Why Young Agents Are the Key to Choosing an Agency Management System

agency management system

24 years ago the World Wide Web arrived along with America Online & Netscape (remember those guys?).

Somewhere around 90% of Young Agents today had access to Internet in their childhood. The older end of Young Agents negotiated reports and term papers with the use of the Internet in college or high school. The younger end of the Young Agent spectrum have had a smart phone since 7th grade!

And here we are in 2015, and many of our agency management systems still remain offline. The youth of today is trained at the youngest of ages to negotiate the newest of technology.

But not in the insurance industry. Many college graduates today, who have been nurtured by technology and all of its benefits, are forced to step back into an era not even the roots of their youth can comprehend.

As agency owners/principals I believe we have an obligation to arm our producers with the most productive technology available.

Not High Tech, but Productive Tech

It isn’t all about high tech, advanced, innovative.

These words can be used incorrectly when talking about the bottom line- “production.”

Isn’t that the word that turns heads? In the end – does it produce PRODUCTION?!

You see, no one has an obligation to provide their agents or staff a fancy keyboard or wireless mouse- these are perks.

But what about necessities?

What about tools that give my agent a competitive advantage, save me gas money, save me the expense of paper, save me time, save me headache, save me MONEY, and make me or my agent/staff more sharp?

Most agency principals think, if it isn’t broke- why should I fix it?

Do you attend product meetings with your carriers?

Why shouldn’t you with your agency management system?

Do you attend meetings about your agency management system – or do you send a CSR?

Your agency management system is your most valued asset.

It’s working when you are asleep. It knows where potential E&O claims exist. If you can agree with this, why then send another employee to learn about your “most valued asset?”

Why would you want someone in your office to know more about your most valued asset than yourself?

Most agency management system user groups have become heavily CSR attended. Crazy! Nothing wrong with sending a CSR- but why not yourself?

We have quit caring about what we need and want out of agency management systems.

Why?

See Also: The Digital Insurer: Adapting to the Modern Insurance Consumer {Report}

Who Makes Agency Management System Decisions?

The people with buying power predominately in charge at most independent agencies are over the growth chapter in their career. Most of the principals/owners took the leap of faith and got automated in the mid 1980’s.

That was a huge effort.

Very few have changed systems since then. But the technology so many agencies are using has become painfully outdated (circa 1985).

But something is happening… Principals, though not yet out of the business, are differing all decisions in technology (websites, agency management systems, social media, etc…) to their young agents.

This is not abnormal.

Most baby boomers look to their children’s generation when purchasing a TV, a phone, Netflix, or Amazon prime, and not only that- they want their children’s generation to come set it up once it has been purchased.

The boomers are vastly influenced by Generation Y when it comes to technology.

But that’s not where it ends.

What about Generation Y? Who influences them? Commercials? Their parents? The radio? Advertising Emails?

No! Generation Y is influenced by their own peers.

They don’t even care if they know the person in the physical world. Ever bought a device online and a couple weeks later they ask you to do a review? Ever seen a Generation Y person on Facebook say, “traveling to Washington DC- where do I eat and where do I stay?”

As I said before, “Something’s happening!”

Let’s come full circle now. The Young Agents are now in a position to make, or at the very least influence their principals on technology decisions.

Young Agents are constantly talking at conferences, email groups, Facebook groups, and webinars about what they want and need in agency management systems. It’s happening all over the country.

Young agents are getting stir crazy.

They want more.

They NEED more.

Why?

Because they know that the capability is out there.

See Also:  Disaster Is Only A Click Away: Protect Your Online Assets With These Tips

The Technology Exists

Let’s put our industry into an example. Take an agent today around the age of 26. He or she has probably had a smart phone their whole life.

They arrive at their agency to work, and begin working in a system – that to them- appears to be ancient.

That morning they were awakened by their smart phone.

They checked all their emails before they got out of bed, they programmed their K cup coffee machine to be ready by the time they ate breakfast, watched the news on their iPad, and then went to work.

Then they stepped back into a time warp and frustration set in.

They compare their software device at home to that of a modern day flat screen TV – it can be compatible with multiple devices, can hook up multiple devices to it, and can be upgradeable without purchasing a new one.

They compare their software at work to be like grandma’s old wooden cabinet TV. Nothing can hook up to it, nothing can go out of it, and it can’t be upgraded when a new feature arrives.

