Owners of insurance agencies — long a community mainstay — need to start pondering their futures now or they may become irrelevant, said an industry group chairman Friday.

“Think about how fast things have changed in the last 14 years, and how" we continue to resist it, said Mike Donohoe, chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America at the Big “I”’s Legislative Conference and Convention in Washington.

Speaking in front of nearly 1,000 insurance agents, Donohoe said that he recently invited his teenage son to a presentation he gives where he shares that Big “I” members are the “mainstay of our communities” by coaching local teams, running the Y, “generally making things happen.”

After that speech, he asked his son for his thoughts — expecting a little fresh air. Instead, he got an earful, he said. His son told him that “'all the attributes that you mention, things that made you successful aren’t enough anymore. My generation wants more, we expect more, we want it our way and want it now. … Technology is changing too quickly and you are way too far behind.’”

And Donohoe, owner and agent of the James R. Weir Insurance Agency in Mankato, Minn., agrees that technology is changing the way agents conduct business. “In 1998, Google was born,” he said. “Six years later Facebook, [and then] Twitter, LinkedIn, and more and more. … Talk about change, talk about a revolution in how we are going to do business.”

As a result, Donohoe said, “baby boomers are going through a scary time” and The Big “I” needs to adjust as well. “It’s time for us to start pondering the future,” he said. “What will the association need? Technology is changing everything.”

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