Canadian Underwriter

On the hunt for talent? Try looking in these places

November 25, 2020   by Adam Malik

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If that restaurant server’s customer service stood out to you, maybe they’d be successful working in insurance. That’s one suggestion a brokerage leader gave at a recent convention as a way to find talent from other industries to fill needs in the industry.

It’s time to think outside the insurance box, said Johanna Allen, president of Allen Insurance Group. “You step back and you look at them think, ‘Hey, they might be good at this insurance gig. So why not reach out to them?’”

These finds could come from all sorts of different industries, be it in a bank or a retail environment. A positive interaction could be a sign that they could succeed in the insurance industry as their work experience is an indicator that they could be good brokers.

“Sales is the very core of insurance. That’s what we’re in — we’re in the sales business,” she said during last month’s Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario Convention that was held virtually. “So maybe we need to do that cold call and reach out to those people that are showing dynamic abilities in other industries and say, ‘Hey, you want to want to talk about this insurance gig? We think you might be good at it.’”

Fellow panellist Eric Osborne, president and CEO of Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management, agreed that people with customer service backgrounds are ideal for insurance because they have experience in roles where they’re problem solving.

“But also, I think, people who have specific experience in industry verticals, whether it be manufacturing, construction [or] technology” would be good fits, he said during the session entitled Recruiting Approaches to Increase Talent Supply. “They definitely understand our clients and, therefore, they can also be very good brokers as they transition over.”

Furthermore, branch out to other industries for expertise that can add value to being a broker, Allen said. Experience in finance and marketing would be attractive, for example, or a solid knowledge base about issues in the world today, Allen added. The key, she said, is to recognize when those skills are on display.

“I would add project management to that,” said panellist Anthea McFarland, senior vice president of personal insurance at Hub International. “Someone who’s diligent and can persevere [and be] resilient.”

The backdrop to this discussion was the fact that brokers should be looking for soft skills when looking to expand their base.

“If we were looking for licensed and trained brokers all the time, absolutely, it would be a huge challenge,” Allen said. “By hiring for attitude and sales ability and investing in the training and education of our team, we are able to secure the talent. We are able to teach insurance. We grow the talent, really, and create it and discover it where it’s never been thought to be discovered before. So tapping into people that are maybe working as a server in a restaurant or a bank.”


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