Houston, do we see the problem?

Conclusion

And so here we are 24 years after America Online showed up in our homes. Direct access to the Internet. Websites. And we are still off line. Away far away from the cloud as we could ever be.

Sure, you can keep on keeping on. Nothing is wrong right? No problems? It’s been good to us so far? Right?

But the question is – do you know what you are missing? Do you know what is out there? Do you know that you can get more?

It’s time you really look at what is out there.

What could be out there. What needs to be out there.

Here are just a few cloud based agency management system solutions:

So what kind of technology would be nice to have?

What questions need to be asked if you make a switch?

Thank you,

Boyd McGehee

Advantage Subscription

About Boyd McGehee

Boyd McGehee is a producer at Talladega Insurance, the nation’s third oldest insurance agency. Boyd is also chairs the National Board of Young Independent Insurance Agents.

Posted by: yacmichigan | July 8, 2015

Data Nugget: How Millennials Want to Do Business

Data Nugget: How Millennials Want to Do Business

By / Jun 1, 2015 reprinted from Associationsnow.com

A new survey shows millennials’ preferences for B2B interactions differ in some key ways from organizations’ current practices.

In a survey of executives responsible for business-to-business purchasing decisions, millennials showed clear preferences for researching and engaging with vendors that differed from their organizations’ current practices. Association membership recruiters and industry suppliers, take note.

Millennials: How does your organization engage with vendors during the sales cycle currently, and how would you prefer to engage with vendors?

Face-to-face meetings

Current: 69 percent
Would Prefer: 24 percent

Email

Current: 37 percent
Would Prefer: 69 percent

Phone

Current: 22 percent
Would Prefer: 62%

Social Media

Current: 21 percent
Would Prefer: 19 percent

Live/video chat

Current: 20 percent
Would Prefer: 21 percent

Text message and other IM

Current: 18 percent
Would Prefer: 24 percent

Source:To Buy or Not to Buy? How Millennials Are Reshaping B2B Marketing,” IBM Institute for Business Value, 2015

Posted by: yacmichigan | May 28, 2015

Why Hiring Millennials is a Win-Win

When Bruce Winterburn, vice president of industry relations at Vertafore, bought a small-town independent agency a few years ago, he installed his 24-year-old son Cam as the principal.

The agency, which was 80 years old and had attritted down to a quarter of its original size, has since enjoyed incredible success—even though the team “didn’t do anything tricky other than bring in fresh insight,” Winterburn says. “This is where millennials can really have a positive impact—their ability to be a trusted advisor and consultant and build relationships in established communities.”

Gen Y staffers have a lot to offer your agency. But attracting them to the insurance industry is no easy feat—and retaining this job-hopping demographic requires a sharp shift in agency culture.

What Millennials Can Do for You

Millennials often bear the blame for the demise of the local relationship due to the perception that they prefer online communication and instant access to a personal touch. But ironically, community building is actually a skill most millennials are born with.

“People point to the past a lot of times, saying ‘you can’t do that in this modern age,’” Winterburn says. “I call BS completely on that. It’s exactly the opposite. The youth are involved in communities that reach farther out than anything their parents could do.”

Thanks to social media, millennial communities are digital communities—but that doesn’t make them inferior. “Millennials build relationships in a way that is much more efficient,” Winterburn says. “They still need to be able to shake someone’s hand and look at them in the eye and come to work on time and do all of those things, but if you cover those basics, they also bring in this ability to establish relationships digitally—and they’re earnest, true relationships.”

It’s because the digital economy is constantly evolving—and millennials are right at the heart of it, Winterburn says. “They reinvigorate what has made independent agents important in the past: the ability to establish a relationship within a community,” he points out. “They greatly expand the definition of both community and relationship.”

“I think what they’re doing is they’re dragging us to think differently,” agrees Lynn Harper, service manager at SilverStone Group, an independent insurance agency in Omaha, Nebraska, who participated in a panel called Generation XYZ during Vertafore’s NetVU conference in April. “Obviously they’re more prone to use technology. They dig in.”

Considering the wealth of progress millennial employees can bring to an agency, buying into stereotypes about this demographic of potential hires can therefore be a big mistake.

