June 27, 2019

Some Things Age Well. A Recruiting Project Is Not One of Them.

by Mary Newgard

The President of a $70MM revenue insurance agency first contacted me in August 2018 about perpetuating his role. Planning to retire at the beginning of 2020, he’s a managing producer with a legacy book valued at over $2.5MM in revenue. The agency cannot afford to lose his clients. Plus, he takes great pride in what he’s helped to build and wants to help find the ‘next generation’ hire.

Fast forward to today (June 2019) and this agency isn’t any closer to launching its search.  You might wonder, “How can that be?” but this is surprisingly common in the insurance industry. Unlike expensive cheese and fine wine, recruiting projects to not improve with age. Delays affect thousands of professionals in different ways.  If you’re seeing this unfold in your insurance agency, the first question is Who Am I In This Story?

  • I am the Account Manager who is worried about having a job once the producer retires
  • I am the Account Executive freaked out that retention, growth and client management will become my responsibility
  • I am the Managing Producer guilty of not prioritizing my replacement above other business activities
  • I am the Other Executive who struggles to organize thoughts and create a recruiting plan

Why An Aging Search Is Bad For Business

  • Change
    • Companies and candidates are constantly changing. What was true for the details of your business or the viability of prospective candidates differ from one day to the next.
  • Suspicion
    • You must be transparent with candidates. When they ask how long the position has been in the works and you say- 18-24 months- they will immediately have concerns.
  • Retention
    • Customer and employees aren’t stupid. Client service suffers at the hand of vacancies. Employees are buried under the weight of doing two jobs. College recruits don’t sign with schools when the head coach has a year left on the contract. Neither do clients.
  • Indictment
    • Staffing shines a light on an insurance agency’s inability to be strategic or forward thinking. It’s not lip service. When you don’t plan for the future, commit money to a hire or structure a search, you’re a sitting duck in the M&A world.

An Outline for Planning A Leadership Search

First, please reach out to discuss a search that’s long overdue to begin. Contact me at mnewgard@csgrecruiting.com or 515.216.5454.

Second, my March 2019 Ask the Insurance Journal column, “How and Where to Start When An Agency Leader Retires”, has a step-by-step planning guide to gather and organize important information to launch your search.

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