Risk & Insurance’s Broker Survey Results Are In. Two Industry Veterans Give Its Surprising Results Some Context

When asked about their ability to recruit and retain talent, 59.6% of respondents said that they were “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that their firm would succeed.
By: | March 24, 2023
Topics: Brokerage

A survey of agents and brokers conducted by Risk & Insurance® at the end of 2022 has revealed some surprises, and also confirmed some marked recent industry trends.

Perhaps the most eye-opening of the survey results was in the realm of talent recruitment and retention. Although an impending insurance industry talent gap has been widely reported, fretted about and otherwise discussed, the 119 agents and brokers who answered our survey painted a much more optimistic picture.

In response to the question “How confident are you that you will be able to recruit and retain the right talent to grow and sustain your business now and going forward?” 59.6% of survey respondents said that they were “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that their firm would succeed in that task.

A further 31% of respondents said they were “unsure” whether their recruitment and retention goals would be achieved. And only 9.4% of agent and broker respondents said that they were “pessimistic” or “very pessimistic” about their talent recruitment and retention prospects.

Karen Boyle, senior vice president of human resources for the Philadelphia-based Graham Company, said the survey results didn’t surprise her. But she added some qualifiers.

“There are two things I’d like to add as clarifiers,” she said. “While we are confident in being able to recruit and retain talent, it could take a year or some substantial amount of time to find the right candidate, vet them (and for them to vet us!) and make sure they are serious about making a change,” she said.

“I think if it’s something that you are committed to doing right, you have to be picky,” she added.

Boyle said it’s not uncommon for those making hiring decisions to fall into the trap of moving to fill a position for the reason that it’s been open for a long period of time.

“If you are willing to stay the course and make sure you stay true to the skills you need and your values and your culture, I do believe you will ultimately find the person you are looking for, but it will take time,” she said.

Boyle added that since she has been in a brokerage human resources position, the length of time it takes to find more senior candidates has gotten longer. Balancing that is her observation that colleges and universities are doing a better job of turning out candidates suitable for the risk and insurance sectors.

“If you’re prepared to invest in internship programs and job rotations, I think you can ultimately set yourself up for success by hiring talent right out of college and developing them.”

Michael Cusack, senior managing director, Alliant Specialty

Michael Cusack, a Florida-based senior managing director for Alliant Specialty, said he too had a solid feeling that his firm will be able to recruit and retain the talent it needs.

“We’re pretty confident that we’re going to be okay in terms of our ability to attract and retain younger talent to facilitate the growth of this organization,” Cusack said.

Cusack points to Alliant’s marked growth over the past 10 years or so, going from a firm with $400 million in revenue to one with more than $3 billion in revenue, as a key selling point for recruits.

“There are opportunities here for really talented, energetic people to become equity participants in the company, and that is very unique,” Cusack said.

“We’re getting far more organized around the recruiting of younger talent, and we are being far more intentional about how we are doing it and where we are looking for talent,” he added.

How Hybrid Work Has Changed Operations

Another area where the survey results might raise some eyebrows was a related issue in the talent or human resources wheelhouse.

When asked “Have hybrid or remote work options been a benefit to your business or a hindrance?” just under 60% of agent and broker respondents reported that remote and hybrid work options have been a “solid benefit.”

Additionally, 23% of respondents said remote or hybrid work arrangements have had “no impact” on their operations. Less than one percent of respondents described remote and hybrid work setups as “highly detrimental.”

The Graham Company’s Boyle said she was surprised that as many as 23% of respondents reported no impact.

“The world changed overnight, so whether it was positive or negative, there had to be some impact,” she said.

“I’m not surprised people are seeing it as a benefit, though,” she added.

She cited a Graham Company experience where the company lost some talent that had moved prior to the pandemic. But, she said, the company was able to hire back some top talent by offering a remote work option due to the changes in working arrangements spurred by the pandemic.

Alliant’s Cusack said he was prepared for the worst when COVID hit, but the company’s hybrid and remote working models are performing “extremely well.”

Property Coverage Remains a Significant Challenge

Where the survey results seem to be more in line with widely reported trends is in the area of insurance market dynamics.

When asked “Which risk are your clients having the most difficulty finding coverage for?” the largest number of votes went to property coverage. Close to 40% — 47 out of the 119 agents and brokers who answered the survey — said that getting property coverage is the most challenging market reality their clients face.

Cyber is never far from the headlines when it comes to risk and insurance, and the agent broker survey results bore that out. Although concerns about property coverage were far and away the leading issue brokers reported, cyber is still a significant concern: 20% of survey respondents said obtaining cyber coverage for their clients was difficult. Not surprisingly, as commercial auto losses continue to bedevil underwriters, more than 14% of survey respondents said commercial auto insurance was a difficult cover to place.

General liability, supply chain and professional liability were also mentioned as problem areas by some survey respondents.

Construction and Health Care as Bright Business Opportunities

On the brighter side and in the area of opportunities, two business segments stood out as places agent and broker survey respondents felt there was room for growth.

With billions in infrastructure investments planned or underway, construction took the top spot; more than 26% of survey respondents said they saw opportunity there. Not far behind was health care, where more than 23% of respondents said they could see a good path forward.

In addition to this broker and agent survey, Risk & Insurance also surveyed risk managers and carriers. Watch this space for coverage of those survey responses. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

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