Insurance advisers and agency leaders. You've met them. Most are happy with their career choice, well remunerated and get opportunities to travel the world. Yet not a lot of young people talk about a career as an insurance agent.
But it is not a problem confined to Asia or your home market. Even the insurance industry in the US – a market which is developed and matured, and where agents enjoy a more professional status and are held in higher regard – faces the same talent attraction issue.
So if you are an agency leader or an aspiring leader working hard at recruitment, let’s take a look at the findings from a US survey below so you can draw a lesson or two – or at least take comfort in not being alone.
One key point that stood out, and most of you in the industry would agree, is that “they first shied away from insurance as a career, but once they got into it, they liked it”. Guess it is pretty universal in that aspect.
Insurance Agency Survey
According to the “Insurance Agency Salary Survey 2018” in the US by Insurance Journal, more than 68% say their compensation is fair, 87% are optimistic about their careers, and almost 80% would recommend their career to others.
With just three to five years of experience, insurance agency managers/owners are paid more than $90,000 on average, while sales producers earn close to $70,000.
More than 40% of all insurance agents under age 40 earn above $75,000.
Benefits including group health, annual bonuses and 401(k)s are competitive as well. Eighty-percent of insurance agencies offer group health while 68% have a 401(k) plan.
Yet, the career as an agent isn’t often appreciated by young job seekers.
Not a perfect picture
It's not a perfect picture, of course. Like younger workers in other industries, insurance agents are impatient with some aspects. They want faster and better technology in their agencies and in the insurance companies they represent.
"Young agents are split on how they rate the property/casualty industry's use of technology overall," says Wells.
The survey revealed that young agents are split on the Property & Casualty industry’s use of technology with 51.1% rating the industry as "excellent" or "good" in terms of its use of technology while nearly the same number of young agents (48.9%) rated the P&C industry as "fair" or "poor" in this area.
More survey findings:
Over 50% of millennials use social media to vet insurance agents
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Young agents also want to see more young professionals. It's an industry that skews older right now, so there is definitely room for young talent, said the report which also noted that many older agents are retiring.
Once they got into it, they liked it
A number of the younger agents Andrea Wells, editor-in chief of Insurance Journal, spoke with in reporting on her survey acknowledged they first shied away from insurance as a career, but once they got into it, they liked it. They have come to appreciate the agency culture.
Young agents cite the flexibility, freedom and work/life balance they enjoy. A large majority of respondents rate their own agency's telecommuting, flexibility and work/life balance as either "excellent" (39.5 percent) or "good" (29.6 percent).
"One women agent, a former attorney, summarised her positive feelings by highlighting the work/life balance that her insurance career provides. She values the control she has over how much she can make and appreciates working in an industry that values her personal time," she said.
Agents also likes the challenge of the work. "No day is the same, no client's the same, so it's constantly challenging and really encourages me to grow," an agent told Wells.
Another feature that appeals to younger job seekers is that most agencies are very involved in their local communities (65%) and community involvement is seen as part of the job.
The stability of the insurance industry is also a key factor in why young agents choose a career in insurance. Some 78.5% of survey respondents are "very optimistic" or "optimistic" about the agency business in general while they overwhelmingly (92.1%) view the outlook for their own agency as either "excellent" or "good."
The survey report which had nearly 1,300 responses from agents under the age of 40 is available for sale. Insurance Journal is based in San Diego, Calif and serves the P&C insurance industry.
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