September 1, 2020

I’m An Insurance Producer. Here’s Why I Started A Job Search.

by Scott Thompson

I’ve been an insurance recruiter since 2006. In that time I’ve worked with thousands of insurance professionals in their job search. There is something special and unique about helping accomplished salespeople find a new home. Rarely is the first job we take out of school our last. Typically, I’ve seen most producers work for 3-5 different insurance agencies over the course of their career. 

Haven’t found your ‘forever home’?  You are not alone. If you’re an experienced insurance producer who wants to explore the job market, let me help you make that change. Start with listing your motivations and what you want to accomplish. I bet your list will look a lot like these testimonials. Below is an ‘in their own words’ recap of the four primary reasons insurance producers leave one agency for another.

Reason #1: Compensation

“I was told to never discuss our compensation; the agency’s model was standard for all salespeople. I came to discover that wasn’t the case and felt my compensation as not as lucrative as others or in line with my production success.”

In this particular case, I remember during our first conversation the producer told me he thought he made ‘big time money’. He had a sharing agreement with a senior producer on a multi-million revenue book. He earned a salary plus some commission. They split sales & client management duties 50/50, so in his mind the comp was equitable too.  Not so, the senior producer had a 40/20 split and they basically paid this producer like an AE.  The lingering carrot for redemption is that he would inherit the book once the senior producer retired. The agency had been telling him that for 10 years.

Frustrated With Your Comp?  Take These Steps:

  1. Ask underwriters and carrier reps if they’ve heard of any unique agency models out there. Plenty of ESOP, K-1 and equity based agreements exist in regional agencies.
  2. Talk with friends and former colleagues. Producers who have left before will be honest if you’re getting screwed and tell you how much improvement is possible.
  3. Interview with other agencies. We can help make those confidential discussions in your market. Our clients love when we introduce them to experienced producers from ‘across the aisle’.

Reason #2: Management

“I watched for five years as people with less production got invited to be an owner.  It wasn’t until someone with less experience was invited that I realized that it wasn’t about production.”

There wasn’t a dent in this producer’s armor. Their book was growing, and they were making cold calls; all of which led to them writing more new business annually than the next three producers.  The manager, an old school guy, promoted one of the other producers to come into ownership because this person was a better fit with the company.  What the manager didn’t say was that they had never had a female partner and weren’t in a hurry to promote one, at least until she was done having kids.

Wow. We’re in a time where Diversity & Inclusion are front & center for the insurance industry and this successful female producer had the class ceiling hit her at high speed. If you’ve felt discriminated against based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other reason, know it’s the exception to the way the insurance industry operates. You can find and should fine a company that embraces who you are and what you want to accomplish. 

Frustrated With Management’s Culture? Take These Steps:

  • Seek out a company with a diverse employee population
  • Ask about their retention statistics
  • Ask to see their corporate policies on Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination
  • Follow their social media to see how they tout internal resources like recruiting, training, onboarding, promotions and employee recognition
  • Read Glassdoor reviews to see how current and former employees comment on culture, compensation and career progression

Reason #3: Resources

“I joined my current agency because of the amazing resources they touted. It turns out their service team is lacking quality and sophistication. Plus, they do not have an AE level so I’m responsible for all strategic client consulting, renewal management and risk management allocation.”  

One of my longest relationships with an insurance producer once told me that resources are everything.  He added that you can tell a lot about an agency by the account managers that they hire. He said, “Less than perfect agencies will hire the same type of account manager for every position, and when you need something different, they will just throw another one of the same on top.  Good agencies realize the difference between a $60K account manager and a $100K account executive. 

Frustrated With Client Service Resources? Take These Steps:

We have a saying in our office.  If you cut critical resources, you will cut revenue. 

  1. Does your agency force you to work for six months without an account manager? 
  2. Does your agency focus on niches or only hire a bunch of generalists? 
  3. Remember that your success as a producer is predicated on the following:
    • You aren’t bogged down with service work
    • You have adequate marketing support
    • Your agency encourages specialization

Reason #4: Relocation

“After college graduation my spouse and I moved to the big city where I started my insurance career. Now, we have two children and want to return home for a better quality of life and to be close to extended family.”

Don’t listen to the bad advice out there that insurance producers cannot relocate. They share some song and dance about how it is just too hard for somebody to start over and build new relationships in a new market. This is patently false.  You can move as a producer – I help people do it all the time. 

Frustrated and Ready to Move Home? Take These Steps:

  • Limit your job search to one or two locations at a time – you can always look at more in the future
  • Research the area – make sure you know what type of business is there
  • Schedule a trip on your own dime– reach out to some agencies beforehand and share that you are coming to line up meetings
  • Have a short business plan written up that you can share
  • Tap into industry resources that know the market and can help get you introductions

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