“When you hear these negative statements, usually it’s someone in my demographic who’s making them because they really just don’t appreciate how culture has changed,” Winterburn says. “I’m vice president of industry relationships for a billion-dollar insurance software firm and I will argue that my 21-year-old college daughter can influence more people instantly than I can.”

“We hear the common set—they don’t have work ethic or things of that nature, and it’s comparatively not true,” Harper agrees. “You just need to know what drives them, what motivates them, in order to get the job done.”

– See more at: http://www.iamagazine.com/strategies/read/2015/05/28/why-hiring-millennials-is-a-win-win#sthash.6XfQYyzN.dpuf

Sen. Debbie Stabenow touts Alzheimer’s legislation in Saginaw

Reposted from MLive.com, April 6, 2015, http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2015/04/sen_debbie_stabenow_touts_alzh.html#incart_river

SAGINAW TOWNSHIP, MI — Michigan’s senior senator is on a mission: to provide a better support system for the estimated 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s and more than 15 million friends and family members who serve as their caregivers.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow stopped at a newly-constructed elder care facility in Saginaw Township Thursday, April 2, to talk about legislation she has introduced to accomplish that mission.

“The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be terrifying for individuals and their families, especially when they don’t know what’s happening and don’t have a diagnosis,” Stabenow said. “The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will give Alzheimer’s patients and their families the information and support they need to cope with this heartbreaking disease.”

Stabenow met with about 50 people in Saginaw to talk about the legislation and issues surrounding the disease.

If enacted, she said, the new laws would created a new care management program under Medicare to help patients, their families and caregivers to develop individual treatment plans for those suffering from the chronic neurodegenerative disease.

“This really is a family disease,” Stabenow said.

As a venue for the discussion, the senator chose the new Great Lakes PACE facility at 3378 Fashion Square Boulevard in Saginaw, which plans to begin offering a one-stop-shop for various elder care services starting on May 1.

One of those gathered to talk with the lawmaker Thursday was Christine Stockford, who works as a social worker at Great Lakes PACE.

Stockford said she could relate with something Stabenow said about a lack of support systems available to the families of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“I was that family that was impacted,” she said. “I was that daughter on the Internet searching for what to do. And we really would have valued someone who could come in and talk with us and educate and give us resources and places to turn to. So I very much support your effort and really appreciate it.”

Stabenow acknowledged that finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is also of primary importance, saying she is working with others in Congress to call for additional funding for research at the National Institutes of Health. She said he goal is to get $2 billion set aside for Alzheimer’s research.

“That can happen,” Stabenow said. “That should happen.”

She pointed to a statistic that shows $1 of every $5 spent through Medicare is spent on Alzheimer’s treatment, saying that finding a cure and finding more efficient means of treatment has the potential to dramatically reduce healthcare costs in the long-term.

Susan Erspamer is vice president of chapter programs for the Greater Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Erspamer said another way ordinary people can help find a cure is to help link researchers running clinical trials with patients at all stages of the disease. The easiest way to do that, she said, is through the “trial match program” available on the association’s website, ALZ.org.

Erspamer praised the senator’s efforts, saying much can be done to help all those the disease impacts.

“There is no cure for the disease,” she said. “But there is a lot we can do for the families and those with the disease so they can live a happy, healthy life.”

The association, Erspamer said, has already been able to get $150,000 in funding through the state government for a three-county pilot program that sends social workers into the homes of Alzheimer’s patients to help create care plans.

The program, which is running in Macomb, Monroe and St. Joseph counties, is very similar to what Stabenow’s legislation would achieve on a much larger scale, Erspamer said.

Karen Courneya, director of the Saginaw County Commission on Aging, told Stabenow that local agencies like hers are prepared to offer more education and treatment programs to help patients and their families. But there is a gap when it comes to funding for those programs, Courneya said.

“We have all of the systems already in place,” she said. “Really, the money is an issue. We stand ready.”

The two bills making up the legislative package Stabenow is promoting are collectively called the “Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act,” and have been introduced as S. 857 and H.R. 1559.

The bills were introduced on March 24 and 25. The Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Finance and the House bill to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means.

Mark Tower covers local government for MLive/The Saginaw News. Contact him at 989-284-4807, by email at mtower@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Posted by: yacmichigan | January 9, 2015

Top 3 Tech Trends to Watch in 2015

Top 3 Tech Trends to Watch in 2015 by Bruce Winterburn

Reprinted from Independent Agent Magazine 1-9-15

2014 saw great leaps in the insurance industry’s adoption of enterprise technologies that are now proven to increase efficiency and agility. Will 2015 bring much of the same?

