent — youngagents and agency owners in particular —better get ready to step up.This is good news for young professionalsworking in independent agencies today —those 40 years old and younger.According to Insurance Journal’s YoungAgents Survey 2015, 82.7 percent of youngagents feel very optimistic or optimisticabout their career as independent agents.Agency owners are a maturing group.www.insurancejournal.com
Profile of Young AgentsOlder Side of YoungAccording to the 2014 Agency Universe Study (AUS) published last fall by the Independent Insurance Agents &Brokers of America, the average age of agency principalswith 20 percent or more ownership in their agencies is 56years old, with 18 percent of those principals age 66 yearsold or older. That’s up from just 10 percent of principalsaged 66 years old or older in the 2012 AUS study.While the vast majority of agency principals (82 percent)do not anticipate a major ownership change for at leastthree years, according to the AUS study, the graying ofagency principals will lead to a new generation of agencyowners within the next 10 years.Some young insurance agents are gearing up now for thatfuture opportunity.Hard Work Pays OffJules Roussel, a 26-year-old second generation insuranceagent, is one young agent looking to seize the opportunitiesas the older generation heads toward retirement.Roussel has been an independent agent for about threeyears at Eagan Insurance, an Insurance Journal Top 100Agency with 12 million in property/casualty revenue in2013, located in the New Orleans area of Louisiana.Roussel is no stranger tothe agency world. His father,Wayne Roussel, a vice president at Eagan Insurance,has spent the past 40 yearsbuilding a profitable book ofbusiness and introduced hisson to the insurance businesswhen he was still in highschool.“I went to work with mydad one day to see what itwas like,” the younger Rousselsaid. He admits he alwaysthought his dad’s job seemed“kind of boring” but then hesaw his dad in action. “He hada lot going on that day, I sawhow busy he was. At the endof the day he asked me if Iwanted to be an agent. I said,‘there’s no way I could do what you do.’”Then 12 years later, the son found himself doing the samething. The elder Roussel, at 62, is nowhere near retirement,but Jules knows that someday he will be ready and hopesto take over his father’s book of business at that time.For now, the younger Roussel is happy gaining experience and industry knowledge writing any new account that‘Insurance isa long-termcareer. Youcan’t get intoan insuranceposition andexpect to haveresults rightaway. However,if you can makeit through theslow times,insurance paysoff in the longrun.’continued on page 26www.insurancejournal.com59.8% are 31 to 40 years old;40.2% are 30 and under.Career Choice81.0% consider insurance to be a permanent career choice;16.4% are unsure;70.1% would recommend career choice to another young person but20.6% are not sure they would.Experience27.9% have less than three years in insurance;21.1% have three to five years;26.4% have six to 10 years;18.9% have 11 to 15 years;5.8% more than 15 years.Education60.0% have a college degree;10.2% have a master’s, doctorate or other advanced degree;59.8% have completed or are working on an insurance designation.81.7% have benefitted from an insurance agent mentor.Family Affairs61.0% work in family-owned agencies.55.0% work for agencies generating 1 million to 25 million inproperty/casualty premium volume89.9% are privately held.Employment Status88.9% are independent agents;7.0% presently are sole owners of an agency;13.0% share ownership with partner(s)Ownership Dreams80.0% do not presently own an agency; of these,57.1% would like to own someday but just34.2% report feeling very confident ownership dreams will come true.26.1% don’t beleive it will happen.Working class61.1% work between 41 and 55 hours a week.63.7% target mostly commerical lines;36.3% target mostly personal lines.Gender ID53.3% Male46.7% FemaleHired25.1% were recruited for the family business;24.1% were referred by a friend or family member;15.1% were employee referrals;11.4% answered a job posting;10.4% directly contacted the agency;6.4% used a recruiter;5.3% worked for a competitor;4.8% knew owner from previous employer;4.1% were recruited from college;3.6% used to be a captive agent and just 1.3% used social mediaRecruitment Target57.8% have been offered a job by another agency.April 20, 2015 INSURANCE JOURNAL-NATIONAL 25
SPECIAL REPORTYoung Agents Surveycontinued from page 25crosses his path, mostly personal lines andsmall commercial accounts.