Education's Effect on Agent Business
Regardless of the size of your company, the number of employees you have or their roles within the business, educational development is essential if you want your business to succeed. After all, it’s hard to learn and grow if you don’t know what opportunities are available to you.
The insurance industry has changed dramatically in recent years, and will continue to change thanks to advancements in technology and changes in people’s lifestyles. As a result, education is something agents should be pursuing every day.
Here are a variety of professional development opportunities you may want to incorporate into your company if they aren’t established already.
Mentoring programs help get new employees, and those moving into new positions, up to speed quickly by pairing them with knowledgeable employees who can show them the ropes. But that’s not the only benefit this type of education offers. Mentoring programs also help build trust among employees, improve the rate of acquiring new skills and show employees the company is committed to growing them and the business.
Too often, smaller companies don’t even consider training their employees because they think the process will be too expensive and they haven’t budgeted for it. But the truth of the matter is a small investment on the front end can pay huge dividends.
Training should be part of every insurance company’s annual employee plan, as it’s a great way to build loyalty among your staff, and to ensure that employees learn the proper procedures from the get-go. This is also the time and place new employees can gain exposure to all the different insurance policies that are offered by the company.
If you are affiliated with a carrier, see what training programs and tools are available from the head-office or if they offer an incentive for continuing education within the industry.
As with almost any industry, there are many options for continued education online. If you're as busy as most insurance agents then this might be a good opportunity to work at your own pace. A good palce to start is 360Training's Insurance Program where you can sharpen your skills in several categories including annuities, life insurance, consumer protection laws, and even state specific topics.
Taking on different roles outside your comfort zone from time to time can offer a tremendous learning experience. An agent who is suddenly exposed to how things work in payroll, for example, will learn in an instant how important it is to clearly record their hours. On the other hand, an accountant who is asked to sell policies for a week will learn why it is so hard for some agents to get their hours turned in on time.
Conferences, Industry Newsletters and Tuition Reimbursement
For those who have outgrown the education opportunities available on the inside, good options are to subscribe to industry newsletters and give staffers access to them, to send them to industry conferences, and to offer tuition reimbursement for those who wish to return to school and enhance their skills.
Some good places to turn for lists of industry approved educators and training programs include The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents and National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. All three organizations have websites that are updated regularly and offer access to reputable sources for education on topics related to insurance.
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, in fact, has an entire section of its website dedicated to education. Members have 24/7 access to white papers and webinars posted to the site as part of the organization’s Professional Development System.