As we head into the New Year, expect technology trends to center on customer interaction and powering a more seamless customer experience. Here are the top 3 tech trends that will impact the independent agency channel in 2015.

The Social Handshake

Twitter and Facebook help us connect with customers to better understand their insurance needs—sharing pictures and stories online while responding to questions, compliments and sometimes even complaints.

But successful modern agencies are also taking the next step: using social media data to target customers based on personal hobbies and interests. Analysts agree that social media advertising in the United States will top $8 billion in 2014 and $9 billion next year.

It’s particularly important in a time when online insurance alternatives abound. This form of advertising transforms the grassroots level of business from the putting green, where people cemented business with a handshake, to the computer screen, where the digital signature takes the lead.

At the end of the day, insurance is a business where the relationship is paramount. The goal is to develop a bond that lasts beyond the first policy renewal, and that shouldn’t change. But the journey to that handshake has changed forever, and more and more agencies are realizing that it requires a multi-channel strategy including both local service organizations and the global power of social media. The approach enables even the smallest agency to compete with the largest by targeting potential customers wherever and whenever they are interested in your coverage.

In 2015, we’ll see more independent agencies embrace social media, analytics and multi-channel engagement technologies to grow their business and nurture their current customer base like never before.

Generational Forces

From all sides of the insurance spectrum, millennials are inspiring a digital revolution thanks to not only their interaction preferences, but also their insurance policy needs. As customers, millennials have specific preferences when it comes to interacting and managing their insurance policies: They expect to communicate over multiple channels and touch points including, online, mobile, apps, instant message and social.

This age group also has different insurance needs than older generations, in large part due to the emergence of “sharing economy” services. In fact, millennials are less likely to become homeowners than young adults in previous generations, according to the recent Council of Economic Advisers report from the White House. An agent’s ability to acquire millennial customers ultimately depends on his or her ability to provide an experience most fitting for the group’s lifestyle.

From an insurance agency perspective, no one understands millennials better than younger agents. Having grown up in the era of social media, they’re incredibly adept at leveraging the power of not only their own networks but those of their friends to reach potential customers. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find younger agents running social campaigns on LinkedIn or Facebook or growing their social followers with thought leadership pieces of their own that speak directly to the customers they’re looking to acquire.

Agencies looking to grow in 2015 will focus on attracting millennial talent and adapting their customer acquisition approach to better cater to younger, tech-savvy customers and their insurance needs.

Cyber Liability Surge

The increasing reliance on the Internet has resulted in a growing need for online protection in the form of cyber liability. Once considered a “specialty” form of insurance relevant only to the biggest agencies and wholesalers, cyber insurance is rapidly becoming more commonplace in mainstream America and consequently the average agency that services that business.

According to a recent study completed by Aite Group, “How Independent P&C Insurance Agencies Are Thriving in Today’s Competitive Marketplace,” cyber- liability insurance is emerging as an effective growth strategy among fast-growing agencies. In fact, 50% of agencies reported an increase in sales for this type of coverage over the last 24 months, and 44% of all agencies have diversified into new coverage and product types like cyber liability and identity theft protection—strategic product lines that provide more opportunity to deliver value.

In 2015, Vertafore expects cyber liability insurance will be the biggest growth area for independent agents selling commercial lines of insurance.

The fundamental tenets of business for independent agents still apply, but the technologies made available to modern agents have greatly expanded. To what degree agents leverage these tools will continue to separate the best from the rest. Drawing from the insurance technology hits and misses over the last 12 months, agents now have the foundation to capitalize on the latest advances in social, analytics and mobile in order to improve customer engagement and inform critical business decisions. Fast-growing agencies in 2015 will be those who rid themselves of inefficient legacy infrastructure and outdated processes, instead opting to embrace evolving market conditions to provide more value to their customers.