“My dad is the hardest working man thatI know,” he said. “I probably won’t ever be ashard-working as he is but I strive to be.”Roussel says his decision to become aninsurance agent came from watching hisfather’s success all these years. It’s a greatcareer path for young people willing to putin the work, he added. But not many youngpeople seek out insurance as a career choiceYoung Agents’ Outlook onTheir Careerin Louisiana. Most of the agents Rousselsees are on the older side of their career,closer to retirement than not. “But if youstick with it and work hard, it’s a careerthat will pay off in the long run.”Teachers to AgentsA growing number of professionals areentering the insurance industry after successful careers in other industries. The sameis true for some young insurance agents.Outlook on U.S.Economy in 20154.2%Very Optimistic13.2%Optimistic51.6%Very Optimistic8.3%16.6%Very OptimisticOptimistic52.8%Cautious31.4%Not OptimisticIndependent Agents' Ability toGrow Personal Lines Market Share7.3%8.5%Cautious52.2%Not OptimisticBelieves 2015 Income WillBe Greater Than 2014Optimistic32.2%Cautious31.1%13.0%2.7%Very OptimisticOptimistic31.3%Cautious43.8%Not OptimisticOutlook on the Future of theIndependent Agency SystemNot OptimisticIndependent Agents' Ability to GrowCommercial Lines Market Share1.5%2.7%17.8%Very Optimistic35.5%OptimisticCautious44.1%Not OptimisticOutlook on Attracting QualityTalent to the AgencyOptimisticCautious54.1%Not OptimisticOutlook on FinancialStability of P/C Insurers1.0%8.3% 13.4%Very Optimistic11.5%30.1%Cautious45.1%Not OptimisticOutlook on Attracting Quality Talentto the IndustryNot OptimisticIndependent Agency Channel’s Abilityto Advance in Technology Use2.7%Very Optimistic45.0%Cautious57.7%5.4%10.0%Very OptimisticOptimisticOptimistic33.2%40.0%Very CautiousNot Optimistic26 INSURANCE JOURNAL-NATIONAL April 20, 2015Very Optimistic58.9%CautiousNot OptimisticNicole Pryde Johnson, a producer forLovitt & Touché based in Tempe, Ariz., hasbeen working in the industry sector since2007. But Johnson spent her first three yearsafter college as a first grade teacher.Johnson says that she enjoyed teachingbut it didn’t allow her competitive side toshine. “That part of me, I had to shelve fora while,” she said. “But I couldn’t ignore mycompetitive nature and the need to challenge myself in a different way so I startedto look at alternative career paths.”That led Johnson to a family friend whohad worked in the industry for 40-plusyears. “I met with him to talk about theindustry and what a sales career mightlook like in insurance. And after numerousinterviews with several agencies in the areaI took a leap of faith and joined the nationalagency Brown & Brown Insurance, which iswhere I started my career.”But while working for Brown & Brown,Johnson kept hitting a roadblock withprospects — that roadblock was Lovitt &Touché.“I found that I ran into Lovitt & Touchéfrequently in the Arizona marketplace andI found out quickly that I was unable totake their clients away from them.” Thatpiqued Johnson’s interest. “I wanted tofind out more about why their clients keptsuch long-lasting relationships with theirbroker and then I realized it was the waythey built relationships — both with theirclients and within the community. Johnsonsays that’s the main reason why she leftBrown & Brown for Lovitt & Touché — tobe able to develop such valuable relationships with her clients.Today Johnson’s clients consist of a variety of large and middle market businessesbut her family’s background in constructionbusinesses has given her a leg-up whenwriting construction accounts. “I feel likehome in the construction industry,” shesays.David Fishel, a 27-year old associate inbusiness insurance for Fort Worth, Texasbased Higginbotham & Associates, alsobegan his professional life as a teacher butcontinued on page 28www.insurancejournal.com
SPECIAL REPORTYoung Agents SurveyWhat Agencies Need to Know About Recruitingthe Next GenerationBy Tom WetzelRecruiting the next generation of talentis not a new challenge but a difficultone. At the recent NetVu15 conference inIndianapolis, a workshop titled “GenerationXYZ in the Workplace” drew a large crowd,many of whom were agency principals seeking answers on how to attract and retainyoung employees.Insurance Journal spoke with three of thepanelists after the workshop includingMarc McNulty of The Uhl Agency, Dayton,Ohio, and the chapter’s new chairman; LynnHarper of the SilverStone Group, Omaha,Neb.; and Kate Foy of Foy Insurance,Exeter, N.H.Each had a different story as to whatbrought them into the insurance industry.Foy started working in the family insuranceagency as a teenager. Harper’s college roommate suggested the industry as a possiblecareer track. McNulty said he “stumbled”into the insurance business when a friendtold him of a job opening at the agencyafter he decided to leave his previous job inanother industry.Harper said the experience has been“better than I expected. I discovered thebusiness is all about serving clients. We takea consultative approach and do not pushpolicies. We want to be a trusted advisor.”Foy knew the business from the beginning but McNulty, who has been with TheUhl Agency for 13 years, was unsure whatto expect but found a home quickly.“I was lucky to have a very forward-thinking management,” he said.Attracting young employees into theinsurance industry takes more than luck.“Agencies need to work more withthe colleges in their area,” said McNulty.“Summer work and internships offerstudents valuable work experience and achance to discover, as we all did, that theindustry offers a great future.”McNulty says it’s also critical that agencies develop clearly-defined career paths.28 INSURANCE JOURNAL-NATIONAL April 20, 2015“Young employees want to take onresponsibilities quickly, which is usuallyunrealistic. They need to see, however, how they can advance and build acareer.”Recruiting young agents is not difficult when management instills the rightagency culture, says Harper. “We havedeveloped clear career paths, educationtracks, and offer the ability to work fromhome,” Harper says. “We have a numberof committees to give employees a rolein the operation, including ones coveringwellness and fun. We actively encourageall of our employees to serve on a committee and to be part of the culture.”McNulty says his agency doesn’tworry about prior insurance experiencewhen hiring.