Insurance Network CEO Says Independent Agents Must Prepare for Looming Workforce Crisis

John Tiene, CEO of Agency Network Exchange, warned ANE member insurance agents that a workforce gap in the next decade will make it harder for independent agencies to find, recruit and keep new talent.

John Tiene, CEO of Agency Network Exchange, warned insurance agents at the ANE annual conference today that an unprecedented workforce gap in the next decade will make it harder for independent agencies to find, recruit and keep new talent, and ultimately stay in business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the insurance industry will have an estimated 400,000 job openings by the year 2020.

“The workforce crisis will be hardest on smaller insurance agencies with aging staff in their 50s today. Fewer producers and personnel could have big impacts on revenue and customer service that will drive existing clients away,” Tiene said.

“Tech-savvy agents who embrace mobile technologies and social media will be in a better position to compete for talent.”

Nearly 50 percent of the industry’s workforce is above the age of 45, with only 27 percent under age 35 in line to replace them. Millennials, the largest group entering the workforce, make up 25 percent of the U.S. workforce today and will be 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020. (BLS)

According to Tiene, “Insurance companies are creating innovative internship and training programs that give Millennials an opportunity to explore careers in insurance and help attract talent from outside traditional channels.”

The keynote speaker at this year’s ANE Conference was Noelle Codispoti, executive director of Gamma Iota Sigma, an international fraternity for students of insurance, risk management and actuarial science. She discussed the talent gap statistics in the insurance industry and how Millennials are responding to recruitment efforts.

“Students starting in entry level positions today are more focused on company than cash,” said Codispoti. “Companies should be open to discussing not only compensation and career growth, but also the support they are willing to give the individual in terms of professional development, as well as the company’s community outreach efforts and commitment.”

The ANE conference was attended by more than 160 independent agents and other insurance professionals from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In addition to the keynote presentation, the event featured breakout sessions for agency owners, producers, account managers and CSRs.

See the full press release on PRWeb here!


ANE Adds Seven Agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

More than $22+ Million in New Business Premiums Written Last Year

ANE, Agency Network Exchange, LLC announced it added seven new agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey last year to grow its membership to more than 50 independently owned and operated agencies. The network, which began with just seven agencies in 2009, helped its members write more than $52 million in new business premiums over the last three years and paid more than $5.6 million in profit sharing to members in the same period.

"ANE's continued momentum across New Jersey and Pennsylvania demonstrates that our business model is working for independent agencies that want to stay competitive and grow," said John Tiene, CEO, ANE. "ANE will continue to add talent, realign staff and invest in technology that drives our members' success and helps us achieve our goal of expanding the network across the Mid-Atlantic states."

ANE added four agencies in New Jersey:

  • U.S. Insurance (Newton, NJ)
  • Richards & Summers (Denville, NJ)
  • Livingston Insurance Agency (Livingston, NJ)
  • Fidella Insurance (Mount Laurel, NJ)

ANE added three agencies in Pennsylvania:

  • Absolute Insurance Agency (Upper Chichester, PA)
  • Commercial Insurance Providers Group (Levittown, PA)
  • The DeAngelo Company (Wyomissing, PA)

ANE Personnel Announcements

ANE also named Neal Stanley as interim Chief Operating Officer and consultant. Stanley joined the ANE Board of Directors in 2016 as its first independent member. Jocelyn Rineer was promoted to Vice President, Field Operations.

Stanley has over 40 years of experience as the president or senior officer of insurance companies and agencies. He recently retired from United Valley Insurance Services, Inc., one of the nation's largest agency networks, where he was a director and COO. He continues in a consulting role with the company, assisting its member agencies in perpetuation and acquisitions.

Rineer joined ANE from E&K Agency, Inc. of Eatontown, NJ, where she served for 15 years as Commercial Lines Marketing Manager with responsibility for placing a wide variety of commercial lines risks with numerous standard and wholesale outlets. As Director of Field Services, Rineer was the primary contact for ANE's New Jersey members. A licensed producer, Rineer is also a Certified Insurance Counselor.


Avoid the fate of the dodo

In this month's issue of Insurance Business America (Issue 4.12), ANE CEO John K. Tiene discusses how technology is changing everything for agents, but they underestimate just how much.

Insurance agents should heed the lesson of the dodo bird. Most notable for its sudden extinction some 300 years ago, the flightless dodo has no natural predators until humans colonized its native island, Mauritius. The clumsy birds were easy to catch and defenseless against the island's new population of cats, rats and monkeys. The demise of the dodo was swift. In just 75 years, the bird ceased to exist.

