Diversity Hiring Tips for the Insurance Distribution Community

Diversity Hiring Tips for the Insurance Distribution Community

Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel stated last year “It’s time to step up and do more. It’s not good enough to say we value diversity”.  That statement rings a little louder today, below is a list of actionable tips that our recruiters use when sourcing for candidates. These tips might be helpful in increasing your diversity ratios.

Understand the definition of Diversity Hiring. Diversity hiring is based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures are free of biases related to age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics that are unrelated to job performance.
1. Understand the definition of Diversity Hiring.

Diversity hiring is based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures are free of biases related to age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics that are unrelated to job performance.

Conduct a Diversity Hire audit
2. Conduct a Diversity Hire audit

with regard to current practices.

Develop a set a metrics to guide the search process.
3. Develop a set a metrics to guide the search process.

An example of one diversity matrix is the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” – which states that the NFL will have at least one minority candidate for each opening.

Adjust your sourcing techniques.
4. Adjust your sourcing techniques.

Understand that language in job descriptions and the accompanying pictures on an internet post can attract or deter prospects. Build your material to be inclusive.

Socials networks, postings and referrals
5. Socials networks, postings and referrals

Create a list of the Multicultural Organizations within the insurance industry and include those in postings. Examples would include the National African-American Insurance Association and the Latin Agents & Brokers Association.  An expanded list can be found on the BIG I diversity page.   

Use Personality Profiles in addition to interviews and reference checks
6. Use Personality Profiles in addition to interviews and reference checks.

Recent research has found that personality assessments help create a diversified workplace. Researchers have found that scores do not differ significantly by populations and thus have no adverse impact on minority groups.  (ideal)

If you would like to discuss your Insurance Diversity Hiring needs further, please contact Dan Rogan, President, The Rogan Group, Inc. – a Risk & Insurance Management Recruiting firm at 800-440-0082 or drogan@rogangroup.com 

Pick the Right Search Firm.

Pick the right search firm.

Featured in Business Insurance

You are an independent insurance agency owner faced with today’s grow or perish “environment”.  You understand that to succeed in this market, you must attract, recruit, and retain the top employee talent available. The end result is that you are working with an executive search firm to locate a producer, chief financial officer, or other top-level position, and you find yourself wondering, how do I manage the relationship?

     As the owner of an executive search firm that specializes in risk and insurance management recruiting, I am frequently asked this very question. My answer is simple. First of all, it is important to understand that the goals of both the executive search firm and the agency are the same. After you have come to this realization, you can work on becoming what search experts refer to as a “smart client”.

     Let’s first establish that your end goals are truly the same, and then I will cover seven simple steps that will put you on the road to becoming a smart client. To establish that both parties have identical goals, we need to look at the reality of the situation. Both parties want an executive who can be successful and who has upside potential, and both parties want the insurance brokerage client to be satisfied, as this will create future search assignments.

