Alexandria, Va. — Future One, a collaboration of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) and leading independent agency companies, released key findings from their biennial “Agency Universe Study,” (INN December 5) which revealed the need for young, female and minority professionals in the independent insurance agency system.

The survey results point to InVEST, a Big “I” program in dozens of classrooms across the country, as a solution, with 56% of respondents stating that the insurance industry should encourage high schools and community colleges to help students plan for insurance careers. Also, 45% of agencies said they would consider participating in an internship program to bring new people into the insurance industry.

“Young people, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in the independent agency system, particularly among agency principals,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” VP for education and research. “The Agency Universe Study provides our industry with vital information and an opportunity to grow and improve.”

The study also found that 11% of the agencies participating in the 2008 Agency Universe Study are relatively new, founded in 2004 or later (including 4% founded in 2007 or 2008). The good news is that new agencies were mostly headed by younger principals. The average age of respondents from all agencies is 52, compared to 47 from new agencies.

“The average age of a professional in the insurance industry is 54 and 60% of insurance industry professionals are older than 45,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “Many in the industry laud the Big ’I’ InVEST program as one of the most important projects to ensure the continuing success and growth of the independent insurance agency system.”

“As more baby boomers retire, the need for young talent is evident,” says Bill Pierson, Big “I” assistant vice president of agent development and executive director of the InVEST Program. “To combat the generational transition, action needs to be taken now to train entry level recruits and cultivate the growth of management level employees so they can take over as boomers retire.”

As a 501(c)(3) educational trust, InVEST benefits from the support of numerous insurance organizations, hundreds of agencies, brokers and volunteers. The program provides the insurance industry with motivated, talented and intelligent professionals through a support structure of state associations, board members, national staff, teachers and the many industry professionals who work in the field as classroom liaisons.

The high school curriculum is a business-education program that utilizes a hands-on approach which simulates an insurance agency and company operations to prepare students for various business careers. At the college level, InVEST is an information-intensive curriculum of risk management and financial services. These courses provide students with a working knowledge of the basics needed to pursue careers in the insurance industry.

The 2008 Agency Universe Study is the ninth in a series that was first conducted in 1983. Subsequent studies were released in 1987, 1992, 1996, and 2000. Since 2000, the study has been completed biennially. Since 2004, the Agency Universe Study has relied on Internet data collection. A small sampling of agencies participated via fax, as well. Approximately 1,900 agencies were included in the 2008 analysis. The study represents a comprehensive look at the independent agency system by surveying a wealth of issues about independent agencies operating in the U.S., including their numbers, revenue base and sources, number of employees, ownership, mix of business, diversification of products, technology uses, non-insurance income sources, and marketing methods.

Source: The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America

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