Addressing the Talent Gap

web_0006_branch web_0007_reddBy 2018, a quarter of the current professionals in the insurance and financial services industry will retire, including half of the senior leaders at some companies. More than 400,000 insurance industry positions will need to be filled by 2020.

Where will these new professionals come from? This is the question explored by Margaret Redd, Ken Branch, and Quincy Branch of the National African American Insurance Association and the attendees of their workshop, “The Impending Talent Gap,” at NAIFA’s Performance + Purpose conference.

Insurance industry recruiters face a challenge because the prevailing image of what an insurance advisor looks like – an older, white male – does not necessarily match the demographics of those now entering the workforce. Complicating the recruiters’ task is the fact that many millennials do not view insurance as a viable career. They underappreciate and misunderstand what insurance and financial advisors do. They also shy away from the industry as a career choice because they hear that the first few years can be very challenging.

To overcome the talent gap, it is vital to change the way the public in general, which includes those who will become the next generation of advisors, views insurance professionals.

“How many times has someone asked you what you do for a living,” Redd asked the workshop attendees, “and you replied, simply, ‘I’m in insurance’?” Instead, she suggests saying, “I help small businesses succeed,” or “I help people going through tough times in their lives and avoid financial hardship.”

Changing the way insurance professionals are viewed requires telling stories that resonate and explain why the industry matters and how it impacts communities as well as the lives of those we are asking to choose to be financial professionals.

Established advisors can encourage a new generation of professionals by providing them with mentoring and presenting a picture what successful advisors looks like, even when that picture may not match the traditional image of an insurance agent.