  1. Pick the right search firm.   Do your homework up front. Does the search firm have an expertise in your field? Look carefully; insurance company experience does not necessarily carry over to the brokerage community and vice versa. Does the firm have a history of recruiting in you geographic area? Does the firm have a large number of other client relationships that will prevent it from recruiting at the companies you deem desirable? Most firms have a hands-off policy for one to two years after last working with a client. Have the firm supply a list of satisfied clients and candidates. Ask for a company history, a staff review, and an ethics statement. Most importantly, understand who at the search firm will be conducting the work. Did you buy the services of a senior partner only to get a junior recruiter?
  2. Agree to and sign a fair proposal.   This will protect both sides. It will spell out both the search firm’s fee schedule and its guarantee period. If you are a first time client, a letter of engagement should accompany this document, outlining how the work will proceed and estimating timetables.Consider two important points here. First, move to negotiate and sign a fair proposal quickly, so that the search firm will view you as serious about the project and as a capable employer. Second, understand the level of the search; don’t look to pay the same fee or percentage for the recruitment of a Senior VP as you would for a lower-level staff position. It’s not the same process. The agreement also should indicate a high degree of responsiveness and candor on both sides. Finally, note that a win, win agreement will motivate the search firm to try to do business with you. You will be made aware of the local talent pool before other employers and prior to top talent making its next move.
  3. Establish goals, not job descriptions.  Meet with and talk to you search firm about the goals you would like this position to encompass. Use the search firm’s expertise in the local market to help you define and create specifications. This will ensure they understand critical issues. For example, say the insurance agency needs a senior Account Executive VP. A number of insurance brokers have their account executives act as the senior technical resource, while others view this as strictly a production position. If this difference is not established early, you will have wasted time, energy and money. The search firm also can help most brokers avoid a sometimes critical mistake at this point, one where the employer looks only for candidates in his or her own image. Most successful managers and owners have a strong egos and thus believe they can handle any position within their firms. For this reason, they sometimes tend to look for mirror images of themselves in senior search assignments. The search firm will draw on its experience to point out that different positions take different personalities and traits, thus helping to ensure a successful hire.
  4. Give full disclosure. Be honest about your company’s position. Did the incumbent retire, decide to leave the brokerage on his or her own, or was she or she released? Whatever the case, why did it happen? The insurance brokerage industry is a small world, and ultimately, the recruiter will be asked to address these issues by prospective candidates. It is best to be upfront; this will give the recruiter the information needed to make a full and logical presentation to qualified candidates. Top-level candidates will feel manipulated if they are not dealt with honestly, which will result in a lower success rate when presenting offers. Think of it this way; you, as the brokerage owner or manager, would not want a potential new producer to misrepresent his or her book of business, similarly, the producer will look for an honest overview of the structure and traits of your agency.
  5. Have the search firm get to know you. Invest the time to have the search understand your company culture. Does your agency view itself as a consulting firm or as a straight broker of business? Does your agency target small, mid-or large size accounts? Does your agency focus mainly on P&C or Group coverage? Have you developed niche programs that separate you from the competition? Can you compete on a national or international level? What makes you stand out against your competition?This process of getting to know your company can be accomplished only by having the search firm meet with various department heads, such as your sales manager, marketing manager, group manager, and most importantly, your human resource manager. I’ve seen a number of searches go bad due to poor working relationships at this level. The knowledge gained through this process will enable the search firm to create an attractive “sales plan” that can be presented to qualified candidates. Note that as search firms are moving quickly into specialization, you can also use these firms to learn about your marketplace. In other words, it’s smart to keep the lines of communication open.Create a partnership during the process. In short, take joint responsibility for the successful completion of the search. Move quickly to review each candidate, make time for a potential meetings, and put your best foot forward during the initial interviews. Remember that the search firm contacted these candidates; they did not answer a classified ad, and that they are most likely happy with their current situations. Thus, they need to be sold just like a new account. Give the search firm timely in-depth feedback on each candidate, and don’t let candidates dangle. When it is applicable, narrow the list of candidates and refocus on their core skills…this will take you to your most qualified prospect. 
  6. Close the deal. Remember, the recruiter can interest the candidate, bring them to your door, and even sell your company along the way. But in the end, it’s you, the employer that must close the deal. Search firms will try to align themselves with agencies that have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and the mettle to get it done.

Take the Test

Take the Test

Featured in Insurance Journal

The Problem
You’re an independent insurance agency owner and you want to grow. You can acquire another company and merge that into your present firm, or you can hire another producer. Now you must ask yourself … how does your agency look to potential recruits?

     The Solution
Get ready to attract those new producers by taking this quick recruitment test. And even if you’re not looking at attracting new producers, now … it’s still a good idea to take this test and measure how well your agency is doing in today’s competitive environment.

  1. Markets.
    Do you have the markets that match the candidate’s current expertise? And what about your list of carriers? Do you have the necessary appointments to keep any new producer busy? After all, the number one issue for a good, prospective producer considering a move would be a quality list of carriers.
     
  2. Service & Marketing.
    Are you support staff superior to the candidate’s previous employers? Do you have a centralized or producer oriented marketing system that matches the needs of you new prospective producer? After all, it’s easier for a producer coming out of a direct writer system to fit in with an independent that has centralized marketing, as they will immediately benefit from existing carrier relations.
     