Bruce Winterburn is vice president of industry relations at Vertafore. – See more at: http://www.iamagazine.com/viewpoints/read/2015/01/09/top-3-tech-trends-to-watch-in-2015#sthash.zFnmtvgk.dpuf

Posted by: yacmichigan | December 4, 2014

What the IA Channel Can Learn from Girl Scout Cookies

What the IA Channel Can Learn from Girl Scout Cookies

Reprinted from Independent Agent Magazine, December 2, 2014

While the news may not rival Neil Armstrong’s “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” a sea level change has occurred that should give all independent insurance agents pause to contemplate the ramifications.

This week, the Girl Scouts of America announced a new digital platform—Digital Cookie—that will allow Girl Scouts to sell cookies over the Internet. The platform is not a direct distribution initiative—sales must originate from a Girl Scout, and not all Girl Scouts will have access to it. The structure of the Girl Scouts involves councils at the local level that make decisions for the troop, and whether or not to implement the digital sales service will be a council-by-council decision. Girl Scouts enrolled in the program will also have the new option of taking in-person orders using an app and credit card reader with a tablet.

The Girl Scouts have an enormous distribution base, counting almost two million customers, with more than 80% of the girls selling cookies every year to bring in some $800 million annually. Aside from the ability to increase their reach by going digital, an important fulfillment aspect applies to the digital effort—it enables delivery of the cookies directly to the consumer, rather than waiting for the Girl Scout to deliver the cookies when she finally receives her order.

Aside from boosting sales, Girl Scout leadership points out the significant benefit in getting girls interested in digital initiatives at a young age. The Girl Scouts have always touted the cookie program as a way to lay the groundwork for good business and negotiation skills, and the digital program is modernizing those skills by using apps and teaching participants about online marketing. Scouts can customize their pages, using their first names only, and email prospective customers with links to click on for orders. They can even include videos explaining who they are and what they plan to do with their proceeds. The websites will not be accessible without an email invitation, requiring the girls to build client lists. And personal information is as safe as any out there for both the scouts and customers, using encryption in many cases.

During a week when Cyber Monday continues to draw a large number of holiday shoppers, the Girl Scouts’ foray into the digital world should serve as a motivating force for independent agents to harness the Internet as an important component of their distribution strategy. Of course, providing sophisticated insurance policies is not as simple as selling cookies. But using the Trusted Choice brand and TrustedChoice.com to attract consumers is a great place to start.

Dave Evans is a certified financial planner and an IA contributor. – See more at: http://www.iamagazine.com/viewpoints/read/2014/12/02/what-the-ia-channel-can-learn-from-girl-scout-cookies#sthash.cGi78MjS.dpuf

Posted by: yacmichigan | November 3, 2014

How to Embrace a Multigenerational Workforce

How to Embrace a Multigenerational Workforce

by Morgan Smith – Reprinted by Independent Agent Magazine, October 31, 2014

Which mindset best describes your employees: Work comes first? Live to work? Work to live? My life comes first?

Chances are, it depends on their generation.

For the first time, four generations exist in today’s workplace—prompting discussions about how agencies can attract young talent while also maintaining seasoned professionals.

At September’s Big “I” annual Fall Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, author, speaker and coach Sherri Elliott-Yeary discussed “how to attract young agents, but also how to build so you’re ready for the future so for the next 20 years.”

As part of the “Engaging a New Workforce—Multicultural, Multigenerational, Multifaceted, Multitalented” session featuring two speakers and a panel discussion, Eliott-Yeary dissected each generation to provide agents with insights and strategies about both short-term, day-to-day work flow and long-term perpetuation planning.

Traditionalist: This generation believes in dedication, sacrifice and approval. Growing up in the depression, traditionalists have an “I don’t have” mentality and shape the attitude behind maintaining the same job until you get the boot. This generation believes you save now in case of the future.

Baby boomer: As the leaders of divorce rates in the U.S., baby boomers harbor a hint of personal satisfaction. A lot of boomers are busy building and moving up the corporate ladder. What motivates boomers? Higher titles, the corner office, nice business cards and a big bonus.

Gen Xer: They’re sandwiched in the middle and have started bridging the gap between boomers and millennials. Gen Xers are more accepting of diversity and were to the first generation to embrace technology. Because the majority of their parents were divorced, they ended with an “I can learn this on my own” mentality.

Millennial: This generation is incredibly optimistic and enjoys working in teams. Millennials believe in growing across the industry and gaining as much experience in every area possible, because they get bored so easily. You can thank technology for that.

But when your workforce is made up with people who all have a different set of needs and motivations how do you engage them, attract them and keep them going?

