Most of us take pride in our individuality. We want to be independent and in control of our fortunes. We are totally willing to rise or fall based on our own abilities. This attitude epitomizes the great American tradition of rugged individualism that sprouted during our country’s infancy. Despite this instinctive desire for individualism, most successful people recognize that in the more developed, complicated, and highly regulated society of today, no man is, as they say, an island.
Those who thrive in an organized, complex society join clubs, fraternities, sororities, churches, and other organizations. Why? Because there is strength in the unity of greater numbers bound together for a common cause. In short, despite strong individual egos, most of us can be more productive when we associate with others who have interests we can relate to, interests that are parallel to our own. This is no truer than in today’s life insurance and annuity industries.
The ability to make independent decisions as to what is best for our clients and our future is the reason why so many talented individuals have been attracted to our industry. This personal trait also applies in spades to those who have worked hard to build independent brokerage general agencies or marketing companies. In the “old days,” being called an independent agent or agency was a badge of honor to be worn proudly. However, recognition that we can no longer go it alone in a changed and threatening environment is a reality those of us in the life insurance industry must accept.
Barely a day goes by without an attack on the products we offer and the manner they are sold from the media, regulators, or opportunistic lawyers. Who is going to stand up for and defend the independent agent, brokerage agency, and marketing company? Who feels safe relying on the companies that, when under attack, circle the wagons and act as though the independent agent who sold the policy is some type of out-of-control renegade? The companies build layer upon layer of processes and procedures to protect themselves, all the while making the sale more difficult.
The bottom line is that it is still possible to be independent, but it’s tough to be alone.
The essence of rugged individualism is to do things for yourself. But to survive the tumultuous sales environment that exists today, independent agents and marketing organizations are going to have to become dependent on one another. The way to translate this into action is to build up a network of individuals and brokerage agencies that face the same challenges and issues. Through this type of networking, independent agents and agencies can develop and share better techniques for training, recruiting, prospecting, and disseminating product information. Taking on the issues and challenges of the insurance industry today can be easier and more effective for those who work together in a network of sharing ideas and solutions.
Quite frankly, there is not a better way to start or to become involved than by joining and being an active member of the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA). For over 25 years, NAILBA has been on the front lines, dedicated to supporting, defending, and informing independent agents and agencies. No other organization has been so focused on the success of the independent agent. And no organization is more needed today than NAILBA.
Being an active member of NAILBA or other groups that focus on supporting the independent agent effort offers two benefits. Obviously, the larger the membership of the organization, the stronger and more influential it becomes. Being an active member of such groups also affords you the opportunity to meet and network with others who have your same needs and interests. It all boils down to the fact that you can be independent, but you don’t have to be alone.
This article bylined by Bob MacDonald was originally printed in Insurance Marketing, the premier source for marketers of life, health, and financial products.)CLICK HERE for more blogs by Mac