Recruiting Hispanic Agents Could Be

The Answer To Many Industry Woes

A typical insurance company executive is having difficulty sleeping. Tossing and turning with questions and problems: “I need more applications,” “I need new distribution,” “I need new markets,” “I need better persistency and more profitable products,” “I needI need….”

Id like to help this executive sleep. An answer to all these problems can be found in the largest untapped insurance market in U.S. history–the 40+ million Hispanic market population.

“Should the life insurance industry be recruiting to the Hispanic market?” This question is tantamount to asking: “Is the sky blue?” This is a no-brainer for any company or organization seeking to take advantage of the fastest growing consumer group in America.

And this recruiting effort could not come at a better time since recruiting in the life industry is a serious problem that has grown worse over the last 20 years. LIMRA estimates that the life field force has fallen from 250,000 active agents in 1981 to approximately 175,000 today–this at a time when the population has increased dramatically.

The results of this poor recruiting effort are equally dramatic. The average age of the life insurance agent today is 52. On average, agents produce only 45 policies a year. The fact that 11 million policies will be placed in force this year contrasts with the finding that 33 million people have asserted that they would like to purchase additional life coverage. There is a 3-1 imbalance and Im reminded of the many agents that continually moan that they have no one to see! Our delivery system is broken and it is time for repairs to begin in earnest.

Companies need to examine the Hispanic market and what it brings to the life insurance industry. First, the numbers are there. At about 40 million, the number of Hispanics in the U.S. is bigger than the entire population of Canada. Hispanics accounted for more than 50% of the entire nations growth during the last 3 years. By 2015, one in 6 Americans will be of Hispanic descent.

Second, the need is there. Hispanics have strong family and spiritual values. These values make insurance, especially life insurance, a necessity and not an additional expense. Third, the money is there. While Hispanics lag behind non-Hispanics in household income, they are increasing their earning power at a faster rate (6.1%) than non-Hispanics (2.7%) since 1998. Hispanic buying power was $582 billion in 2003 and it is estimated that this buying muscle will be $975 billion by 2007. The myth that Hispanics are poor and uneducated is exactly that–a myth.

Experienced agents for the Hispanic market should be part of the company strategy. First, there must be a clear definitive decision at the top level of management to focus on this specific market and devote the necessary resources to the recruitment effort. The agents being recruited to the market need to feel comfortable with the company or organization courting them and confident in the companys commitment.

Many of the agents responding to this recruitment will be Hispanic and it is important that these agents feel welcome and wanted and that they are not being used simply as a tool to get at the Hispanic consumer.

Part of the commitment is to hire staff members who can speak Spanish and understand the culture of the Hispanic agent. Second, appropriate bilingual marketing materials are essential for the agent to be successful. Translating existing brochures into Spanish does not accomplish this task. Most companies sadly are lacking in this respect.

Third, and most important of all, the agent must be given assistance on marketing concepts that the Hispanic family identifies with and finds appealing. This combination can lead agents to multiple sales per week and to referrals to other members of the Hispanic family. Paid applications of 200+ per year are realistic. Referrals (remember them?) are there for the agent who asks for them in this market.

Recruiting new people to become agents in our industry is an exciting element in the Hispanic market. The ability to make money through the establishment of your own business is very appealing to the Hispanic. Other industries are seeking them actively with the lure of high income through hard work. Why cant we?

Thirty years ago, the possibility of high income and helping people at the same time brought me to this industry. Helping people and getting paid for it was a powerful magnet for me. It is no different today to the Hispanic who wants to work with other Hispanics while providing products that bring financial security to the Hispanic family. “It worked for me,” I preach at recruiting seminars, and, “it will work for you.” The insurance industry needs the new blood that will work the Hispanic market and Hispanic people need to be offered the opportunity to work with those who will feel comfortable with them.

Joseph D. Moya is founder and president of Pegasus Insurance Group, Albuquerque, N.M. Moya is also the president of the International Association of Hispanic Insurance Professionals, Albuquerque.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.