Agents stuck in the olds ways of doing business may face a future as dire as the dodo. Most agents understand that technology is changing, but they underestimate how dramatically technology is impacting the relationships they have with their clients.

Consumer expectations are evolving. Clients still want a relationship with their agent, but the nature of that relationship is very different than it was just a few years ago. From my vantage point, insurance agents are not changing fast enough to keep up, and the clock is ticking.

Agencies still look a lot like they did 20 years ago: people sitting at desks in front of computers, using the phone as the primary way to contact customers, all between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. In the next 10 years, successful insurance offices will look dramatically different. A physical office may not even exist because portals and cloud-based computing will enable clients to do many transactions themselves - faster, more efficiently and, most important, when it's convenient.

Consider the new client. At the beginning of the relationship, you have a lot of personal interaction. You're counseling them, explaining coverage options, building a relationship. Eventually you sell them a policy. At this point, a lot of agents would send a paper policy. But today's clients don't want a stack of paper. They expect a portal connected to an app on their phone, laptop or tablet where they can access all the information they need: policies, ID cards, driver information and so on. Using the portal, they can also chat with agents and download forms.

The connected consumer of today is already using technology to buy their groceries, clothes, utilities and financial services. Companies like Amazon, Google and Charles Schwab are leading the way, defining what convenience and efficiency looks like in the minds of our clients. For example, Charles Schwab customers can interact with a financial advisor in person or via text, email or phone.

At some point, consumers are going to ask themselves, "How come I can't do insurance this way?" If agents don't embrace technology to offer a multi-channel approach with the convenience and ease of use that clients expect, they will no longer be relevant. Their clients are going to migrate to new insurance channels, and it won't be easy to get them back.

It's not just about retaining clients; it's about attracting new clients, too. Disruptors in the insurance marketplace are even further along in terms of technology adoption and integration, and they're threatening the traditional distribution insurance model. Lemonade, for example, is a new peer-to-peer insurtech startup that promises customers instantaneous homeowner's and renter's insurance quotes with a simple swipe of their smartphone. A feature called "switching" allows users to cancel policies, obtain a refund and buy a new policy with the click of a button. Within the first 48 hours of launching in New York, the company had 142 policies and thousands of dollars in premiums. No agents involved. There are hundreds of these disruptors looking to build a better mousetrap.

Independent insurance agents have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace - existing relationships with clients, the ability to provide consultative advice and a tradition of serving their communities. A well trained, knowledgeable insurance professional will always be successful because clients still want the counsel and support that only a real live professional can provide. However, the nature of that relationship must change for that agent to survive. Today's tech-savvy clients want to be able to do things seamlessly without making a phone call. They don't need advice and consultation to manage billing or get an ID card.

This kind of change is not easy, but it is essential. Agents resistant to change will be viewed as slow and old-fashioned. Their clients will move to an insurance platform that fits their lifestyle demands. Before long, these agents may find themselves out of business and, as the saying goes, "as dead as the dodo."

See the full publication here.


Be Prepared & Prevent Winter Weather Damage

Seneca Insurance Company has provided us with some great material on how to prevent frozen pipes and winter weather damage to your home or business.

Damages can range from a few hundred dollars in to the millions, depending on where in the building the damage occurs. Freezing of pipes usually occurs in unheated or poorly heated locations within the building such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, electrical and plumbing chases, spaces adjacent to elevator shafts, skylights, broken or defective windows, or other openings and against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.

One cause of pipe freezing is loss of interior building heat, either from running out of fuel for the heating system, loss of electric power or loss of gas, propane, oil or other fuel may also result in a disruption to heating systems.

Prevention Can Be Simple

  • Look in unheated areas such as the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and/or against exterior walls for water supply lines and fire protective sprinkler systems. Both hot and cold water pipes as well as fire protective systems in these areas should be insulated. For severe situations consider wrapping or lining pipes per the manufacturers instructions with thermostatically controlled heat tape, which will turn on at certain minimum temperatures to prevent pipes from freezing. Seal leaks and replace missing insulation. Consult your sprinkler maintenance contractor prior to wrapping sprinkler pipes.
  • Each year before winter sets in, have your heating system inspected and/or serviced by a properly licensed and insured HVAC company to ensure that your system is prepared for the winter months ahead.

For the full list of prevention tips, click the link here!


ANE Adds First Independent Board Member Neal Stanley, Raymond Pavese Elected Chairman of Board

ANE, Agency Network Exchange LLC, announced that it has added Neal Stanley as the first independent member of the ANE Board of Directors. ANE has also elected Raymond Pavese as Chairman of the Board.

"Neal Stanley, who adds greater depth and expertise to our Board as we pursue new strategic directions that add value for our agency members and their clients," said John Tiene, CEO, ANE. " As Chairman of the Board, Ray Pavese continues his commitment to ANE that started when he helped to found the company seven years ago."

