By Cyril Tuohy
Mark Acre, president of OneSource Insurance Group in Nixa, Mo., has a sliver of advice for young agents starting in the industry. Change is constant, so it’s critical to be able to adapt to the opportunities that come your way.
He said opportunities will undoubtedly come, but they may not always appear in the way you expect, so it’s important to keep an open mind. Sometimes opportunity comes at you obliquely, other times from out of nowhere.
He should know.
A decade ago, when he was not long out of college, he was manager of a hospital’s electronic billing department, which is where he got his first taste of insurance. After several years selling for a carrier, the 33-year-old advisor is running a life, health, benefits and property/casualty agency employing 10 people.
That’s not bad for a young leader who essentially got his foot into the industry by looking for a sales job on the Internet through websites like CareerBuilder.
“Change is constant, understanding that is important,” said Acre, this year’s recipient of the Young Advisors Team Leader award bestowed annually by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA).
Take the life and health insurance industry. The sweep and speed of reforms to the way health care is delivered were nearly unimaginable five years ago.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms expanded the insurance market by increasing the number of uninsured lives in the system. The reforms also imposed tighter cost controls and that meant thinner profit margins on every health policy insurance policy sold.
The reforms came faster than predicted in Acre’s business plan and that forced him to diversify into property-casualty coverage ahead of schedule, he told InsuranceNewsNet.
“As of late, it’s crucial to be able to adapt to new obstacles, either in technology, legislative changes or hiring the right people,” Acre said. “Be on the lookout for opportunities to adapt. Be aware that there will be changes that are going to happen. Roll with the punches.”
He did, and for now at least, he’s built himself a thriving, diversified business across the ever-changing insurance landscape.
S. Ann Pugh, CFP, of ING Financial Partners in Clinton, Mo., said Acre’s “professionalism and zeal for service to his customers are outstanding.”
She also said Acre’s “working relationship with members of Congress on both a state and national level,” are a “tremendous asset” for NAIFA.
For Acre, the business is about relationships.
Insurance has been good to him and other young OneSource advisors like Todd Bradshaw and advisor coordinator Ryan Payne. It’s also been good to the veterans on the OneSource team, folks like the husband-and-wife duo of Sharyn and Tom Roemisch.
Call Acre lucky, hard-working, smart, shrewd, a great salesman, call him Young Advisor of the Year for now. Just don’t call him lazy, dispassionate or aloof.
He’s as dedicated an agent as they come, NAIFA leaders said. “He has taken the association to a new level with his dedication and passion for NAIFA and the industry,” NAIFA President John F. Nichols said. “Mark’s leadership is an inspiration to us all.”
Acre has a personal client list also made up of many Generation Xers. He likes Gen Xers because they need help with financial planning. Not all of them, of course, but there are enough of them out there who need a plan, and need help with setting goals.
Gen Xers, he said, are generally open to help and value a relationship that comes with a face-to-face advisor.
That’s where Acre and his commission-based team can help. Acre’s team likes to build relationships and prefers building bridges with clients who value the relationship as much as his agents do. “If you have a relationship with them, they trust you to have that advice,” he said.
Everyone knows they can go to a Geico or a Progressive for cheaper auto or home insurance. Investors also know they get a “relationship” with a robot on the cheap, he said. But that’s just not what a lot of people are looking for in a relationship.
“I’m not scared of them,” he said of roboadvisors. But just because their services are available 24/7, doesn’t mean people want to have anything to do with them.
Clients, who are well aware that they have options and are free to walk out at any time, choose to be with one advisor or another, he said.
“It’s important they want to listen to what you have to say, either a roboadvisor or another financial advisor down the street,” he said. “It’s a relationship business.”
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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