Mary Newgard
Mary Newgard

The Year of the Account Manager

Hiring Process, Recruiting Strategy

March 14, 2017


Client Management Blog 1.jpgA McKinsey & Company study from 2015 made a bold statement: 25% of all insurance professionals will retire by 2018. Not a prediction but based on hard data, when the report was published perpetuation was top of mind for every agency. Which was also when PropertyCasualty360 came out with a list of 7 Things the Insurance Industry Needs To Know About The Looming Talent Gap. 

Unfortunately, the sense of urgency didn’t stick. How do I know this? Because you can relate to one of these traps:

  1. "I don't have a client service opening." 
    You should talk to every experienced candidate when they are looking not when you are.  Break the bad habit of interviewing only with a vacancy or foreseeable opening.
  2. "I need this person ASAP."  
    You waited too about three months to be exact.  Hiring an Account Manager with 5+ years of experience increased by 30 days in 2017 to an average of 90-120 days length-to-fill.  
  3. "I have to maintain internal equity." 
    To job seekers that's code for being cheap and behind the times.  You must get comfortable with large salary and bonus increases to attract talent.  Called ‘hiring for the future’, Account Executives present the most notable challenge to pushing you into more competitive salaries.
  4. "Our agency budgeted for 1, maybe 2, new Account Manager hires this year. We have excellent retention."  Net new hires is a phrase you're going to hear a lot more.  Where will agencies find talent? From competitors, ala you. The 1-2 hires budgeted last year is actually 3-4 hires in 2017-2018. Your contingency plan must account for retirements and unexpected losses.

We’re now less than 12 months away from the exodus in McKinsey’s report. Like a storm warning, when you know it’s coming you batten down the hatches, gather emergency supplies and seek shelter. You don’t think, “Well IF the roof blows off then I’ll figure out a plan.” In the analogy of account manager perpetuation, it’s not a question of "IF." The roof IS blowing off. Are you standing around watching or preparing a plan? Service talent isn’t going to drop from the sky like manna from heaven. You have to go find them and they need to find you.

Client service perpetuation is the single greatest agency challenge.  

  • Producers leave understaffed firms.  They are enticed by agencies with high quality service teams, fully staffed with competent senior account managers and account executives. Client service directly affects organic growth and M&A opportunities.
  • Millennials aren't the answer.  Their numbers don't equal the volume of Baby Boomer retirements.   Agencies must rely heavily on sourcing talent from non-agency backgrounds (carriers, TPAs and General Agencies).
  • Your culture is about to be rocked.  Regardless of generation, account managers have unique wants and desires.  The ability to attract and retain will be based on your attitudes on progressive issues: work-from-home arrangements, pay equity, leadership development and soft benefits.

This is why I’m dedicating a series to recruiting account managers.  I hope you'll stay tuned throughout this year for the results of Capstone’s survey results, testimonials and real time search challenges. You’ll be able to piece together resources to aid your perpetuation plan no matter if you’re starting from scratch or chugging right along.  The information can help address recruiting AND retaining service talent.    


Mary Newgard, CPC, AU
515-987-0242 x454 


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