Many insurance executives will agree that attracting and retaining young workers is a current challenge. After conducting focus groups and studies, LIMRA research attributes some of this problem to misperceptions about the industry.

The study finds that Gen X and Y job seekers are interested in working in a stable industry with lots of growth potential and opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. What they don’t know, however, is that the financial services industry provides this, LIMRA officials note. 

"Gen X and Y job seekers have some real misperceptions about the financial services industry and the image of a sales person within the industry," says Polly Painter Eggers, analyst, LIMRA Distribution Research. "We know that many of these disconnects are just a lack of understanding by both the job seekers and recruiters."

A LIMRA study of 272 recruiters from across the financial services industry showed that many companies have held on to traditional recruiting and compensation structures that, while popular with Baby Boomers, have not attracted younger job seekers.

For example, Gen X and Y job seekers surveyed said they value stability and security over the potential of making a lot of money; however industry recruiters still try to lure potential candidates with the opportunity to make money and the lifestyle that follows.

The research goes on to note that Gen X and Y job seekers are always networking online—both personally and professionally—and expect to have the latest technological tools at their disposal to help them communicate with their network.

Many companies have been slow to adopt new technologies into their business practices. As a result, industry recruiters describe building a network in the traditional ways—through social events and other contacts.

For the most part, the study says that Gen X and Y job seekers are interested in being part of a team that they feel will make a difference in their world. Conversely, industry recruiters often emphasize the individual aspects of sales and the ability to ‘be your own boss’, rather than the team element, according to LIMRA.

"Most industry sales positions have significant support through their field managers and other staff support," says Painter Eggers. "And while the first five years may be challenging, agents who make it though stay on the job because the industry offers the stability and security second to none."

While the financial services industry reportedly has one of the most rigorous recruiting processes, it seems to work for those who get through the process. LIMRA found that 85% of financial representatives are extremely satisfied with their choice of profession and 66% would highly recommend their profession to young job seekers.

Burns writes for Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication.

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