The opening general session at NAILBA 34, which began November 18 and ends November 20 in Orlando, Fla., got off to an energetic start. NAILBA 2015 chairman David Long spoke about the association’s partnerships, community outreach, the challenges the insurance industry is facing and more.
Long stressed that the insurance industry faces life-changing challenges such as:
- the importance of recruiting new talent to the industry;
- regulatory changes, including how the fiduciary rule that is being cooked up by the Department of Labor (DOL) will raise the barrier to entry;
- how to put insurance into more Americans’ hands;
- the importance of repopulating salesforces.
Before leaving, Long stressed once more the need to create the next generation of insurance professionals that will drive the future of the industry.
Afterward, a panel of four independent brokerage agents took the stage. Among them: Christi Daughenbaugh from Borden Hamman Insurance Marketing; Larry Herman from Herman Agency, Inc.; Ryan Pinney, LifeHealthPro.com contributor and owner of Pinney Insurance Center; and James Wong from Partners Advantage.
How an “aha” moment turned a business around
Each agent had their turn to talk about the successful programs and initiatives that they have been implementing in their practices. For example, Wong recounted an instance of how he had a moment of clarity back in 2010 and how that has shaped the current way of doing business for his agency.
“I was reading a trade publication and a staggering number shot off the page. The headline read ‘50 percent of the distribution will be out of business in 10 years.’ This was in 2010 and we’re half way through that. That made me concerned,” he explained. Wong then detailed how he kept thinking about how they could change their business in order to service. “We decided to take a different approach. We departed from the inside-out view of our business and value prop(osition) and decided to reverse that and go back and say, from the outside-in, what do we really want to be? That’s how we arrived at the train first philosophy,” Wong said.
To achieve this, Wong provided access points to top-shelf training, and invested money into podcasts, webinars, videos and, above all, study group sessions. “Knowing where you want to end up really helps,” he says, in regards to succession planning, too.
Moving from transactional to relational
On the other hand, Larry Herman explained that his own agency experience has been quite different. “I’ve been in the independent brokerage side of the business for 20 years,” he said, going on to explain that, being a practicing attorney, he thought he had the skills necessary to stand out from other brokers. What he found was that his practice was mostly based on transactions, rather than building relationships with clients.
“We found that high-end investment advisors and group benefit firms have a common denominator, which is that they have trusting, established, client relationships. We’re not doing point of prospecting anymore. We’re doing point of sales. And even more than that, I kind of consider that as a point of implementation, or what happens after the client says ‘yes,’” Herman explained.