"ANE is one of the most innovative models for agents," said Neal Stanley - recently elected to the ANE Board of Directors. "I'm very pleased to continue my involvement with independent agents working with ANE."

Stanley has more than 30 years of experience in the management and direction of insurance companies and agencies. He recently retired as Chief Operating Officer for United Valley Insurance Services, Inc., an agency cluster in California. He joined United Valley in 2002 as executive vice president to manage its Retail Agency and to lead the Agency Acquisition Program. Stanley has served on the Board of Directors of various industry organizations and is an active member of the State Bar of California.

"It's a privilege to serve ANE in this new role," said Pavese. "Our industry is changing quickly and in dynamic ways. ANE is committed to helping independent insurance agents remain independent."

A founder of ANE, Pavese began his career at the Prudential Life Insurance Company after graduating from Roger Williams University in 1986. Within a year, he joined his father at the Pavese-McCormick Insurance Agency in New Jersey, where he expanded the agency footprint from Middlesex County to thousands of clients throughout the state. He bought the agency with Michael McCormick from their fathers, and today it is one of the largest in central New Jersey with clients across the Mid-Atlantic region. He is the past president of the Middlesex County Independent Insurance Agents, Exchange Club of New Brunswick, the Brunswick Bank and Trust Advisory Board, and the Executive's Association of New Jersey, one of the oldest and most prestigious networking organizations in the state.

ANE has grown from just seven members on 2009 to more than 45 independent insurance agencies with over $150 million in controlled premiums. In 2014, ANE announced plans to expand into Pennsylvania and other mid-Atlantic states. In the last three years, ANE has helped its members write more than $75 million in organic new business. The network paid more than $1.8 million in profit sharing to members last year.


Help Your Agency Meet Customer Expectations

With 2.4 billion smartphone users by the end of 2017, how is your agency providing assurance to customers?

Insurance buyers turn to independent agents for assurance that the bases are covered and their risks are mitigated by a professional. Their expectations for engagement with their agent during this process has changed rapidly and will not stop evolving. Focusing on an Omni-channel experience with your client will satisfy their need for fast interaction, but still provide personalized touches only an independent agent can provide.

Empowered by technology, your customers have more leverage than ever before. You as an agency principal or staff have to embrace four imperatives:

  1. For speed, tap into mobile connections.
  2. For intelligence, set up systems to gather customer knowledge.
  3. For impact, build a better customer experience.
  4. To become more flexible, embrace digital transformation.

Meeting these changing customer expectations is hard and not every agency will pursue it equally. Watch Ellen Carney, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc. teach us about data driven marketing, customer buying habits, and the future of the independent insurance agency.

SEE THE FULL VIDEO HERE


Staying Relevant in the Age of the Customer

ANE CEO John K. Tiene's featured article in this week's edition of Insurance Journal.

Laptops, smartphones and tablets are giving consumers the power to make buying decisions from anywhere, and at any moment of their choosing.

“We’ve entered this new age — the age of the customer,” said Ellen Carney, principal analyst, Forrester Research at the ANE, Agency Network Exchange annual conference in April. “Digital has moved that power shift into the hands of customers.”

Forrester predicts 2.4 billion smartphone users and another 651 million tablet users by the end of 2017. The pervasiveness of these devices has changed consumer expectations: insurance agents need to provide their clients with the tools they want to interact with the agency. Agencies must have a robust mobile-friendly website, a mobile app, client portal and provide a location-specific experience.

Agents must rethink how they use technology to improve, differentiate from competitors and make data work for them.

At the ANE conference, I asked several industry executives and ANE member agents for their thoughts on how agents can stay relevant in the age of the customer:

