Advisers need better recruiting strategies. Here’s why

NASHVILLE – While advisers are skilled at helping employers find benefits that will help them attract and retain workers – brokerages themselves could use some help with recruiting and retention, experts say.

A survey from the Life Insurance and Market Research Association estimates that the insurance industry has an 11% two-year retention rate. This statistic surprised Tim Martin, founder of voluntary benefits firm Success is Voluntary. In fact, he said brokers may need to take a hard look at how they approach recruiting.

First, it may be valuable to take the time to help newer brokers look beyond past failures, he said. Being a new broker is tough and mistakes can be discouraging for an adviser who may not immediately be hitting their goals.

“When we have people that don’t make it, it’s hard to look somebody in the eye and say, this is where you need to be,” he said during the Workplace Benefits Renaissance conference hosted by Employee Benefit Adviser. “We take that very, very personally.”

Advisers may also need to get more creative with who they’re recruiting. Jack Kwicien, managing partner at Daymark Advisors, said brokers may be looking at the wrong individuals. While a clean cut, experienced broker with a lot of ideas may be attractive on paper, Kwicien warns they might not deliver.

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“The best anyone is going to be is during the interview,” Kwicien said during the conference. “Someone looking to start something new is hungry. Anyone who’s worked in education three to four years – and is tired of being underpaid – can be a great recruit. They’re also someone who likely has a good reputation in the community and connections.”

Martin echoed similar sentiments; he once hired a car wash detailer as a broker for his firm after the individual sold him an expensive package. The candidate had never sold benefit packages before, but it was obvious they possessed the soft skills for a good salesman, Martin said.

“We had to clean him up a bit – he needed a shave and new clothes – but nobody has ever sold me a full detail before,” he said. “He’s been a successful recruit.”

Martin also said some brokerages may feel they don’t have a system in place to help employees be successful and should invest in more sales training. Indeed, fully 84% of brokers believe their companies teach them the skills to succeed at their jobs, yet just 43% say on-the-job training is offered in their office, according to a survey of 750 brokers from MetLife.

Brokerages could also stand to improve their interview processes, Martin said. Frontline managers often aren’t good at interviewing and may not have a lot of experience doing so.

“They haven’t been trained on how to interview effectively and they don’t know how to pick the right candidate,” Martin said.

Kwicien believes the best way to find good candidates is to require brokers to find clients during the hiring process. It can be a great way to determine who is willing to go the extra mile, he said.

“People can tell you what they’ll do once they get the job, but you won’t know if they can deliver until you see it yourself,” Kwicien said.

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