Attention, angry brokers: Time to simmer down

As a longtime proponent of advisers developing a strong and helpful online presence, I’ve noticed a recent trend starting to take shape. What started as friendly interactions with clients and peers, in some cases has moved to harboring excessive anger and using social media as a place to vent.

Benefit advisers are rightfully frustrated by the insurance and healthcare systems for less-than-transparent behaviors and pricing that has reached a point of being unsustainable for many businesses and employees. They are standing up to fight the machine.

But in the process, a lot of hateful words are being thrown around with absolutes and viciousness. And the fallout is apparent: Advisers are losing prospects, clients and carrier appointments.

Over the years, we have watched producers and agency owners repeatedly make bad business decisions regarding commission splits, hiring choices, and refusal to create processes and enforce accountability. But by far, the most reckless and irresponsible of all bad the decisions we’ve seen is the public anger, hostility and rock throwing at the carriers and all they represent.

business meeting financial adviser

I’m not saying that the system is working well or that you shouldn’t offer opinions and suggestions, but instead of attacking the traditional carriers, focus on positive solutions. Attacking others is just not a good practice, but attacking the process is fair game. If you craft your message well enough, your audience will connect the dots.

When you take a single-solution approach and insist that everyone switch to a value-based insurance designed program, you’re putting a lot at risk. Not only is your own book of business at risk with this type of negative and myopic rhetoric, it also brings your family, team members, and clients into an unstable position over which they have no control.

You are the one controlling it with your choices to bash the carriers — the very people with whom you have built your business over the years and who likely provide nearly all of your agency revenue.

Imagine looking for a new corporate attorney, getting a referral, looking her up online. Along with her stellar resume, you discover she is bashing the courts, the bar, her clients, and the local community. Or that she’s telling everyone there is only one answer to corporate problems, and you can see that if you don’t follow her advice, she’ll be online, berating your bad decisions. Or perhaps she’s spilling details of cases and bragging about her general awesomeness with rhetoric more befitting a teenager.

Is it someone who is going to offer sound business advice?

Review your conversations and messages (both online and off) and see how you may be perceived by your clients, prospects, and community. Are you offering helpful, challenging business-focused advice and recommendations? Are you making yourself a magnet to which other business owners and their employees want to be associated?

If you’re not, rethink what that might look like for you. If you need some inspiration on how to become more like that, check out the online accounts of Jill Castilla, CEO at Citizens Bank of Edmond in Oklahoma. She is a source of community support and positivity that not only draws her local community to her and the bank, but it draws the national banking community to her as well.

If you think your clients, prospects, partners, and community aren’t watching, you’re living in a narcissistic bubble. If you think the folks paying commissions and bonuses aren’t watching, you’re playing Russian roulette. They are watching; they are taking action; and you may not be the winner in that game.

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