  • Matt Kirk, senior vice president, The Hartford: “Your clients are going to need advice and counsel about the products they are buying. They expect you to take care of their needs. That doesn’t change. What is their expectation of that engagement? How will you communicate with them? The way they are engaged is going to change, and it will change rapidly.”
  • Gary Capone, vice president, Franklin Mutual Insurance Co.: “People still want to do business with an independent agent. Millennials are not just looking to buy online. They want professional advice. You have to listen to the customer, give them what they want, the way they want it, be very flexible and use many channels.”
  • Bob Redden, vice president, Selective Insurance Companies: “The challenge is where to start. Everyone has limited resources. Where do you get the best return? Moving forward, a focus on an omni-channel experience for the customer becomes even more critical. You may have customers who prefer to interact by phone, some by web or text. One way to be relevant is to let them know their options.”
  • Ellen Carney, principal analyst, Forrester: “A lot of organizations are available to help independent agents. You can have the same advantage as the most technically sophisticated agency. Someone else can manage the infrastructure, make sure the experience is fast, easy to navigate, and meets expectations in terms of mobile, social and whatever the next digital touchpoint could be. Technology is a lot different than it was in the 1990s when you had to build it yourself. Now there’s someone else who will build it and by the end of the day, you are up and running.”
  • Freddie Marin, ANE agent, Your Insurance Solutions: “I was afraid that physical agencies were no longer relevant. Everybody is addicted to cellphones and 80 percent are doing research online, but they are looking for agents. You have to learn to interact in a new way through technology, but still provide the personal touch that a digital device can’t provide.”
  • Doug Mohr, vice president, Vertafore: “It’s those little touches. I get the Starbuck’s card on my birthday, a note when it’s time for renewal. I think of my agent first before I think of the company. It’s because my agent has that personal touch.”
  • George Reese, agent, Henry Young Insurance Agency: “We are in a changing world and the pace of change is accelerating. We need to be open to everybody in all the various ways they want to communicate, and be responsive to that.”

Read the full article HERE


All About Leverage LLC One-Time Promo for ANE Agents

"Leveraging LinkedIn & Social Selling for Business Development, Thought Leadership & Power Networking" conference break-out session presenter Bobbie Foedisch offers ANE Agents one-time promotion, valid through May 31st.

ANE received wonderful feedback from all who attended the LinkedIn break-out session at our Annual Conference that presenter Bobbie Foedisch is offering our Member Agents specialty discounts on FOUR amazing classes. Options include:

  1. Corporate Training Program
  2. Executive Coaching Package
  3. Referral Networking Group Program
  4. LinkedIn Profile Optimization

You may choose to take advantage of one, two or ALL of these services from All About Leverage LLC. REDEEM COUPONS HERE

During the break-out session, Bobbie also provided ANE a discounted rate on her public LinkedIn & Social Selling classes. Find the public class schedule here. Simply enter code 'ANE50' when registering for a 50% discount on any public class through June 2016.

If you have any questions or would like additional information regarding All About Leverage LLC's services, please contact Bobbie at mailto:bobbie@allaboutleveragellc.com


Annual Conference Presentations

Find all of our breakout presentations from our Annual Conference here!

Keynote Speaker Ellen Carney, Forrester Research, Inc. The Agent in the Age of the Customer Part 1 The Agent in the Age of the Customer Part 2

John K. Tiene, ANE "What Profit Sharing Income Means for Your Agency"

Jeff Lewis and Pete Luciano, Balance Point Payroll "Why the Competition Wants Your Clients"

Dino Carbone, SmartPay "SmartPay: Your Agency's Newest Sales Tool"

Janice Pierson, Michelle Woods & Doug Mohr, Vertafore "Staying Relevant with Vertafore Part 1" "Staying Relevant with Vertafore Part 2" "Staying Relevant with Vertafore Part 3"

Vince Perna & Natina Berry, SRP SRP: Access You Need, Service You Want

Please take a moment to complete our Conference Survey

"The New Reality & You"by John K. Tiene


Forrester Analyst Says Insurance Agents Must Embrace Digital Technologies to Stay Relevant at 2016 ANE Conference

At the Agency Network Exchange Annual Conference this week, Forrester Principal Analyst Ellen Carney told independent insurance agents they must exploit digital technologies that create value and increase operational agility to stay relevant in the face of new competition from digital "disruptors" that are changing the way insurance is sold and serviced.

In Carney's keynote, "The Agent in the Age of the Customer: The Customer-Driven Changes that are Remaking Insurance," she outlined four market imperatives for independent agents:

  • Turn big data into business insights
  • Transform the customer experience
  • Embrace the mobile mind shift
  • Accelerate your digital business

"Agents who want to succeed must change how they do business by embracing the digital technologies today's consumers are looking to utilize," said John Tiene, CEO, ANE.

"Change is never easy, but it is essential and necessary to keep clients from migrating away from independent agents. ANE is helping our agents succeed by giving them the tools they need to transform their businesses."

Last year, ANE announced an agreement to make Vertafore the exclusive provider of agency management technology solutions for ANE members. ANE agencies receive preferred support and pricing for the Vertafore Agency Platform -- comprehensive software that helps agents easily and economically grow new business, retain clients, maximize profitability and manage business lines.

The ANE conference was attended by more than 160 independent agents and other insurance professionals from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The event featured six break-out sessions for agency owners, producers, account managers and CSRs. Carney also participated in a panel with executives from The Hartford, Selective Insurance Company and Vertafore to discuss "What Agents Need to do to Stay Relevant."