By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
We've all heard the insurance industry cliches about how industry ranks are bloated with middle-aged white men. Looking over a trade show floor, that may still be more or less true, though it isn't likely to stay that way for much longer.
A new generation of talent, raised on the Internet, stands at the cusp of the industry's door, and you can't fault wholesale and captive trade lobbies for their efforts at reaching out to the new generation.
"We're reaching out and saying, 'Look, we want your help,' " William Kronenberg 3rd, president of the Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA), said in an interview with Risk & Insurance® last October.
Last fall, TMPAA launched its inaugural Leadership 2.0 meeting to underscore the importance of attracting younger members and solicit advice on how to best reach members of the under-40 generation.
TMPAA, of course, isn't alone in its quest to reach out to a younger audience.
In the past 12 months, the Captive Insurance Companies Association (CICA), and the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA), also have launched initiatives aimed at recruiting young members.
Young men and women belonging to Generation X, born between 1965 to 1982, and the generation following it, Generation Y, born between 1982 to 2000, provide a new market for insurance trade organizations.
Kudos to all the insurance groups for recognizing they are going to need as much help as they can get from up-and-comers. Even if still overrepresented by white men, the industry will at least be represented by younger white men. "The industry has changed, it's not just a family run business anymore and we need to adapt the association to meet the needs of the membership," Mark Rothert, the new president of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) said. "The annual meetings have changed considerably, too, it's not a good old boys association anymore."
In March, at the annual meeting of CICA, Chairwoman Karin Landry, managing principal of Spring Consulting Group, vowed CICA would "kick it up a notch" in its efforts to double to about 1,000 members.
"The Millennials think differently and more cooperatively," said Landry, herself the mother of a daughter who recently entered the professional ranks.
For Millennials, a group of young adults more than 70 million strong, face-to-face interaction means Facebook-to-Facebook interaction, according to futurists.
The Internet is the medium that matters most, hooked as they are on the wireless world of instantaneous information. The medium has, in fact, become the favorite of people 25 to 44 years old, according to Bill Tancer, author of the bestselling "Click."
You don't need to tell Robert Barcum, CEO of the Oklahoma City-based Unisource Program Administrators.
Barcum took his specialty in Florida workers' compensation national last year. To gear up for the expansion, he wanted to hire 50 new agents across the country, and ended up using social-media marketing. By July of last year he had added 670 e-agents, well beyond his goal of adding 600 agents in the first year, he said.
The difficult economy might have had something to do with it, of course, but he nevertheless declared the initiative a "shocking" success as people responded to his queries in droves.
While the insurance and risk management industry still may be a boys' network by an large, at least it will be a young boys' network, and that's a promising first step to embracing change.
June 1, 2010
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