Kris Tawney, president of Tawney Insurance Consulting LLC, in Morgantown, W.Va., is the one of Employee Benefit Adviser’s 2014 Rising Stars in Advising. He shared three tips for other young advisers in the field. “A lot of companies are just holding on,” says the 29-year-old, who founded his own business in September. Stay tuned to EBA for more on Tawney and our other nine Rising Stars.

  1. “Don’t hold your ideas back,” Tawney says. “If you have an idea of a new way to do something, don’t be discouraged if someone else doesn’t agree. I always try to keep in mind that if someone’s already made it and been doing it 20 years, that person is different than just starting out. A lot of companies right now are just holding on. Don’t be afraid of it, voice new ideas.”
  2. “Pay more attention to business, not just selling insurance,” he says. “I find myself talking about business and the economy all the time and once you have that business acumen, the people you’re selling to respect you more. You’re not just pitching prices.”
  3. People learn differently. “It’s been a challenge for me that there are different ways of generational learning,” he says. “It took me time to learn that people learn and operate differently. You have a diverse workforce and you have to bridge gaps between different generations. You can’t just do well for the under 30s or 40s, you have to cater to everyone — all clients.”
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. “I know that’s cliché, but I mean [ask questions] about the business you work for,” he says. “I’m always asking, ‘What are we going to do about this?’ I don’t think you should be afraid to ask [the head of your agency], ‘What’s your cessation plan? What if there’s no money in health insurance anymore?’ If you’re a young person, you probably want to find out what you want to do before it’s too late. A lot of agencies in the next three to four years are going to know if they’ve lost a lot of business. If someone’s apprehensive about business plans, you may start to think about something else.”

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