Since the emergence of COVID-19, the employment landscape has changed significantly. Many employers that paused hiring during the peak of the pandemic are now competing to recruit and retain top talent.
For insurance agencies, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are exacerbating this issue. If M&A activity is perceived as interrupting producers’ professional development – for example, if restructuring amid an acquisition leads producers to feel as though a promotion will now take longer, or they have fewer opportunities – they may be inclined to seek employment elsewhere.
Data from OPTIS Partners’ September 2021 agent and broker M&A update reveals that M&A activity is picking up steam, and momentum is expected to continue. According to the data, there were 553 transactions from Q1 2021 through Q3 2021, up 13% from 490 during the same period in 2020. This increase, coupled with the challenging employment landscape, makes it especially important for agencies – whether or not they’re considering a merger or acquisition – to keep producer retention and satisfaction in mind. Following are a few approaches they may find helpful when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
Agency leaders should consider how they can help producers grow professionally. As producers gain expertise—be it in a particular industry or around certain product lines—they’ll be better equipped to become trusted partners to their clients and grow their books of business.
Agency leaders should partner with an insurance carrier that can help them deliver such education. For example, programs such as the Chubb Academy for Midwest Producers (CAMP) offer local producers the opportunity to make agency connections, explore industry-specific subject matter, and engage in professional development training. From courses that focus on advanced manufacturing, life sciences and technology, to sessions on building trust with clients, CAMP offers top performing talent the ability to further their careers.
In the event of a merger or acquisition, agency leaders should be thoughtful in how they approach integrating new colleagues into the agency. Agency leaders should work closely with producers to determine updated growth paths with clear responsibilities and benchmarks, explore additional educational programs to close any knowledge gaps and ensure that there are no duplicative roles to retain top talent.
It’s important to consider the potential impact that centers of influence can have on producers’ business pipelines. For example, agents working with high-net worth individuals should look to build relationships not only with their clients, but also with their clients’ networks of other professional service providers, such as their financial advisors.
Programs like the Certified Advisor of Personal Insurance (CAPI) designation program, which Chubb offers in partnership with Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Aresty Institute of Executive Education, provides producers with the tools they need to optimize centers of influence and enhances their understanding of risks impacting high-net worth individuals.
In addition to centers of influence, tapping into local or industry-specific trade associations can help producers develop their networks. Agency leaders should encourage talent to join local chapters of organizations that can serve as referral sources and contribute to their pipelines.
While new business is important, agency leaders should strive to help producers make the most of existing client relationships, as well. It’s important for producers to show clients that their value extends beyond the insurance services they provide: As true business partners and risk advisors, producers are there to support long-term business success as needs and exposures change.
With this in mind, agency leaders should encourage producers to communicate regularly with their clients about how risks are evolving, and how this may impact their risk management and insurance coverage needs. This may include sharing resources and best practices directly with clients. For example, are there best practices clients should be aware of when it comes to mitigating relevant weather-related risks, such as protecting facilities amid winter storms, hurricanes, wildfires and floods? Are there industry-specific emerging risks clients should know about? Whether gleaned from partnerships with carriers, participation in programs like CAMP or involvement in industry trade associations, such insights offer producers opportunities to demonstrate additional value to clients and touchpoints to continue the dialogue around shifting exposures. As they converse with clients and consider how their client needs are evolving, producers should cross-sell as appropriate, adding insurance coverages to keep clients protected as their risk profiles change.
As they strive to keep top performers satisfied, agency leaders should remember that—while factors like compensation may hold a significant amount of weight—professional development is also important when it comes to employee recruitment and retention. When agency leaders invest in their workforce and their corporate culture, everybody wins: producers are set up for success, and agencies are able to attract and retain the talent they need to thrive.
Walter Cain is Regional Chief Operating Officer for Chubb's Midwest Region.
The opinions and positions expressed are the authors’ own and not those of Chubb. The information and/ or data provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Insurance coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued.