June 5, 2019

Why Is It So Hard To Find Commercial Service Staff?

by Mary Newgard

I love the show Say Yes To The Dress especially when they feature brides who have lost count of how many wedding dresses they’ve tried on. They always bring a picture in of what they want and then tell the stylist they’ve tried on 100 gowns and nothing is right!

Staffing can be as maddening as wedding dress shopping. For insurance agencies the one role that seems to be an ongoing issue is commercial service. Finding experienced Commercial Insurance Account Manager puts agencies from $3MM in revenue to $200MM in revenue at a loss for words. Based on what I’ve experienced in the market, I think I know the reasons why and what you can do to change your success finding talent.

Three Reasons Why Your Agency Struggles To Find Commercial Account Managers

  1. Benefits is #1: The number of Benefits Account Manager jobs Capstone has recruited for from 2018-present compared to Commercial Account Manager positions is a 3:1 ratio. The hiring activity for agencies, talent development, resources and money has all been driven to group benefits. Agencies have not restocked or refreshed the P&C talent pool you can pull from.
  2. Flat Infrastructure Kills Progression: The world isn’t flat but a lot of insurance agencies are! What that means is the talent pool looks homogenized. Everyone has a Commercial CSR or Commercial Account Manager title- regardless if they have 2 years of SBU experience or 20 years of risk management exposure. You’ve witnessed this first hand if you feel like your market is full of ‘re-tread candidates’- people who apply for the same job every time. That happens when all the titles, job descriptions and organizational structures look the same.
  3. Money Isn’t Used As a Hook: Because employee benefits divisions, by and large, are growing at a much faster rate, agencies are experiencing bigger ROIs and able to use money as a way to entice talent. Commercial divisions are more reluctant to do this based on margins and revenue management. When $ isn’t one of the biggest weapons in your recruiting arsenal, you lose out on a lot of chances to engage with passive candidates.

Improve Your Success Recruiting Experienced Commercial Service Candidates

Create More Variance Within Your Roles– If your job postings, title and requirements look like every other agency’s in town, then so too will your candidate pool. Play around with some of these changes.

  • Title: Rather than Account Manager try elevating the position’s responsibilities to Client Manager, Account Executive, Client Executive, Service Advisor.
  • Requirements: Include key terms in your job advertisements that relate to the book they will manage. List carriers, revenue size, average account/premium size, verticals/niches & locations.

Tout Compensation PLUS the Total Package- If you want to win on salary put that range out there in a job advertisement. If you’re less enthused about big salaries go with the total comp package. Perks of any kind, traditional or soft benefits, score major points with account manager candidates.

  • Benefits plans- options, costs, retirement/ESOP and what your agency will contribute.
  • Bonus- This is creation of wealth for an account manager. Outline how incentive plans work, what they are based on and when they are paid out. A lot of account managers see this as close to guaranteed income as a salary.
  • Time is Money- Place a value on work/life balance by instituting corporate wide work-at-home policies, flex time, summer hours, floating holidays, VTO and commuter benefits.

Location Doesn’t Have To Be Your Achilles Heel- I cannot stress enough the power of finding top notch talent with remote arrangements. New faces AND niche experience only surface when you expand your geographical possibilities. Trust that experienced insurance professionals have the skills (tech/AMS savvy, working in teams and handling client engagement) to know how this works in your four walls and outside of it.

For more on insurance recruiting, and filling critical staff openings now, read my May 2019 Insurance Journal “Ask the Insurance Recruiter” column Remote Employees: Your Biggest Game Changer To Fill Openings NOW.


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