“Have some understanding and be willing to coach, because sometimes that’s all it takes,” Eliott-Yeary said. “It doesn’t matter what age group it is or where you’re from—you have to be able to motivate and engage in a way that’s authentic and with integrity, because that’s how you’re going to have the winning formula to get the best of the best.”

Elliott-Yearly called it “generational DNA”—year of birth and generational personalities enable self-identification with a generation category that best fits our individuality. That means you could be a baby boomer by age, but a Gen-Xer by personality.

Elliott-Yearly suggested using this insight to ask your staff what generation they feel most connected with—then leveraging that knowledge from generation to generation. What a millennial knows about technology, a baby boomer knows in building relationships. That knowledge transfer can make or break an agency in today’s increasingly multi-generational environment.

Consider the two competing workforces in the economy currently: boomers and millennials. Where boomers are climbing a career ladder, millennials are building a lattice framework. Boomers believe “If I win, I win”; millennials believe “If the team wins, I win.” “There’s an opportunity to have crashing instead of collaboration, but you have to find a way to help them all think they win,” Elliott-Yeary explained.

And what about getting those younger employees on board in the first place? According to Elliott-Yeary, the average number of jobs a millennial has before the age of 35 is 10.2. That means your agency has approximately eight months to woo, engage and motivate employees of this young generation. Help them grow and keep them engaged, developing a working plan for when their to-do list is completed or cross training to keep them enthusiastic about their work.

“In the new workplace, we need to foster diversity and increase engagement if we’re going to reduce the time the millennials leave while our boomers are staying in the workforce longer,” Elliott-Yeary said.

See more at: http://www.iamagazine.com/strategies/read/2014/10/31/how-to-embrace-a-multigenerational-workforce#sthash.0pmNX0dK.dpuf

Posted by: yacmichigan | September 19, 2014

What Goes Into a Successful Mentor Relationship?

What Goes Into a Successful Mentor Relationship?

Reprinted from Associations Now Online Magazine, http://associationsnow.com/2014/09/goes-successful-mentor-relationship/?utm_source=AN%2BDaily%2BNews&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20140918%2BThursday

What’s This? Associations Now Brand Connection provides opportunities for advertisers to connect with the Associations Now audience. All content is paid for by the advertiser. The Associations Now editorial staff is not involved in creating this content.
By / Sep 18, 2014(iStock/Thinkstock)

One mentor/mentee pair share their perspective about the tactics to forge a rewarding mentor relationship.

The mentoring relationship can be somewhat of a mixed bag—sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

When it works, though, mentoring has the power to change lives, at least according to one recent study. So, what does it take to create a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

Part of the formula may rest in happenstance and luck—personalities and schedules don’t always click—but there are several steps mentors and mentees can take to ensure a win-win relationship.

One tactic that worked for Juan Amador, CAE, director of diversity policy and programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges, was to seek out a mentor who he thought could help advance his particular career needs, which happened to be improving his communication and presentation skills.

“I needed some help with visibility, with communication, with being more confident about talking about myself and expressing myself and my points of views,” he said. “It’s not that I couldn’t do that, but once you get to a certain level, there’s an art to it.”

So, when it came time for the mentor selection process that’s part of ASAE’s Diversity Executive Leadership Program, of which Amador is a participant, he requested Susan Neely, ASAE board chair and president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. Instead of waiting to be paired with someone, Amador took the initiative and asked for someone he knew had the communications expertise he could learn from.

“I took a risk,” Amador said. “I put myself out there because I knew she would either say yes or no. Luckily, she said yes.”

Amador’s proactive approach didn’t stop there. Once matched with Neely, he initiated meetings, introduced himself to and got to know her support staff, provided her with email updates, and made sure he could provide value to Neely as well.

“I asked her what she wanted to learn from me,” said Amador, who was happy to provide Neely with an insider’s view of DELP and the ASAE member experience.

It’s important for mentees to think strategically about their mentor relationships, Neely said. “Know the background of the mentor. Ask questions that relate to the mentor’s experiences. Even if those experiences are not completely related to your ambitions, there may be insights you can glean. Have a mental agenda of questions you want to ask or things you want to tell the mentor when you meet. Keep the mentor posted on your successes and progress.”

