WASHINGTON -- Recruiting - and retaining - the next generation of agents will take more effective use of technology, a continued focus on traditional recruiting methods, and careful thought about business culture.
GAMA International officers talked about the coming generational shift here at GAMA's Leadership and Management Program (LAMP).
GAMA, Falls Church, Va., is a professional development group for field leaders in the insurance and financial services industries. The youngest candidates the field leaders are trying to attract are no longer members of the baby boomer generation or Generation X, but of the "Millennial generation" - the generation of workers born from 1980 to 2000.
The Millennials have a good attitude, according to one veteran general agent at LAMP who requested anonymity.
"Back in 1987, everyone thought that they were geniuses," the general agent said. Now, he said, the young people "have been humbled."
Field organizations should be hiring Millennials, because "we are coming up with new ways to look at things, and we need the Millennials involved," the general agent said.
But "the financial services industry and the insurance industry in particular are in the midst of a huge public relations crisis at this point," the general agent said, adding that the insurance industry must tell potential agents at universities across the country about the good agents can do for society.
"This is a great time to enter the industry, and that has to be explained during the recruitment process," the general agent said.
Kenneth Gallacher, GAMA's 2010-2011 president-election, said another challenge is hanging on to the good young agents that a field organization has recruited.
Retaining young agents has always been a challenge, Gallacher said.
"At my age, I am not planning on switching careers," Gallacher said. "It would not be prudent. But, for a 25- or 32-year-old, making a career move could be a very real possibility."
Even in this uneven economy, organizations that want to keep talented, hard-working Millennial
workers must recognize and accommodate younger workers' needs, Gallacher said.
"I realized that I had to shuffle some scheduling around to make life easier on a young mother that I had working for me," Gallacher said. "We were holding meetings at 8 a.m., and she would have to take her children to school, so, moving our meetings back to 9 a.m. made them all the more productive and helped retain a valuable worker."
In other GAMA LAMP news:
- Potential 2012 presidential contender Newt Gingrich appeared at a general session, but he did not talk about the new health care laws or other insurance or financial services issues.
- Kenneth Grace talked about the importance of finding a balance between growing and leading. He said a successful field leader must focus more on why things work than on how they work.
"How you accomplish your business has to do with how you run your business," Grace said. "Why you accomplish your business has to do with how you grow your business."
Field leaders must focus their marketing strategies on the right demographics, rather than spreading themselves too thin by chasing any client anywhere, Grace added.
"No sense of focus equals no intentionality," Grace said.
- GAMA Lamp Quote of the Day: "Whole life insurance is the A&D ointment for a chaffed society." - Kenneth Grace