Posted on 23 Oct 07
In her opening address to the 22nd Annual Technology, Education & Networking Conference (TENCon) here ASCnet CEO Linn Wheeling, CAE, said the convergence of two opportunities—young people and technology—can strengthen the independent agency system.
Nearly 2,000 agents, brokers, carrier executives, technology company representatives and industry leaders attended the 2007 TENCon at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Wheeling spoke to the gathering during the opening session.
Focusing on technology first, Wheeling said that hundreds of agencies and more than 80 carriers are using Real Time interface to reduce transaction times for customers and to enhance the productivity of their employees. These agencies, she said, are experiencing incredible results.
“The industry has the technology. ASCnet has the success stories,” said Wheeling. “But we know we can do more. We need more agencies and brokerages to use Real Time, more companies to support it, more industry leaders to lead the charge. We need more of you to make Real Time a reality.”
She said customer service expectations are driving the industry’s implementation of Real Time. “Our customers don’t have different expectations for their insurance provider than they do for many of their every day services. The leap has been made. They want instant access—and ease of doing business—such as on-line banking or downloading music,” explained Wheeling. “They want it, and they want it now. With Real Time, you can give them quality products and services in a fraction of the time.”
Real Time, says Wheeling, also can help the agency system with its second opportunity: attracting talented, young people who want to work in a business that is technologically advanced.
“We’re all aware that there is a serious shortage of new blood in the industry. We’ve heard about it, we’ve read about it, and we’ve all noticed that more people at this meeting qualify for AARP than for a young agents group. And certainly, we’ve noticed the need back home, at your agencies and companies,” she said.
Noting that 93 percent of teenagers are computer users, Wheeling said that the future of technology is just getting started. This trend indicates that there has never been a better time to attract people to the insurance industry.
“Today there are hundreds—maybe thousands—of different jobs related to the insurance business open to attract these unique, qualified individuals. There are the traditional positions we think of, like producers, CSRs, underwriters and claims managers,” she said. “But there are many other careers that are equally important—in technology, education, communications, finance and yes, even lobbying. Most of these jobs pay well, they offer a great quality of life, and a life balance that is so important to this generation.”
Wheeling said that the industry might not be attracting these young people to the industry “because we don’t brag enough.
“Really! Ask any agent what he or she does for a living, and he or she will most likely answer in short, ‘I’m in insurance,’ ” explained Wheeling. “I’d like to see us expand the dialogue, generate some excitement and vitality into the mix.
“When asked, we should talk about the interesting people we meet, the flexibility of our schedules, quality of our lives, the ability to help people protect their families, their homes and their businesses. And most of all, about the money we can make,” she said.
“If we brag a little bit more, we are bound to get a little bit more interest in our industry from the Millennial Generation. And if we have more Millennial employees, then we’ll attract more Millennial customers,” Wheeling said.
“I don’t presume to have all the solutions, but I do have faith that the knowledge is in this room and that together we will grow younger and stronger. These young peeps are our future. Let’s be part of theirs,