Agents Are Here To Stay
This is a more personal piece than usual, and it’s inspired by some recent conversations that I’ve had with some investors. This is always an interesting exercise for me because I get to see insurance from the outside, gaining valuable perspectives about how others view our industry. Sometimes I get feedback like “agents are not here for long” or “the direct channel will replace the industry of agents and brokers.” I always take the time to explain that that is not the case; in fact, not only are agents and brokers here to stay, but they can also be more successful than ever using the right technology.
The number of businesses in the insurance brokers and agencies industry in the U.S. has grown 0.5% per year on average over the five years between 2016 – 2021. This growth is a clear indicator that agents continue to hold value in our industry. With the number of professionals in the field expanding rather than shrinking, it seems the rumors of their demise have been greatly over-exaggerated!
Agents have a unique advantage in that they sit at the center of the most important data sources: the carriers’ data, the clients’ data and policy data. However, many of them don’t have the AI capabilities to turn that data into insight and action. Once I show investors how to unlock data points and turn them into sales, they start to see that agents’ potential is greater than ever.
Agents are one of the industry’s most valuable assets and they can become better than ever with the right technology and tools. At the same time, here are some thoughts about where agencies and their agents can place attention to help ensure this success.
- Build strong relationships with your clients. Agents always want to present themselves as trustworthy, fact-based risk advisors. They can show their worth by providing meaningful client and industry insights and easy-to-use reports that add value to the clients and reinforce the importance of the relationship. Similarly, they should demonstrate a desire to engage by interacting with clients through whatever channels the clients prefer: text, chat, email, voice, or the web.
- Foster a happy, effective employee culture. Let’s be honest: most AMS interfaces are far from intuitive or user-friendly. Compare insurance technology with the bells and whistles your new hires may see in other industries and you can see why this might be a hard sell. To attract and retain great employees, agencies should look to provide them with software that is visually appealing, easy to learn, and simple to use. Also give them access to tools that they can utilize on the go. Close the gap by giving them the tools and technology to help them to excel in their role, and you’ll have a loyal team as a result.
- Drive organic sales through increased producer productivity. Agents are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line. Help them succeed by giving them access to insights that will enable them to find new growth opportunities. In addition, give them insights into their performance immediately, which will help to drive efficiency for your entire organization.
Once I talk with investors about all of this, they do get it; they see the potential and get excited about the opportunity to further support agents through technology. That’s important because we need venture capital to build this ecosystem. We have a market of agents and brokers and we have more and more startups looking to provide solutions for the industry. Investment is the piece that closes the loop, making it possible for startups to develop technology that goes even deeper to meet the needs of the market. The fact that investors see insurance as a valid market and a good place to invest means that we can keep offering more to agents and helping them to do an even better job for their clients. Between agents’ efforts, startup innovation and venture capital support, we can keep agents as one of the industry’s most valuable assets and help them to become better than ever.
Liri Halperin is a serial entrepreneur and the founder & CEO of LeO, a leading conversational AI platform designed specifically for the insurance industry. LeO supports insurance agents and enterprises with 24/7 AI-powered chatbots that handle customer service and sales needs, helping to cut costs and increase ROI. Before LeO, Liri co-founded two other successful start-ups. She’s also the co-founder of Parliament51, a social impact venture that aims to obtain equal opportunities for women in the workplace, and was proud to be invited to speak on this topic at the UN last winter.
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