Canadian Underwriter

How Canadian P&C brokers feel about their hours and pay

September 16, 2022   by David Gambrill

Giving, Currency, Time, Customer, Wages, Exchanging

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A vast majority of Canadian P&C insurance brokers don’t appear to be “quiet quitting,” a recent Canadian Underwriter online poll suggests.

When brokers were asked if they adjust their weekly work hours so they align better with the compensation they receive, 82% of the 347 Canadian P&C insurance brokers polled replied “No.”

“A salaried position is what it is, and workloads are what they are,” one broker commented in the survey. “There are busy times when more hours are needed, and there are slower times when there is more breathing room in the day. It usually balances itself out.”

Exactly half reported they worked a standard, 40-hour work week. Of the thirty-eight per cent of brokers who indicated they worked more than 40 hours a week, 21% said they worked a 45-hour week, 10% said they worked 50 hours per week, while the remaining 7% worked more than 55 hours a week.

But workloads are increasing, several brokers warned in the survey.

“I am satisfied with compensation, but due to a lack of qualified people to hire, I get bogged down in processing, other lines, etc., so I am unable to find the time to spend on getting new clients,” one commented.

Fifty-two per cent of brokers said they get paid by salary only. Thirty per cent received a hybrid compensation package, including both salary and commission. While 14% reported getting a commission-only pay structure.

One broker referred to an increased emphasis on working for commissions as a “race to the bottom.”

Another broker felt “commission is only good if you have a large book of business and I have been working on increasing my book, but it takes time. I feel I need to get a wage increase on the renewal business I have done, as it takes a lot of service.”

Overall, 48% of Canadian P&C brokers said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their pay, 23% were neutral, and 29% were either dissatisfied (24%) or very dissatisfied (5%) with their compensation.

Of those who were dissatisfied, three themes emerged in the survey’s open-ended answers.

First, brokers felt insurers were downloading more work on brokers, but insurers’ commissions were not increasing to match the workload. The extra work flowed from insurers running business through their own proprietary online portals, which increases the broker workload when helping clients navigate the insurance application process.

“I would love an article with more research into broker commissions from insurers themselves,” one broker commented. “I don’t believe my insufficient salary is completely the fault of my employer. The increase in broker workload due to changes in processing caused by all these [insurer] online platforms needs to be fairly compensated.”

Second, there is still a perceived gap between what male brokers and female brokers get paid.

“For women especially, it is extremely difficult [to get] adequate raises and promotions,” one broker wrote. “Women in our industry are struggling. We need more women leaders; we need gender parity.

“We can’t separate out lack of flexibility and autonomy from compensation, as a lack of flexibility affects women — who take on the bulk of household management and childcare — [and they] find their ability to grow in their careers is stymied by a system set up for men by men.”

Finally, some viewed that salary structures were “uneven” between the various roles at the brokerage.

One broker producer, for example, expressed guilt being compensated for new business that the support staff was being paid less to service. “At times, in my role as producer, it’s a little bit embarrassing or uncomfortable to make a sale,” the broker wrote. “I am compensated for it, but my team just gets more work. It doesn’t seem fair. I don’t think service level staff are compensated fairly.”

Another feared a movement towards the use of cost-effective CSRs (customer service representatives) would ultimately usurp the role of producers.

“Working as a producer is not as rewarding as it once was,” one broker commented. “It seems that M&A companies that purchase brokerages have less appreciation for producers and look to want to hire cost-effective CSRs instead.”


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