Execs Say More Can Be Done to Attract New Industry Talent

May 8, 2008

Young agents today face a number of challenges, including the soft market, a downturn in the economy and learning the skills necessary to become a profitable and successful agent, while the industry continues to struggle with attracting new recruits.

Neal Wolin, president and chief operating officer for the property and casualty operations of The Hartford, says carriers play an important role in helping to replenish and recruit new industry talent, including talent for the independent agency system.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time investing in our Hartford School of Insurance, so we can help attract and then train producers and CSRs for agents, and help them really learn about insurance, about the coverages, about distribution systems, about technology, and also about sales, so that they can be hugely productive in their agencies going forward,” Wolin said.

Cynthia Young, president of Allstate’s independent agency insurer, Encompass Insurance, says the industry needs to do more to promote itself as a possible career choice to young people.

“If you talk to a lot of people in the insurance companies, they’ll tell you that their career in insurance started by default, not by design,” Young said. She says more needs to be done to attract and retain young people. “It helps to be able to find people earlier and sooner, to bring them into insurance careers more by design as opposed to by default.”

Young believes an opportunity exists for the industry to ramp up its education efforts to help people understand that there are great and promising careers in insurance. “There are so many different things that you can do within the industry and really feel that you’ve got a fulfilling career over time,” Young said.

The Hartford’s Wolin says the good news might be that once young professionals enter the insurance industry, they generally stay.

“The insurance business is the lifeblood of our economy, and I think that critical role in the basic operations of the private enterprise system and markets make it incredibly clear to people how important what they do is,” Wolin said. Plus, it’s just an exciting time to work in insurance, he said.

“There’s just so much change and so much innovation, so much to be excited about, that engages folks in relationships and in new technologies and in new ways of doing business,” Wolin added. “I think we find on our side that people come in, they see the change, the amount of interesting work, the importance of that work, frankly how fun it is to be involved in some of these issues that are on the cutting edge and they get very, very excited, very passionate about it.”

Encompass’ Young added that every sector of the insurance industry – carriers, agents, brokers and intermediaries �need to really understand how important what they do is to the global economy. Insurance, after all, is “the oxygen of our economy � it is an essential part of a sustaining economy, the bedrock really of our economic system,” Young said.

Both Wolin and Young were part of a panel on young agents at the Big “I’s” Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., April 2-4. To watch the video interviews of Wolin and Young visit, https://www.insurancejournal.tv/videos/1908/.

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