I don’t know about you, but I know about a grand total of 5 people (outside of those in family owned agencies) who had planned for a career in insurance. It seems that most of us sort of wander into the business by accident. However, at the same time, it’s amazing about how many stay once here.

Stigma

Yeah, there is the stigma of being an “insurance salesman”, but when you look past the stereotype to the reality of what we do, it really is an amazing way to make a living. It’s an industry where you can maintain an incredible work/life balance, you are in position to truly make an impact on the business of your clients, and it’s an industry whose financial rewards are unbelievable rich.

Unfortunately, I think in the past few years the industry shine has lost a bit of its luster. Medical premiums keep going up, we’ve been in a recession that has been harsh on both us and our clients, and healthcare reform brings a whole host of unknowns.

Attracting young talent

I have heard many times that our industry is threatened by its inability to attract young talent. If we allow ourselves to be defined and limited by our industry stereotype that may be a valid concern. However, I have seen a very clear recent example of that not having to be the case.

Wendy and I were recently taking a member agency through strategic planning. The principal of the agency invited her 23 year old, soon to be graduating from college, daughter into the planning session. Danielle (the daughter) is an energetic, very entrepreneurial-minded individual. She has already started multiple businesses and is clearly destined to do amazing things in the world of business. I think she initially asked to participate in the session only because of her sincere interest in business, not because she had any intent of it becoming her career path.

However, as the strategic plan took shape and the vision of the agency was formed, she realized that what they were planning for wasn’t the stereotypical “insurance agency”, it was clearly a vision of an organization positioning itself to help its clients find higher levels of success in very innovative ways. She clearly saw that the “insurance agency” stigma didn’t have to be what defined the agency and its relationship with its clients. Now, I don’t know with any certainty that she will pursue a future at the agency, but she clearly saw how exciting and rewarding a career option it can be.

If our industry can still be that exciting to the Danielles of the world, I know it will continue to be the unbelievable opportunity we have all come to know, even those of us who maybe wandered in by accident. I think that what Danielle experienced in a fairly intense couple of days is what most of us learn much more gradually over the formative years of our careers. Fortunately, the stereotype doesn’t have to define who we are or what we do. When you think about the unique relationship we have with our clients, we are in an almost unparalleled position in terms of the breadth of scope of opportunities we have to make a positive impact on their business.

In my humble opinion, this remains an unbelievable industry in which to make a living. I’m not sure as many young people will wander into careers with your agency as they have in the past, but if you help them see that the stereotype “need not apply”, we may, in fact, find a whole new generation who join our ranks intentionally.

What about you? Do you still believe? If you were starting over, would you make the same choice?

 

Photo by rduta.