“We can give themthe insurance training,”he said. “What we’relooking for is the rightpersonality.”53.8%These young agentsagree that technology is47.0%another key to attract63.0%ing young employees.13.4%Millenials rely on smart35.8%phones and social media25.3%in both business and27.3%professional life and areless likely to work in14.6%industries that do not36.3%embrace technology.20.9%Foy and McNulty70.6%said their agencies have76.2%always supported tech29.9%nology. Harper said sheactively pushed for a11.0%technology upgrade.90.5%“Our challenge is to62.8%show owners that tech52.1%nology allows agencies39.7%to do more with less. To11.4%do that we need to citesuccess stories and a63.3%clear game plan.”continued from page 26found his way into the insurance industrywhen a friend’s father approached himabout opening a branch office for a smallagency.After graduating from college in 2010,Fishel signed on with Teach for America asa high school math and special educationteacher for two years. While working onhis master’s in business administration theopportunity to enter insurance arrived.“A good friend’s dad was one of themanaging partners of Talon Insurance andthey were looking to expand operations innorth Texas and he approached us to opena branch office in Fort Worth,” Fishel said.Up until that point, Fishel admits he’dnever thought about a career in insurance.“Never once in my life did I think I’d be ininsurance but I absolutely love the industry,”he said. “I think it’s one of the best keptsecrets out there.”With very little knowledge about theWhat Young Agents DoAttend local business or community meetings.Attend insurance trade association meetings.Volunteer in the community.Get involved in local politics.Attend church regularly.Participate in a sports league.Belong to country or athletic club.Teach or write articles on insurance.Attend meetings of industries I insures.Speak before business and community groups.Use Facebook.Use LinkedIn.Use Twitter.Write a blog.Use an iPhone or other Smart phone device.Use an iPad, Kindle or similar device.Utilize insurance coverage or other checklists.Utilize web conferencing.Utilize a provider of sales leads.Take insurance courses on the Internet.www.insurancejournal.com
10 Things Young Agents Like ‘Best’About Insuranceinsurance industry, Fishel and his partneropened the branch office. But just a fewmonths into business, Talon was purchased by Higginbotham in January 2014and both Fishel and his partner joinedHigginbotham’s team in its Fort Worthheadquarters.“It was a blessing,” he says. “Talon wasa great organization, but Higginbothamhas the resources and support we needat our fingertips. As a new producer thathas been very significant.” Higginbotham,an Insurance Journal Top 100 Agency, wrotemore than 60 million in property/casualtyrevenue in 2013.Fishel is excited about what’s ahead.“There is a huge opportunity in the next10 years to pick up a lot of business left byagents who will be retiring,” he says.Not EasyBut acquiring those accounts may not beas easy as some think.The long-lasting client and broker relationships that Lovitt & Touché’s Johnsonfound appealing about the independentagency system are also one of the biggestchallenges for young agents trying to attractnew business, says Nicholas R. DiCarlo,risk management consultant at J.W. Terrillbased in Chesterfield, Mo., also an InsuranceJournal Top 100 Agency with more than 17 million in property/casualty revenue in2013.DiCarlo has been an independent agentfor nearly seven years but is a seasonedinsurance professional. He previouslyworked for a direct writer for eight yearsprior to entering the independent agencychannel. He joined the independent sidefor the chance to earn a higher total incomeand have ownership in his book of business.But it’s not an easy path to take, he says.Most young professionals who enter theindependent agency world don’t understand how difficult it is to be successful,DiCarlo said. “Most don’t realize how hardthey will have to work — at first. They seeall the glamor, and not all the grinding, thatneeds to place initially.”1. Hard work, dedication, drive, and education pay off quicklyin this industry.2. Being an independent agent gives you the opportunity towork to find the best option for the client, not to just sellthem what is available.3. I like that I have the ability to work with different marketsbecause all of our clients’ needs are not the same.4. Freedom to set own schedule.5. You’re essentially self-employed, but also working on ateam. The job offers flexibility and there’s a ton of rewardfor hard work.6. Being able to help people protect the things that matter tothem. There is always something new to learn.7. I like that I have the ability to learn about multiplebusinesses, and determine the coverage that best fitseach client.8. Relationships with my clients and co-workers.9. Being