Chances are you have at least once received a gift and your first thought was: “Thanks?”. That question mark means you either don’t know what you’ll do with the gift or you didn’t want it in the first place. Both are not great reactions. Unfortunately, this is how some people feel when it comes to insurance agency perpetuation.
Something as large and meaningful as your independent insurance agency shouldn’t be received with hesitation! Whether you’re turning over ownership to a blood relative or a member of your larger agency family, it’s important to have both the giver and receiver on the same page. To avoid an uncertain or unwelcomed transition, both need to be prepared for perpetuation.
Start planning now: There is no “too early” in planning your agency perpetuation. Some suggest starting as early as your mid-30s. No matter what age you are, it’s a good idea to put thought into how your agency will transition now.
Get a plan in writing: Focus first on defining milestones and a final end date. You should also consider incentives for employees to stay past the transition, client care plan, successor mentorship, and your ultimate goals for perpetuation.
Keep your plan fresh: Perpetuation is a big deal, and can’t be completed in one shot. Review your succession plan annually and update as needed. Include your successor in these reviews if you can.
Track and integrate agency progress: Part of your annual review of your plan should include analyzing agency data. Keep track of how you’re doing through reports generated by your agency management system.
Get your accountant involved: There are multiple tax implications involved in agency perpetuation. Depending on how and to whom you pass on your agency, you may have to pay more taxes or get a break. Get your accountant involved right away to ensure you’re ready.
Tips for the Receiver: Respecting Past Practices and Making the Agency Your Own
Be a part of the plan: Be part of perpetuation planning as early as possible. Let the owner take the lead, but don’t be shy about inserting your ideas. It’s important to be upfront about expectations.
Decide on owner involvement: One big item to plan ahead is how much the giver will be involved after the transition. Be clear about what you want, yet keep an open ear to what the giver intends. It’s best to negotiate these items, along with anything involving cost and compensation, with a third-party, preferably a lawyer.
Practice patience: Be patient and practice compassion as you take ownership. The independent insurance business is relational, meaning there are a lot of emotional attachments to the agency itself. There can be some strong feelings that come with change.
Embrace innovation…slowly: Transition is the perfect time to try something new. But, don’t change everything at once. Come up with one or two areas to start with right away. Move to others as time goes on, giving staff and customers time to adjust.
Consult with staff: To help ease transition, consult with members of your agency before implementing anything new. Ask for input on how to implement the changes you have in mind and be clear about why you feel they’re important. Ask for their opinions on what other improvements can be made. Focus on building trust and gaining employee buy-in: you’ll need both before making any new moves.
Leveraging Your Consistent Resource: Your Agency Management System
One thing that will be there on both sides of your transition is your agency management system. This is a great tool for setting up your agency to transition. And, it will create a sense of stability for your staff as ownership is transferred.
At SIS, we’ve helped multiple agencies work through a variety of transitions. Whether it’s moving from a legacy system to our all-in-one, web-based Partner XE management system, transitioning staff roles within the system, or providing all-staff training for a fresh start, we’re here to help.
To find out more about SIS, the services we provide, and our leading agency management system, Partner XE, visit us at sispartnerplatform.com.
The holiday season is a mix of looking back and looking forward: being thankful for what has been and looking ahead to what will be. We combed through our independent insurance agency resources to uncover a bit of both.
We came up with was a few interesting facts about working in insurance, many of which showed off the prowess of the industry. We also looked at current trends and how they can predict what’s ahead in 2018 and beyond. Check out our lists below!
Why Insurance is Here to Stay
Ranked as the largest market globally on a premium-dollar basis, the US insurance industry has one of the highest growth potentials¹
Total US industry premiums were a whopping $1.1 trillion in 2016 (53% life/health and 47% property/casualty), according to S&P Global Market Intelligence²
In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 insurance companies in the United States, with approximately 2,500 devoted to property/casualty, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners²
6 million people were employed by the US insurance industry in 2016, according to the US Department of Labor²
The industry totaled $157 billion in revenue so far in 2017, with a steady annual growth rate of 3.7%³
Reach for creativity and innovation! 67% of respondents to a PwC survey cited these elements as “very important” to their agency success⁴
Thanks to crash avoidance technology, auto claims could be reduced by as much as 12% by 2034⁵
However, advanced tech will lead to higher vehicle repair costs: the average cost of repairs jumped up 3.8% in 2016 and continues to rise⁵
Insured customers value self-service options, according to a recent CallVU report showing 80% of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers preferred accessing and updating their policies online⁶
But don’t go all digital yet. 57% of respondents to the same survey said they preferred personalized face-to-face interactions or phone calls⁶
How to Move Forward
What do these stats mean for your agency? Now is a good time to take solace in the industry’s staying power and make some changes to help you and your customers reap the benefits. Check out some of our eGuides to help map out changes in your agency. Remember to take one step at a time, using small movements to make big changes.
And, take a look at some of the latest Partner XE extensions: the Partner XE Client Portal and Partner XE Proposal Creator. Both were designed to help agencies and customers harness the power of the digital age while keeping the important customer/agency connection that makes independent insurance so great.
But, why is it so hard to get millennials into insurance?
