Business Reasons for Giving Back

There’s a lot to be said for independence. By becoming independent, a person can break away from doing the things that are most important to the group – whatever group that might be – and focus more on what’s most important to the individual. And through that more individualized focus, a good deal of growth can occur.

But working independently does not mean working in a vacuum. Independent brokerage general agencies benefit immensely from being members of study groups and NAILBA. Independent advisors benefit immensely from being members of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), the Society of Financial Service Professionals (Society of FSP), and other such organizations. Quite simply, there can be real value for independent professionals and business operations to come together and share ideas, buying power, and knowledge about how to succeed.

Success – however one defines that term – is typically what people in this business are striving for. For the independent advisor or independent business operation alike, people are often looking toward other more successful advisors and operations as they consider and formulate their own success goals. You can see that at the MDRT annual meeting each year when younger advisors search out the “rock star” producers to emulate. If you are successful in this business, you can bet that a lot of less successful advisors are intensely interested in how you do it.

One of the great things about this business is that there is so much opportunity that there isn’t that intense “if I share, you win” competitive attitude – at least there shouldn’t be. Professional openness can be a great thing in this business because it helps spread the word about the importance of life insurance in the strong financial plan. The best advisors understand this, and are not afraid of sharing ideas on how they’ve succeeded.

In fact, the best advisors I know actually feel an intense desire to mentor younger or less-experienced advisors. They may not have the time or outlet for doing that directly, in many cases, but they find other ways to share.

This sharing mentality is even more crucial in the independent side of this business, because there often isn’t a person who readily fills that traditional general agent role of trainer and coach. The independent advisor or marketing firm can too easily feel like they exist on a sales and marketing island with nowhere to turn for fresh ideas and motivation.

I encourage you to help eliminate those common struggles of the independent by finding some ways to give back. And here are some suggestions:

  • If you operate a wholesale operation, support those kinds of producer organizations. If you’re not in a position to financially support them, then support them with your attendance and time.
  • Offer to speak in front of these groups. They are always looking for speakers with experience or expertise in specialty areas.
  • Share your ideas in articles. Although in recent years there’s been an obvious shrinkage in print publications for advisors, there are still lots of online media outlets, and the editors for many of them would love to consider your articles for publication.
  • Get to know the younger advisors in your area personally. Invite them to lunch to listen to their challenges and offer advice – or just a listening ear – when you can.
  • Support the organizations that educated you. Give back when you can to your high school, your college, and the industry institutions from which you attained your degrees and your designations.
  • Join professional organizations like NAILBA on the national level, or a local chapter of a professional organization, and actually attend your local meetings.

There are many ways to give back, and you’ll start seeing them all around you once you are in the mindset. It’s an important mindset to cultivate if the wonderful rewards of independence are to continue.

Chuck Hirsch is the former editor and publisher of Life Insurance Selling magazine. He continues to contribute to insurance industry publications, in addition to providing consulting and marketing services through his firm, Hirsch Communications Consulting, LLC. He can be reached at [email protected].