A few years ago, most commercial insurance brokers required a new producer (salesperson) to possess a four-year college degree.
As the economy booms and sales talent gets scarcer, most of our clients are now open to hire a great sales person without a college degree.
That makes sense.
College degree preferred — versus required — widens the candidate pool.
A 4-year college degree remains preferred for this professional career for many reasons.
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:
- 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 an insurance producer must invest to build a lucrative book of business).
- It shows you can finish something important that’s often hard, frustrating, and time consuming (again, a great 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 more 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 in comparison to the client’s other trusted advisors – their accountant and 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.
You should stay open-minded to consider someone smart who lacks the degree but is willing and able to get one or brings other impressive experience (such as military service).
We don’t believe you should care about the major studied, where a person earned their degree, or their GPA.
(For a recent college graduate with little else to go on, you should find out and be wary of the extremes – a really low or really high GPA.)
Do Insurance Producers Need Advanced Degrees?
A few words about advanced degrees: these are 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; not that that’s a bad thing but it may suggest a poor fit for the individual contributor producer career. Some people chase an MBA with the notion that it will automatically translate into higher income levels; great producer candidates understand that doing the hard work and growing their clientele is the route to a big-time 6-figure income.
The Importance of Common Sense
Beyond book smarts and formal education, you need to hire a person with common sense and street smarts. Someone who can figure stuff and people out and solve client problems!
Hire someone with cognitive abilities – 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 formal 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.