This question has those in the industry scratching their heads. The hard truth is insurance has a bad rap. A 2015 research study by The Hartford showed 18 to 34-year-olds saw the industry as boring. Overall, only 4% said they had an interest in insurance.
But, once millennials are in insurance, they plan to stay. According to a Vertafore survey on millennials in the industry, 81% said they’d stay as long as possible, and 70% would refer working in insurance to friends.
Ok, so how can the insurance industry recruit millennials?
The best way to bring in millennials is to speak to what they’re looking for in their job and career. And, connecting those needs with what is already offered in a career in insurance. Some key areas to highlight are:
In that same Vertafore survey, 81% said financial stability was a big factor in why they stay in insurance. Like all career seekers, millennials are looking for a place that has longevity, and the insurance industry has just that. As long as people own things, they’ll need to insure them. Few industries can promise that kind of stability.
78% of Vertafore respondents listed work-life balance as an attractive part of working in insurance. Millennials like being independent and setting their own hours. Working in insurance gives them the freedom to work flexible hours, work from home, and manage their own schedule.
Though they love their independence, millennials also look for opportunities to collaborate. In insurance, they’ll constantly be working as a team to help customers and problem-solve on ways to meet their needs.
Making an impact
Millennials are looking for ways to be difference-makers, working to improve the world. Insurance agents, CRMs, owners, carriers, and all individuals in the industry are there to help people at the worst moments in their life. Now THAT’S making an impact.
Millennials came of age in a start-up culture. Most are looking to be their own boss, or at least have a say in where their company is going. Independent agencies offer that “start-up” feel, allowing each employee to feel they have stock in the business.
Additionally, 75% of respondents to the Vertafore survey said “career development” was a major factor in why they loved their job in insurance. With so many Baby Boomers retiring, millennials have great growth and influence opportunity in insurance right off the bat.
The next challenge: getting them to stay.
While the industry has many aspects that make it appealing to millennials, it’s up to you to foster a culture that gets them to stay.
Part of that is setting up ways to welcome new staff and get them up to speed on processes and tech, including how to use your agency management system. To help our partner agencies grow, we at SIS offer personalized training sessions and dedicated online and in-person support so new employees can hit the ground running. Giving millennials that jump-start into your agency can be a game-changer.
To find out more about SIS, our Partner XE management system, and how we help our partner agencies achieve success, contact us at [email protected].
In your busy agency, mistakes are inevitable. Your goal is to minimize errors, especially oversights in insurance agency accounting. Accounting errors are (literally!) costly and can cause a domino effect of issues throughout your agency.
How can you avoid these issues? By utilizing the one tool that touches each part of your agency: your agency management system. Your management system has the means to prevent errors from happening and, if needed, clean up your accounting messes when the inevitable happens.
Preventing Accounting Mistakes
Make preventative practices the norm. Leverage your agency management system to do the following:
Utilize direct bill commission download
Put producer commissions on policies
Establish agency-wide processes for entering financial info
Audit yourself regularly
Get integrated accounting to stop double-data entry
No matter how closely you watch or carefully you step, you and your agency staff are only human. Mistakes happen. When they do, know what tools you have in your management system to fix them. Use your system to:
Unapply incorrect client payments
Void improper checks
Unpost checks attributed to the wrong account
Unreconcile bank statements
Close/reopen months when posting items in the wrong period
How do we know these preventative and restorative practices? We got them right from our SIS team, who work with our clients daily to help them stay out of trouble…and get them out when the inevitable happens. We want our clients to feel secure in reaching out for help, allowing us to fix their issues so they can worry about bigger things.
Whether it’s a quick morning jog, coffee in the car, or a shot of espresso at your favorite cafe, we all have a part of our morning routine that gives us that “Hello, today!” boost. Could your agency use that jolt, too?
Whether its tech tips, marketing tricks, news and information, or anything in-between, take advantage of the advice and inventiveness provided by great minds in the industry.
Agency Nation: Though specific resources are named on the list, the site itself has a wealth of information. Choose from articles, podcasts and a weekly video show uncovering the latest trends and tactics in independent insurance.
Insurance Thought Leadership: True to its name, this site brings together great minds in the industry. Read articles, listen to podcasts, or check out one of three blogs, including one focused on innovation.
The GROW Program: Stemmed from a social and digital marketing business, GROW offers a blog and podcast for agencies looking to hone branding and expand exposure.
Carrie Reynolds: Carrie has been at it since 1996, including creating her own brand, Insurance Goddess. Show co-owns her family-run agency and goes full throttle in insurance branding and marketing.
Coverager: With a focus on insurance tech, Coverager is a curation of what’s up with insurance, innovation, and the tools that make it happen. Check out its “Coverage Ponders” section for engaging articles.
Agency Checklists: Based out of Massachusetts, this site provides the latest in agency, insurer, fraud, and other industry news. It’s the straight facts owners need to make the best decisions for their business.
The conversation about improving your agency doesn’t have to stop at gaining tips and tricks. Keep the conversation growing by sharing your insights with your colleagues. We encourage Partner XE users to share their latest ideas through our Partner XE user community.
Whether it’s meeting at our regular Regional Learnings, shaping the Partner XE experience as a member of a workgroup or connecting on our regular monthly webinars, it’s important for the Partner XE community to connect in order to grow.
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