Jim Masiello of SIAA knows a thing or two about effective leadership and leading through change. He's seen his share of hard and soft markets over more than 20 years at the helm of this highly successful independent agents' membership organization.
SIAA’s unique business model continues to bring profitible premium and quality relationship integration between member agencies and strategic partner companies. Following are excerpts of a recent interview.
In light of recent commission cut announcements and increased competition, what advice would you give to independent agents?
The independent insurance arena continues to be a very rewarding business to be in, from both financial and personal rewards perspectives. Every industry goes through changes, and insurance is no different. Existing agencies need to be aware that they have to adapt and embrace change as an opportunity.
The insurance industry will continue to have market cycles, with both hard markets and soft markets. SIAA has been through these various market types before and has seen growth every year based on the ability to adapt, be nimble and embrace opportunities. Despite the additional challenges surrounding the industry, in 2016 SIAA signed more than 400 member agencies for the eighth year in a row. We also have more than $6.6 billion of in-force premium.
What opportunities do you see for 2017 and beyond?
This year, independent agents should be diversifying business lines and rounding out product offerings. One area ripe for growth for many independent agents is small commercial business and life & benefits. The challenge is knowing how to win it. Know your customers, do your homework and know as much as you can about the business you are courting.
A well-run agency will not only write personal lines and commercial lines, but will offer life, disability, health, 401(k) annuities and associated products. This increases the bottom line and the value an independent agent brings to its clients. It’s a win-win, as the more value an independent agent brings to its clients, the higher client retention will rise. In the end, it’s more profitable to cross-sell an existing customer than court a new one.
Read the full article, printed in the February issue of Best’s Review, Issue’s and Answers – Career Development edition.