As we help the country’s top commercial risk management and commercial insurance brokers to recruit the next generation of producers (or salespeople), the common education requirement is a four year college degree (a college diploma or “sheepskin”).
Occasionally we encounter a great candidate without a sheepskin — and this always gives a recruiter heartburn because the candidate will face an uphill battle to even be considered by many of our clients. Frankly, that’s probably as it should be. A 4 year college degree is a fair and reasonable requirement for this professional career.
The Benefits of Hiring a Commercial Insurance Producer with a College Degree
There are many benefits to a new producer having a 4 year degree — I list 7 of them here:
- Completing a 4 year degree shows a commitment to sacrificing time and income in the short run for a better payoff in the long run (a nice parallel to the many years of hard work a producer needs to invest to build a lucrative book of business).
- It shows you can finish something important that’s hard, frustrating and time consuming (again, a good parallel to the producer career).
- It suggests that you have basic cognitive ability to learn the technical side of the insurance business.
- College helps you to develop maturity and a host of life skills.
- A college education can help you to directly acquire useful knowledge for being a producer, for example a business major can credibly offer advice to a CFO because they understand financial statements.
- College often helps you to start a lifetime alumni network that can prove to be very beneficial for a producer.
- A college degree helps a producer to stack up their academic credentials and credibility as a trusted advisor to clients who compare them to their other trusted advisors – the accountant and the lawyer – who are loaded to the gills with formal education.
The bottom line is that we recommend you hire producers with a 4-year college degree. That said, you should also be open-minded to consider someone smart who lacks the degree but is willing and able to get it. We don’t believe you should particularly care about the major studied, where a person earned their degree, or their GPA. For a recent college graduate, you should find out and probably be wary of the extremes – a really low GPA or a really high GPA.
Do Insurance Producers Need Advanced Degrees?
A few words about advanced degrees: these are largely unnecessary in this career. In fact, I get concerned that an MBA signals that a person is more focused on a corporate or management track career and may be a poor fit for the individual contributor producer career.
The Importance of Common Sense
Beyond book smarts and formal education, you need to always hire a person with common sense who can figure stuff out quickly and solve client problems! You want to hire someone with cognitive abilities – or the smarts to be a successful commercial insurance producer – which we define as “skilled in analytical and critical thinking, in problem solving; learns rapidly; intellectually curious.” Find a truly curious person who wants to learn and who views their college education as the starting point of a career and life of learning. Find a person who is hungry to learn the profession of becoming a commercial insurance broker.