Matt Frierson, CIC
Partner, Pierson & Fendley Insurance Agency
Years at company: 9 years
College: Texas A&M University, '97; MBA: Sam Houston State University, '98
Organizations & Awards: IIAT Young Agent of the Year 2011, Independent Agents of Paris
How do you balance your personal life with work?
It's a challenge for sure. I work with my father-in-law and brother-in-law, so sometimes it is difficult to see one another outside the office and not have business creep into the conversation. But my wife does a great job of making sure I don't lose sight of identifying myself too closely with work instead of being a good father and husband.
What do you see young agents struggle with in their first years in this industry?
1. Making that initial call to a prospect. It can be overwhelming, but the worst they can say is no. At its best, you get to help someone protect the very things crucial to their livelihood.
2. Realize that insurance is not a quick and easy thing. It is about trust, responsibility and dedication. Commissions can come and go very quickly, but a good reputation is something that doesn't come easily.
Do your top carriers recruit young workers?
Yes, we have multiple carriers actively pursuing younger workers in their companies. The most successful initiative I have seen is one of our regional carriers who started an internship program about 4 years ago and today retains 100 percent of that initial "class."
How can employers hold on to young talent?
I switched jobs three times in my first 3 years after graduate school, and the reason was simple (none were related to insurance). I was tossed into a desk where I was asked to make calls and that was it. No talk of how the company could benefit me or where my spot was in the future. Simply, commission. That is great financially, but I think younger workers are actually worried about where they will be 20 years from now and if the answer is "still sitting at the same desk," then many won't accept it. Employers need to share their visions and let everyone know what the possibilities are.
What are your industry goals?
As a family agency, we want to be set up for the success of the next generation. That may sound odd to list as a goal, but I want to make sure that Pierson and Fendley is successful now and stronger 20 years from now. I also plan to continue with my volunteer efforts with CAA, as well as the Independent Agents of Texas. I truly enjoy the interaction and involvement with the other agency CAA members and want to support their continued growth. The camaraderie and dedication to making the industry better has been a great experience.
Do you have a mentor in this industry?
I've been very fortunate to be around many people within the industry who have been exceptionally willing to listen and help guide me through different scenarios. First, of course, is our managing partner, Curtis Fendley. He's really provided great insight as to what the industry is about. And I would certainly include the principal members of the Combined Agents of America (CAA), who have been immensely helpful and influential in my development as well. They have given me advice and words of encouragement without fail even when I wasn't sure they even knew who I was.