AXA president and CEO Christopher M. Condron says his company emphasizes compensation to help it recruit agents likely to be productive.

“I think compensation drives all behavior,” he declared at the LIMRA conference last week.

In an interview following his talk, Condron said AXA aggressively focuses recruiting and hiring efforts on experienced agents, offering stock options as a key ingredient of its efforts.

The options offer industrious agents a way to build wealth as the value of the stock they acquire increases each year, he explained.

The number of options received is based on the commissions earned.

“So an agent who makes $100,000 in commissions one year earns $5,000 in options,” Condron explained. “If he makes $1 million, he’d get $140,000 in options.”

Although AXA also recruits inexperienced candidates, it starts them out as assistants to veteran agents, who act as their mentors for a year or so.

“We look for the tenacity to be successful in a business that’s hard to get started in,” he said. “And we’re being picky. We turn down 9 out of 10 sales applicants.”

But being picky also helps the company enjoy an above-average retention rate for producers, he added.