  3. Lead Generation.
    Do you have a quality telemarketing and direct mail system in place? As the market becomes more competitive, producers look at every tool available to become more productive.
     
  4. Specialties / Niche Programs.
    Does your agency have any specialties or niche programs that make it stand out from the competition? If you do, how do you promote those programs?
     
  5. Automation.
    Automation is a must for any progressive agency and automation will also enhance your revenue to employee ratio. 
  6. Compensation.
    Is your compensation structure competitive? Whether its salary plus bonus or draw vs. commission … it’s based on a percentage of the producer’s book of business. Understand that candidates will research the average for their geographic area and then look for a strong rate of compensation. If you are recruiting a salary based producer to a commission structure, fully explain your system. You will be surprised how many salaried producers don’t completely understand the commission environment.
     
  7. Ownership.
    Do you offer an equity position or deferred comp plan for the producers in their book of business? The norm seems to be a vesting program of five years, with the producer gaining a phantom ownership stake in his or her own book of 10% per year, with a cap of 50% total ownership. This is generally paid out over 5 years on a retention basis.
     
  8. Contracts.
    Does your agency have the producer sign a non-compete, trade secrets clause or covenant not-to-complete? Understand they are all major issues to any candidate, so explain why you have them. Make sure they’re legal, valid, and fair. An agreement that’s comfortable to both parties will save legal fees down the road.
     
  9. Benefits.
    Do you offer any? Are they comparable to agencies of your size in your area? The two areas addressed most often at job interviews are dependent care and retirement programs.
     
  10. Office Environment. Is your office centrally located? Does it offer attractive surroundings? Remember, first impressions are hard to change.

In Closing, remember this. Potential candidates are also interviewing you. Put your best foot forward in the beginning and should you wish to pursue the deal, the close will most likely be much easier.

Using Deferred Compensation Plans to Attract Insurance Producers

Using Deferred Compensation Plans to Attract Insurance Producers

Are you thinking about hiring producers for your insurance agency? Are you worried about the return on investment and whether they will stay long enough to recoup that initial investment? A Deferred Compensation Plan tailored to the producer might help attract that top talent and also act as “golden handcuffs” to keep them long term and to eventually transition the book within the firm.

Over the last few years, our recruiting firm has worked with a number of firms that have created such plans. These plans allow the producer to create a phantom equity position and an income stream in the first few years of retirement. The plan also allows the agency to motivate the producer for continued production, lock in the non-compete and ultimately transition the book within the firm.

The standard plan that we see in the market looks as follows:

  • Insurance Agency Producer Deferred Comp Plan Example Structure
  • Vesting starts when the book is $500,000+ in revenue (the trigger).
  • The producer is fully vested after 5 years.
  • The vested position is equal to 50% of renewal book value.
  • The vested position is a deferred comp plan; there is no “ownership” in accounts.
  • Vested pay-out starts at Death, Disability, or Retirement.
  • Vested pay-out is 10% of the renewal book per year for 5 years (equals 50% of the book).
  • Pay-out is on a retention basis.
  • The non-compete must be in place for pay-out to occur.
  • Retiring Producer must assist in the transition of book to a new producer.
  • Agency hands-off book to another house producer or uses the book to recruit new talent.
  • Agency pays a reduced renewal commission to a producer who inherits book (usually 15-20%).
  • Total renewal pay-out (retiring producer and new producer) equals the standard renewal rate.

Again, this type of plan provides an incentive for the producer to build the largest book that he/she can while employed as it will increase the retirement pay-out they receive. It also acts as a recruiting tool for future producers (they can inherit business), creates a smooth transition for books of business (the retiring producer is motivated to see the business stay on the books due to retention basis of the program) and it locks in all non-compete contracts (acts as consideration). Note that it does all of these things, while not increasing the renewal commission cost to the firm. Seems like a win-win for everyone involved!

Finally, after the pay-out period is complete…the agency would recognize a 10% reduction in expenses associated with the book as the pay-out to the retired producer would stop, thus increasing the pre-tax profit of the firm.

We would suggest you speak with your financial consultant prior to enacting any such plan and we wish you success in your recruiting.