Here's why your young producers aren’t sticking around

Here's why your young producers aren’t sticking around

Here Despite knowing young blood is crucial to the survival of the industry, independent agency owners’ track record for hiring and retaining young producers is not too impressive.

In fact, research from The Middleton Group shows that only one out of every five people hired will go on to become a successful producer. While agency owners may be quick to assign blame to the producers themselves—25% told Insurance Business America their biggest issue is overcoming a lack of work ethic among young people—there may be deeper issues at work.

Noelle Codispoti works as executive director for Gamma Iota Sigma, the academic fraternity associated with collegiate risk management and insurance (RMI) programs. In her efforts working with both young people and members of the insurance industry, she has seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting young people to stay.

One of the biggest issues? Lack of commitment to training and mentoring young employees.

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Codispoti says many industry veterans believe that because they entered the industry without much training or feedback, today’s young people should feel the same. And that’s a problem.

“That’s the worst mindset we can have, and we have to correct it,” she said. “Yes, these vets turned out to be great professionals, but we can’t have taught these students one thing—that they get ribbons and trophies for everything they do—and expect them to act different when they come into the workplace.

“What we fail to remember is that this generation is a product of what we told them, and if we don’t step up and give them a good mentorship experience we’re going to lose them to investment banking or accounting.”

Mentorship is indeed one of the most crucial ways to engage and retain young producers. Whether through a formal program or simply facilitating a connection between new employees and more experienced producers, agency owners ensure young people feel invested and safe.

"If you have people interested in mentorship, that makes all the difference," said Alyssa Bouchard, a new 23-year-old employee with AmWINS Brokerage of Illinois. "I had a fantastic mentor who really just took me under her wing and let me do things of value that I was really excited to do.

"I didn't make copies, I didn't stuff envelopes, I did things I felt added value to the company. It really helped seeing someone a few years older than I was who had been through the same process I had been through, and seeing how successful she was gives me something to really look forward to in the industry."

And it isn't just a time drain on more experienced producers. Becoming a mentor can also be a learning experience for an older producer, especially in terms of new thinking and new ways to utilize technology, said Marla Donovan, a senior adviser with Kaufman Financial Group who has worked as a mentor for countless new employees.

"I really love hearing new ideas. I love when someone shows their thinking a little differently," Donovan said. "I am late to technology so I am delighted when I see a young person solving problems that I used to have to do manually. I think that's wonderful."

Stay tuned Thursday when Insurance Business America takes a closer look at an ideal mentorship, as well as some common pitfalls made in the industry.

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  • MrBill83 7/29/2014 3:02:40 PM
    An other reason is lack of training from our own companies. There are very few sales classes - some are just over priced some are worth the money.
    Post a reply
  • Kristina 5/7/2015 6:35:28 AM
    Stuffing envelopes and making copies are EXACTLY how that older mentor did it! You have to know the trenches in order to win the battle. Your entitlement attitude of not wanting to work the trenches first is the issue. Nothing comes for free and that includes success. You're not "above" stuffing envelopes and making copies, Princess!
    Post a reply
  • R. Davis 8/12/2015 3:17:13 PM
    The bottom line of why young agents are not sticking around is because the principals are indifferent to anything but sales volume. Most are not training, in fact, most can't train. They push the producer overboard to see if they can swim. The goals achieved with these old school methods lead to shaky results. If you treat your sales force like they are selling knives or Amway, how do you expect a good result? If your CSR's are asleep at their desk and are not sophisticated enough to work with the higher end client, then aren't you chasing your tail? A lot of you have done quite well with your agencies and you confuse your past results with being a predictor of your future. I think most of you don;t sleep well and know this is not true. You are simply out of touch and are not willing to delegate or let go of control, or at least some of it. You confront new problems wit hold ideas and most of what I am seeing is pride pushing this. Then of course when it starts to slip you sell off to a bank and get roped into an agreement where you stay on board for X amount of years but really you sit on your hands waiting on it to expire. So young producers...are we to go along with for this ride while usually locked into some non-compete or unable to maintain our own book? Are we to look inept because some agents boss insists on using a fax machine? Please, my words could go on for a while and while they are direct, they are not intended to be angry. It just seems so obvious to me. The coming soft market is going to ruin quite a few retirements. A lot of you made huge errors by not cultivating a sales staff and delegating. I see it every day. Kristina above clearly exhibits the old school work ethic that values suffering over goal oriented behavior. She makes an excellent example. You no longer understand the people you are selling to so it is impossible to hire and cultivate those that do.
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