All this isn’t to say that the responsibility for the relationship lies in the hands of the mentee. Amador credits Neely’s generosity and receptiveness for a large part of their relationship’s success.

“She invited me to ASAE functions and to networking and social events and to her home,” he said. “I got to experience things with her, and then we’d talk about them. Just being at these events with someone who is very senior and very visible in the association community, certainly among her membership, I could observe the way she talked with members, the way she presented herself.”

From her perspective, Neely also advised that mentors get to know the hopes and dreams of their mentees.  “Not just the professional ones but personal as well,” she said. “It’s not possible to separate one from the other. I look at my own life in its entirety because what I do career-wise affects my family life and vice versa. With my mentees, we talk about it all.”

Neely said she also makes a point to explain to mentees that all she can share is her perspective. “Only they can make the decisions that are right for them.”

Do you have advice on what it takes to create a successful mentor relationship? Let us know in the comments.

InVEST Insurance Education Program Adopted by Chicago High Schools, reprinted from Insurance Journal online magazine, August 19, 2014

InVEST, the insurance industry’s classroom to career education program, announced that all Chicago Public School Career and Technical Education (CTE) finance programs will now offer its curriculum to seniors.

The program is a key incentive in attracting new talent to the insurance industry.

“The InVEST program offers a unique chance for our CTE Business and Finance students to apply their business skills to solve real-world problems,” says Kye-Anne Wilborn, Chicago Public Schools Career & Technical Education (CTE) senior program coordinator. “They learn about career opportunities in the insurance industry and experience the responsibilities and contributions of different jobs in the field. The program provides everything needed to reproduce the workplace in our classrooms and the students love it! This program is a great opportunity for all students and especially students in business curriculum programs across the country.”

The following Chicago schools now offer the InVEST program: Ace Technical Charter High School, Austin Business & Entrepreneurship Academy, Harlan Business Academy, Kelly High School, Richards Career Academy, Schurz Business & Finance Academy, Simeon Business & Finance Academy and South Shore International College Prep.

Robert G. Slocum, InVEST board chair and president of The Slocum Agency Inc., an independent agency in Warwick, R.I., said the National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA), the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois, the Big ‘I’ Young Agents Committee of Illinois and the InVEST company supporters helped make the partnership possible.

InVEST develops future industry professionals by educating high school and college students about insurance, risk management and financial services. More than 19,600 students in 545 InVEST programs across the country participate each year and graduate equipped with knowledge to help them pursue careers in an agency, company or other insurance industry organization. InVEST contributes to the education and development of future insurance professionals through academic programs and scholarships.

In high schools, the program offers students a business curriculum which teaches them about the dynamics of insurance agencies and companies. At the college level, the program develops students’ risk management and financial analysis skills.

As a 501(c)(3) educational trust, InVEST benefits from the support of numerous insurance organizations, hundreds of agencies, brokers and volunteers. The program provides the insurance industry with motivated, talented and intelligent professionals through a support structure of state associations, board members, national staff, teachers and the many industry professionals who work in the field as classroom liaisons.

Founded in 1970 and based in Alexandria, Va., InVEST promotes insurance education in order to attract individuals to pursue a career in the insurance industry.

Young Agents Rate Flexibility, Career Growth Over Technology: Vertafore Survey

Reprinted from Insurance Journal Online Magazine

By Amy O’Connor | August 14, 2014

Technology is not an incentive when it comes to attracting and retaining millennials to the insurance industry but it can provide overall job satisfaction in terms of flexibility and career growth opportunities, according to a new survey released by insurance technology provider, Vertafore.

The survey looked at responses from 414 executives throughout the insurance industry – with 166 (40 percent) of respondents under the age of 40 – to determine how technology is shaping the younger generation’s decision to enter and stay in the insurance industry.

Guy Weismantel, vice presdient of marketing at Vertafore, says his firm’s goal was to “get in the mind” of young agents and find out what motivates them in their careers. Vertafore considers the number of young agent respondents to be a representative sample of the number of this age group currently in the industry.

“As a technology company, it helps us to understand how our customers work,” says Weismantel. “It is incumbent on us if we want to be known as an innovator that we understand the motivations of potential users of our products and how they use them in their lives as agents.”

