While 64% of life insurance producers say they are “very likely” to stay with their current company, almost 20% would consider switching firms if the company culture, style and support more closely matched their own, according to a new study entitled “It’s All About Me,” published by LIMRA, a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization.

“Just like any other relationship, the relationship between a company and a producer must be tended to and both parties must feel like it’s the right fit for them,” said Polly Painter Eggers, senior researcher, LIMRA Distribution Research. “We wanted to know whether there was a predominant issue that drove producers to switch companies or to remain loyal; what we found was there were a number of subtle indicators—weak signals—that influence producers.”

Overwhelmingly, producers see themselves as the key drivers to their success. In 2009 LIMRA’s study, Marketplace Dynamics, more than half of all producers identified personal drive and motivation as the top factors in their success. Yet, many also acknowledge the role that products, business models and support services play in achieving their long-term goals. This support can either help keep a producer happy in his current work situation or not.

Strong office support with knowledgeable staff and cutting edge technology solutions are some of the most important components supporting producer success. LIMRA found that any office support that saves producers’ time is highly valued, since it frees up time for them to visit with clients or pursue new business leads.

But the level of support services provided may not determine whether a producer stays or leaves. Different people have different working styles. Some need more flexibility while others flourish in a structured environment. Managers need to work with their producers to find the right balance—one that not only fits the company’s culture but also matches the producer’s style.

Ultimately, LIMRA research shows that most producers who had switched companies did so because the relationship with the existing company had slowly eroded over time. Producers who switched firms mentioned feeling “detached” or “underappreciated.” To prevent this, companies need to encourage managers to keep the lines of communication open—not just for those struggling but for the top producers.

“It’s clear that high-performing producers will always be in demand,” said Painter Eggers. “A successful retention program works to provide not just strong service support, but also offers training and flexibility to meet the individual needs of their producers.”

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