Years at company: 10 years
College: Illinois State University, Katie School of Insurance, ‘07
Organizations: Gamma Iota Sigma, NAIFA, Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois, Young Agents of Illinois
How did you determine that insurance was a viable career choice?
I was shown the benefits of working hard, client outings and what I could do for the client. Talk about a life-changing moment when you are handing your first life insurance or business insurance claim check at age 23 and changing the life of someone forever. When another agent shared how powerful insurance is with a personal story and not just through a book, it sent shivers down my spine. I knew right then that insurance was for me.
What advice do you have for Millennials struggling in a professional environment?
I see young agents not interacting with staff. We need our predefined spaces, but I wouldn’t mind lower walls where you could see people’s faces and have conversations face to face instead of an interoffice phone call. They also struggle with “this is how we’ve done things for 20 years” versus a new way that may save time, money and frustration. Have a meeting every Monday where you can offer new ideas, either anonymously or publicly.
What’s toughest about being young in a field where the average age is 55?
It’s very tough! When the average client knows my age, he wonders why he shouldn’t work with someone 30 years older than me. Just because that agent is older doesn’t mean he’s been in the industry longer or is willing to work harder. I also let clients know that I’ll be here for another 30 years with my name on the door versus someone retiring in 5 years.
How does technology fit into your work strategy?
I bought an iPad to cut down on paper and for mobile access to my markets. Just in proposal printing costs and by selling insurance remotely I paid for the iPad in 5 months and it should last quite a few years. I’ve sold insurance in places I’ve never even thought possible—including in a casino over the weekend. Then on Monday I quickly reviewed the client’s specifications, obtained a few signatures, a check and a handshake. Technology didn’t sell that policy but it definitely made it easier.
What advice do you have when working with family?
I work with my father and two uncles. Nobody has the chance to manage over someone else but do assist each other. Everyone needs defined space, power and responsibilities. The future of the industry is on collaborative selling and selling as a team rather than as an individual product.
Recruiting should start during sophomore and junior years in college. Talk to professors and set up a Q&A or make a presentation. Give students your card and later interview them and offer tuition reimbursement for taking courses that you require. This knocks off your benefits cost of training them. Students could work part time during the year and full time during the summers at minimum wage. If the students stick with you, they can keep their books of business.