Canadian Underwriter

How some brokerages and MGAs attract talent

December 13, 2018   by Jason Contant

Canadian Underwriter National Broker Survey: Broker success strategies revealed

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What’s the best way of attracting qualified talent to your brokerage?

Some brokerages and managing general agencies (MGAs) have cited looking outside the insurance industry or recruiting from local community colleges.

McConville Omni Insurance Brokers, a personal and commercial lines brokerage in London, Ont., has found success through things like job fairs at local colleges. “That’s actually where we find pretty good talent,” said Ed Meiering, McConville Omni’s CEO. He was discussing the brokerage’s recent merger and rebranding efforts.

“Sometimes you will get lucky and you will find somebody that is a 20-year veteran that is moving cities… but most people start, stay and settle,” Meiering said in an interview Tuesday. “So, you really have to build new brokers. We look for core skills, then teach them technical.”

That approach seems to resonate with the industry. Last month, David Cook, president of ENCON, said the MGA has had success looking for people with specific skills, rather than insurance experience.

“We often say we have experienced people within our shop that we can teach insurance, but you need the people skills, the technology skills, and the like,” Cook said Nov. 27 at’s MGA Technology Symposium in Toronto. “We’ve also, particularly on the claims side, had good success in hiring people with experience in the type of businesses we are insuring: lawyers, engineers and engineering technologists.”

Like Meiering, MGA Angus-Miller Insurance Ltd. has recruited from community colleges. In the last three years, the Saint John, N.B.-based MGA has hired “five young, bright, energetic and, I think, very qualified people,” chief operating officer David Harris said during the symposium. “They’ve been willing to learn and we’ve been able to embed them into our culture.”

Canadian Underwriter’s National Broker Survey found that 66% of employers cited “finding qualified workers” as a strong challenge (8-10 out of 10) to their businesses.

But sometimes you do find somebody with both relevant work and insurance experience. For example, at McConville Omni, the human resources and operations manager was brought on with both insurance experience and a varied HR background.

For Meiering, who came to the brokerage last year, he promotes people he really trusts. “When the trust quotient gets higher, everything runs better,” Meiering said. “I think that’s truly what changed the culture.”

Meiering offers advice he has heard from brokers he has spoken with. “If you hire ahead of your new demand that you want to do if you’re investing in your brokerage, yes, it costs more, but then you can be picky about who you want to bring in,” he said. “You have time to train them, you have time to transition. If you wait and you do it afterwards, then you get desperate because your people are burning out.

“This year, because we are seeing some growth, the big focus is going to be on people and making sure the people are there to continue the culture, so we don’t get bogged down and desperate.”

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