Weismantel says the results were surprising, with only 51 percent of millennial respondents rating technology as “very important” to keeping them in the industry. More important than having access to the latest technology in an organization was work/life balance, with 78 percent of young agent respondents saying that was what would keep them in the industry, followed by enjoyment of work at 66 percent.

“Technology is important, but in an age group of people that grew up with it, it is expected… and less of a differentiator than we thought it would be,” says Weismantel.

The first-ever survey of this kind by Verafore was sent by email at the end of July and early August to multiple nationwide databases, including NetVU’s Young Professionals Chapter. The survey was administered and analyzed by Vertafore.

Ashley Brower-Whitney, vice president at Harbor Brenn Insurance in Petoskey, Mich., and a member of the NetVU Young Professionals Chapter that worked with Vertafore on the survey, says the results are in line with what she has experienced at her own agency.

“If you think about technology, it is embedded in [young agents’] lives. It won’t make them stay longer at a company but we do need to continue to innovate,” she says.

The survey results also indicated that job satisfaction among young agents was also very high, as 84 percent responded that they plan on staying in the industry for “as long as possible.” Insurance Journal’s Young Agent Survey released this past spring found similar results, with 86.3 percent of young agents considering insurance as a permanent career choice.

Weismantel says technology does help contribute to young agents’ feelings of job satisfaction, as they are often looked at to help push new technology and ideas forward in an agency and that plays a role in their overall happiness and feelings of worth in their career. 47 percent responded that they had the greatest chance of influencing “streamlining processes” and 37 percent said “adopting technology.”

“When you add in a younger person they apply a new way of thinking to how to grow a book of business or help it become more vibrant… the older generation is increasingly looking to the younger generation to help them do this,” he says.

Young agents indicated that being given the opportunity to impact an agency’s performance, having their ideas heard and a say in the approach to how the business is run were also big factors in the decision to stay on the insurance career path.

Young agents also appreciate the way technology has enabled them to have job flexibility in the insurance industry by allowing them to work from home or keep abnormal office hours, thus being able to manage that work/life balance they cited as being so important.

Brower-Whitney says in the 16 years she has worked for her family-run agency, she has found that the new generation doesn’t want their lives to just be about work, something that the survey results also reemphasized.

“The concept of the 9-5 business day is really gone and with technology in place you can have flexible work schedules and develop work from home opportunities without it costing a lot of money for the agency. It is a lifestyle benefit that employees are really enjoying,” she says.

Agencies should utilize technology in a way that will provide these opportunities, especially those that are looking to attract young talent, says Brower-Whitney. Insurance Journal’s “Young Agent Survey” results also cited having a flexible schedule as one of the things young agents “like most” about their career as an independent agent.

“If you put the right procedures in place and have the right people it can really be beneficial for the agency,” she says. “With the work/life balance being so important to young generations, there are opportunities here for agencies to really rethink how they do things.”

The survey results also found that young agents find Facebook to be the most valuable social media tool because of the enhanced customer relationship it can offer. 42 percent of respondents said they use the social media site more than once daily, compared to 69 percent who had never used Twitter, 64 percent who had never used Instagram, and 29 percent who had never used LinkedIn.

Weismantel said responses from young agents said helping people and being a part of their customers’ lives were part of what they enjoyed most about being in the insurance industry.

“Young agents see what they do as helping someone on the front lines or being there in those times when they really need someone to help, such as in the event of a flood, fire or death and there are few professions that have that ability,” he says. “I think that appeals to this segment of the population who want to make a difference.”

The survey didn’t specifically look at young agents compensation requirements or desires, but did ask them how compensation ranked in terms of the importance of staying in the insurance industry. Interestingly, it ranked below work/life balance and enjoyment of work at 54 percent.

Browers-Whitney says while compensation is important to any employee, there are many other factors that go into job satisfaction.

“I think there are a lot of people who look at the entire range of what they are getting out of this career and compensation is not the end all be all and it is not the most important thing for these young generations,” says Brower-Whitney.

Weismantel says the results of the survey should be encouraging to those in the industry who want to bring in more young people because the turnover rate once they are hired and trained is very low. For Vertafore, he says the results will help the company in its own product development and how it targets the next generation of agents.

“The number of agencies we work with is growing…there is a lot of opportunity and the barrier to entry is quite low – and technology has helped that,” he says. “Once the younger generation gets [in the industry] they want to be here. That’s awesome to see, I think.”

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 422 other followers