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About SRG

Succession Resource Group is a boutique succession consulting firm based in the Pacific Northwest, serving clients across the country. SRG was founded by David Grau Jr., MBA in 2012 after nearly a decade of helping advisors with valuation and succession planning. SRG's team of experts leverage their industry expertise, combined with best-in-class resources, to help advisors, agents, and accountants manage the equity in their businesses...

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4 min read

Top 10 Tips: Succession Planning for Insurance Agencies

Dec 18, 2019 2:49:51 PM

After witnessing hundreds of agency leadership transitions, whether it's planned, forced, tragic, or amicable, change in leadership is always difficult. You may think you have all your ducks in a row, then one will fly off on you. Here’s some help finding what could work for you:

 

Tip 1: Face Your Mortality

There will come a day when your name isn’t on the front door of the agency. Everyone dies — or retires. No matter what you tell yourself, you won’t really work until the day you die. You’ll slow down gradually until your impact ends abruptly. Make sure you have left the legacy you  intended.

Tip 2: Learn the Rules

What are the rules surrounding succession and transition of an agency within your company? Study your contracts and benefits. What compensation is vested? What is transferable? Can you name a successor? Can you enter into a succession agreement? Are contingencies like retirement, disability, death, and termination covered? Can you sell your agency? And under what conditions?

Tip 3: Have an Exit Strategy

Whether it’s live, die, quit, disability, or termination, have a strategy in place for exiting your agency. If you are within 10 years of your potential retirement date, you should have a written succession plan that identifies the potential successor or successors, defines the process for transfer, quantities the period of transition, and establishes the basis and method for payment of compensation, if any is allowed.

Tip 4: Surround Yourself With Extraordinary Talent

The great agencies have always focused on talent. Begin recruiting the best of the best of Generation Y (the Millennials), who today are roughly ages 15 to 33. Create a profile of an ideal Millennial candidate for your agency. Assess candidates for leadership potential up front. Some of the Millennials I’ve met give me great faith in the future of American business. Grow success from those seeds.

Tip 5: Replace Yourself
(We Know, You’re Irreplaceable)

There is no one else in the world just like you. So don’t waste your time looking for someone like you. Look for candidates who can perform your leadership functions, even if it ends up being more than one person. Force yourself to think through how you will be replaced.

Tip 6: Build Leaders

Train, coach, counsel, and mentor your agency managers and staff. Give them a say in strategy development and opportunities to lead. Make sure they are exposed to the home office and industry education, committees, organizations, and meetings. Create an expectation for them to build future leaders the same way that you have developed them. Build enough leaders to have more than one option for your succession plan in case circumstances change.

Tip 7: Think About Your Kids

Train, coach, counsel, and mentor your agency managers and staff. Give them a say in strategy development and opportunities to lead. Make sure they are exposed to the home office and industry education, committees, organizations, and meetings. Create an expectation for them to build future leaders the same way that you have developed them. Build enough leaders to have more than one option for your succession plan in case circumstances change.

Tip 8: Leverage Success

As an industry, we’ve done a terrible job developing the sons and daughters of our top producers and field leaders. Too often they’re treated with “kid gloves.” If you can’t set high standards and accountability for them, get help for them from a coach or mentor who will.

Tip 9: Practice Letting Go

This may be a humbling thought, but what matters to you may not matter to others. Succession planning is about doing the right things, not about being right. If there ever was a time to collaborate, this is it. Succession planning is about getting others to buy into your vision. Winning a battle over some minor point today may actually put you at a disadvantage. Practice letting go.

Tip 10: Pass Your Legacy Forward

At age 45, John D. Rockefeller controlled 90 percent of all oil refineries and pipelines in the United States. In 1911, he lost the government’s Sherman Anti-Trust case against him and Standard Oil. Though he was personally devastated by the loss, breaking Standard Oil into 30 separate companies ultimately led to Rockefeller’s becoming the wealthiest person in the history of the world and opened the door to his late-life philanthropy.

As with Rockefeller, your success has been created primarily by you. When you begin thinking seriously about succession, you will realize that you are creating an agency that will be vibrant even when you are gone. By creating a team and driving a culture that can survive without you, you’ll become ever more valuable to your company today. Your legacy can be the culture and he people you leave behind.

Explore more about Succession Planning.

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David Grau Jr.

Written by David Grau Jr.

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