Canadian Underwriter

The best way for brokers to add talent

December 1, 2020   by Adam Malik

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Internal referrals made by successful employees are the top way brokerages are finding quality talent to add to their ranks, attendees of a recent webinar panel heard.

When asked to discuss what strategies worked best to find talent, the three panellists all agreed on internal referrals.

“The first one would be internal new hire referral program, and that one we find has worked,” Anthea McFarland, senior vice president of personal insurance at Hub International. “So if you look at your talent, and you look at referrals coming from that talent, talent’s going to refer talent.”

Her brokerage has a career website, which she recommended that any organization could do. They post regular updates in terms of new job posting and other opportunities. This page can be viewed by everyone in the company so that they know about the opportunities and what kind of candidate for which the company is looking.

“Maybe you’ll have internal applicants that are looking to sit in that chair, or maybe you’ll have folks that know of somebody interested in it,” McFarland said.

Fellow panellists Johanna Allen, president of Allen Insurance Group, and Eric Osborne, president and CEO of Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management, agreed on the success of referrals.

When asked about online job boards that supplied the best candidates, all agreed that LinkedIn was their top choice. However, nothing was as successful as internal referrals, they said.

“Online would have to be LinkedIn,” Osborne said. “But our most success is through referrals. It’s not online; it’s through referrals from other team members. I would say [that] is our most successful strategy.”

Furthermore, both Allen and Osborne noted successful partnerships with schools like Humber College. Osborne noted how he was able to hire a student out of the insurance program who was originally from Central America. That employee became key in helping open a new account in Nicaragua thanks to his Spanish-speaking background.

“That’s a great success story, and I think just shows the value of the program,” Osborne said. “I think it’s very important for all of us that we, as brokerages, build a pipeline of talent that we can bring into our organization. And partnering with a college is one way that you can successfully do that.”

Osborne also talked about an internal training program at his brokerage as a way to build future brokers by developing their talent, investing in their employees, and preparing the brokerage for the future. The program focuses on three areas:

  • Sales, which teaches how to build a pipeline of leads, prospect, and close a sale
  • Foundational, which teaches technical skills and knowledge
  • Practical mentorship, in which leaders spend one-on-one time with a mentee to put it all together.

“I think the program is great,” Osborne said. “I’d like to see us roll it out more broadly across many different divisions in our organization. But we take tremendous pride in seeing people successfully go through the program and build their careers. So absolutely. It’s critical that we all develop internal training programs to develop our team members.”


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