Recruiting Female Agents Has Its Benefits

The Top 3 Reasons Women Should Be Rehired:

1. Successful interactions: Females can relate to female prospects and clients, which makes it easier to understand their needs.

2. Strong contacts: Women often have strong connections, whether in their community or their previous professions. This can help them build solid practices.

3. Popular Demand: There are many agencies that target female agents, both large and small. This gives women investors the option to choose an insurance company that meets their needs. You’re losing business to someone who can meet the need.

Danica Patrick did it. Hilary Clinton did it. Now, thousands of women in the financial service industry are doing it. They’re succeeding in a world that was once male-dominated. The industry is changing, and so are the people who represent it.

Magnetic Attraction Recruiting: Female Insurance Agents Despite the fact that female representation is much lower than its male counterpart, it continues to increase year after year. Many large financial companies are creating recruitment campaigns and initiatives that focus on women.

It is changing how we recruit, support and keep female agents. Financial institutions are increasingly accepting female candidates as prime candidates. Companies are now competing for female talent. Companies must continue to be competitive with their forward-thinking counterparts by advancing and recruiting women. Heidi Spilotros, MassMutual’s Director of Women’s Recruitment, stated that “not only is it right to do it, but it’s also the smartest thing to do.” Financial services companies must also be better able to understand women clients and prospects in order to best serve this market segment.

MassMutual is a leader in helping females succeed by recruiting, retaining, and supporting them to succeed. To help them succeed, it is important to understand their motivations and needs. Spilotros is perhaps the most knowledgeable person about what female agents want. She understands the need to balance work and family life. Spilotros traveled across the country during her eighth month of gestation to better understand what women desire.

MassMutual has successfully attracted female agents through its emphasis on the positive aspects of a career in financial services, including the challenge, entrepreneurial spirit and financial rewards, as well as the flexibility. MassMutual is such a great insurance company that it was named a Working Mother Magazine 100 Best Company in 2007.

Although the financial services industry has made many strides in recent times when it comes to female candidates, this has not been true for all companies. Geoff Kaltenbach is Associate Managing Partner at Signature Resources in Irvine, CA. He says that the insurance industry has been less successful in these areas than other trades such as pharmaceutical sales.

Kaltenbach starts at the university level to recruit talented females. To recruit potential interns, Kaltenbach’s firm partners with three local sororities. This extremely effective strategy has brought in many referrals to the company. Many of the firm’s advisors and staff are graduates of the internship program. Kaltenbach stated, “Start at the university level because they know people with similar work ethics and that creates nice centers of talent.”

Signature Resources employs women, but the firm actively searches for qualified candidates regardless of gender. However, there are many benefits to hiring women. Kaltenbach insists that women can be successful in this industry.

According to Kaltenbach, typically, women in their late teens and early twenties have more maturity and empathy than their male counterparts. They also tend to be more creative and fashion-savvy. Many human resource directors are also female and feel more comfortable with the same sex. Female representation is therefore even more important in building the company.

It is often not the company that actively recruits agents, but an individual who is looking for a new job. Julie Wilkerson quit her successful career as a salesperson and marketer to seek new opportunities after a car accident that left her family in financial and medical distress. Wilkerson was shocked to discover that her insurance coverage was inadequate. She felt an obligation to educate others about areas she didn’t know and decided that the insurance industry was the best place to do so.

Colonial Life was ultimately able to win Wilkerson’s trust with its reputation for customer satisfaction and promise to educate agents. Wilkerson didn’t commit to Colonial Life until she had done her research on the supplemental insurer. Wilkerson said, “What impressed me most was the longevity of Colonial Life’s agents.” “I was searching for a company that cared about its employees.”

Wilkerson’s research paid off. Colonial Life provided the ethical component Wilkerson sought. Wilkerson said, “The ladies’ room buzz is pretty telling.” It’s rewarding to hear agents remark on how great their year was, not only financially but also from a people perspective. It’s an honor to work with them.”

Help and support
Some agents define support as technology-based solutions, while others see it as emotional support.

Signature Resources provides support to its 100+ agents (20 percent of whom are women) with the right tools and resources. EchoWealth is a web-based program that analyzes needs and provides financial reports, motivational calculators, and intelligent content. Kaltenbach stated, “It’s our Wikipedia and it supports all we do.” “Having an immediate access to something for your client and yourself is the most important thing that we do.

Wilkerson was able to benefit from Colonial Life’s resources, including a website that answers all questions about the competition and specific policies, newsletters full of field agent-related stories, sales techniques, and product education, as well as workshops and conferences.

Although having the right resources are important to help clients and advance your career, there are other factors that can be considered when supporting female agents. These include integrity and the ability of the agent to maintain a family and work life balance.

You need to have support in order to grow your business. You want to make sure that the support you receive is from a reliable company. Wilkerson said, “I wasn’t going to snorkel in a polluted swimming pool.” He also places great importance on the company’s reputation. “I can talk with passion and sincerity regarding the company.”

Wilkerson can use the suite of support services to help her run her business, but not just for herself. This career offers Wilkerson flexibility and allows her to have a fulfilling life while still maintaining a family life. Wilkerson stated, “I choose where, when and how I travel.”

MassMutual, like Colonial Life and Signature Resources, is supportive of all its agents regardless of gender. The company does recognize that there are some accommodations that are more appealing to female associates. Spilotros stated, “Success breeds success. So one of the best ways to attract female agents to MassMutual is to show them how MassMutual women can build and grow great careers.” “Part of our success is due to the fact we celebrate and highlight the accomplishments of our women advisors, so that newer recruits may see themselves in that role.”

The company’s recruiting website features a female agent discussing her role. The company also hosts mentor programs, organizes an annual conference for female agents that focuses on unique challenges faced by women, and actively participates in groups like Women in Insurance and Financial Services, which is an organization that supports, encourages, and advances the success of women in financial and insurance services.

Provide strong support results in higher retention rates.

Conserve: Keep the fire ablaze
Many agencies face retention issues. It is possible to retain staff members if you provide the right support. Rewards are one way to retain employees. Reward options come in many flavors, just like policies. The rules have changed, whether they are commission-based, bonus plan driven or verbal recognition.

Wilkerson believes that rewards can be measured qualitatively. Wilkerson stated that hardworking women don’t always receive recognition and need encouragement. “I get such positive feedback from this company as well as the clients that I serve.”

Others may see success in a quantitative way. Signature Resources plans to keep its current female agents and expand it to between 30-40 percent over the next few years. This is a significant increase from the two percent that was just a few years ago.

MassMutual’s female agents have grown steadily over the past eight years, to 16% like Signature Resources. MassMutual’s 2007 recruiting classes were 21% female, which is a strong indicator of the future growth of female agents. As it launches new initiatives to better target all ethnicities of women and help them transition into a career, the company expects further growth. Spilotros stated that in order to compete in the future as a company, it must be able to service the rapidly growing market of women consumers. To do this, the company needs talented people – both male and female. Our company will prosper if we are able to attract, retain, and help others succeed.