able to give back to community. I have a greatwork/life balance and great compensation.10. Every day is a new challenge.10 Things Young Agents Like ‘Least’About Insurance1. Not being offered ownership in my book of business or apartnership opportunity.2. The public distrust of insurance agents.3. Lack of confidence some clients have with a young brokereven knowing that the young broker is well prepared.4. Dealing with the constant company changes in guidelines,rates and underwriting.5. Technology tends to be lagging behind other industries.6. The ramp up period of the first three years.7. The lack of continuity and efficiency in the industry. Everyinsurance company manages their quoting processdifferently. It makes it extremely difficult to be efficientand accurate.8. Some carriers lack of technology such as e-signatureand e-apps.9. Lack of people to guide or mentor me in the insurance field.10. There aren't enough young agents.continued on page 30www.insurancejournal.comApril 20, 2015 INSURANCE JOURNAL-NATIONAL 29
SPECIAL REPORTYoung Agents SurveyDoes Age andGender Matter?The number of female young agentsresponding to the Young Agents Surveygrew in 2015 — 46.7 percent were femalewhile 53.3 percent were male. In the 2014,only 39.5 percent were female.While the gender gap appears to be evening out, at least in terms of young agentsparticipating in the survey, some believegender bias still exists in the agency ranks.The survey revealed that some 41.8percent believed the statement that theindustry offers men more opportunity thanwomen was “basically true,” while 22.4 percent had “no opinion” on that statement.One survey respondent wrote: “I don’tlike that it is primarily women in administrative or account manager roles and men insales. I feel like it should be more even.”Another noted that while her agency is“progressive” she gets the “old boys club”feeling, especially at industry events. “WhenI go to a conference I feel like I took a timemachine back to the ‘60s. It takes a lot ofgrace and patience to put up with the sexism and cultural ignorance of my peers.”Being young and a female is challengingtoo, another respondent said. “I feel thatbeing a woman and being young gives me adisadvantage. I do see that business owners and commercial clients, both men andwomen, seem to feel more comfortable witha male salesperson.”Nicole Pryde Johnson, a 32-year-old agentfor Lovitt & Touché based in Tempe, Ariz.,says that while insurance is a male-dominated field, that hasn’t prevented her fromachieving her goals or seizing opportunities.“Females offer many different advantages,and I choose to focus on those,” Johnsonsaid. “For instance, many males tend to betransaction based, rather than relationshipbased. I always strive to build personal relationships with my clients.”Johnson also believes more women in theindustry should strive to help other womensucceed. To help in that regard, she’s working on creating an informal women’s groupto promote mentorship, networking andlead generation.30 INSURANCE JOURNAL-NATIONAL April 20, 2015continued from page 29It’s hard to build a book of business inthe beginning because new agents mustsever an often tight bond between the prospect and their old agent. “Your job is moreor less to break existing relationships andmost of the time those are pretty strongrelationships especially if you are calling onlarger accounts,” DiCarlo says. “It’s very challenging and sometimes takes many years.”It’s doable, he says, but not withoutpatience and perseverance. “You have to generate enough activity so that you are positioning yourself with those prospects.” A lotof people that come into the industry wantimmediate success, he says. “But you have tounderstand it’s about developing and positioning yourself for long-term success moreso than anything.”While the opportunities for young agentsare plentiful, even young agents recognizethat the career is not for everyone.“I’ve watched many young, new agentshired into the insurance industry as producers for independent agencies, but I canonly think of only one person who didn’tquit. Most of them resigned after one to fiveyears. This job truly requires a special typeof person to succeed,” one respondent inthis year’s Young Agents Survey said.Added another: “This career takespatience, which most people of my generation don’t have. We want everything, and wewant it now.”About the SurveyInsurance Journal’s Young Agents Survey 2015polled more than 400 young agents nationwideon their opinion about the industry, their agency,and how they feel about being an insurance agent.Insurance Journal wishes to thank ForemostInsurance for serving as this year’s Young AgentsSurvey sponsor.How Young Agents View the Property/Casualty IndustryCustomer servicePublic imageTreatment of employeesProfessionalismExcellentOpportunitiesfor advancementGoodFairPoorEthicsCareer attractivenessto young professionalUse of technologyMarketing com
agents and agency owners in particular — better get ready to step up. This is good news for young professionals working in independent agencies today — those 40 years old and younger. According to Insurance Journal's Young Agents Survey 2015, 82.7 percent of young agents feel very optimistic or optimistic
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