SPLICE Software CEO Tara Kelly is confident that despite the insurance industry’s poor reputation with young people, the business has a lot to offer millennials, who express interest in careers involving community involvement, big data and the chance to develop cutting-edge technology.
When asked to name a few companies that are leveraging these concepts as successful recruiting tools, she had no trouble doing so.
“AAA is really doing well at developing a keen community focus, which is appealing to millennials,” Kelly, who spearheads SPLICE’s efforts to develop better customer experience solutions for clients, told Insurance Business America.
“Liberty Mutual is also toying with better technology internally, as is Farmers and of course GEICO. GEICO really broke all the rules when it comes to using technology to improve the insurance company’s relationship with its customer.”
Unfortunately, all of those companies have one thing in common – whether as a captive carrier or a direct writer, they do not involve independent insurance agents and therefore don’t pass on those values and investments to agency principals and producers.
The independent channel is already struggling to hire the young people it needs in order to meet projected customer demand. A 2015 report from Reagan Consulting found that agencies are posting a dismal 56% success rate in hiring new employees, and between 55% and 60% are “under-hiring” based on their needs.
These are concerning figures, particularly given the onslaught of expected retirements in the next 20 years (the average insurance agent is 59) and the rising threat of alternative, tech-based solutions seeking to take over broker business.
Yet Kelly believes even the smallest insurance agencies have the ability to attract ambitious young people looking to work with technology – even if they don’t have the expansive budgets of a GEICO or a Farmers.
“We have so much data just waiting to be used, and software vendors are filling the gap by creating an affordable mix of products to do that,” she said. “It’s going to create a paradigm shift where agents and brokers are earning the right to be part of a customer’s life by exploring that data to mitigate risk and help customers. Agencies that put those tools in the hands of their producers are going to be the ones that will crush it in terms of hiring this really intelligent and savvy workforce.”
Kelly specifically recommended mobile- and app-based communication services, big data tools and even new ways of writing products (think Verifly’s “per flight” drone policies versus the traditional drone insurance model) as ways of adding value to the producer role and attracting millennials to the business.
By providing these tools and setting young people free to find a “different way of selling,” she says agencies will redefine the role of insurance and attract more customers – particularly young people, who are becoming a growing portion of the general workforce.
“It’s a very beautiful cycle, hiring millennials who look like the millennials they’re serving,” Kelly said. “She just takes off and she goes.”
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