WIN Magazine - Spring 2013 - (Page 37)

FEATURE BLESSING IN DISGUISE: THE INDUSTRY’S BRAIN DRAIN Why “Vintage” Workers Are Creating a New Economic Solution for the Wholesale Insurance Industry BY SHARON EMEK T HE BABY-BOOMER GENERATION is reinventing America again. Besides going down in history as the most productive and wealthiest generation of all time, they are now redefining retirement. Boomers have taken new approaches to the big social, economic, family, political, and business issues of the past 60 years. By sheer power of determination and creativity, they’ve changed nearly every aspect of life and American culture since they first started emerging from the womb in 1946. Boomers are now also reinventing retirement. They are the lead generation that will benefit from greater longevity. One of eight Americans is 65 years or older today and by 2030, one of five will be. The research on this generation shows they will continue to work, but differently. They can’t let go of being productive; they are “segueing” instead of “retiring.” For many years we’ve heard the demographic forecasts predicting a massive retirement wave from the American workforce by boomers starting in 2010. I listened for years to the insurance industry’s fear of the looming brain drain; its fears of losing institutional knowledge and the work ethic of boomers; and its fears of trying to fill numerous jobs with inexperienced workers as 10,000 boomers retire each day in America. With zero growth in the younger generations and fewer young professionals coming into our industry, there is a legitimate concern that a dearth of experienced, knowledgeable talent, caused by boomer retirement, will create a serious staffing problem. Big problems, right? No! Being an “honorary” boomer (I’m two months shy on the high end) and a partner in an insurance brokerage facing this problem, it suddenly hit me on my way to the office four years ago: The brain drain of boomers retiring from the insurance industry could actually be an economic opportunity for the insurance industry, rather than just an obstacle. I realized that four key elements were in place—a perfect storm in a positive sense—to transform the insurance workforce: 1) Boomers want to “sort of” retire (what is called “phased retirement”) when the time comes. They want to continue to work, be productive and make money, but they want to do it differently. They want to do it all while having better life-work balance, less stress, more flexibility and less commuting. They are tech-savvy, healthier than their predecessors, and industrious. This probably describes most of you reading this article. 2) Insurance firms will have a greater need for the skills, expertise and experience of veteran industry employees as boomers leave the traditional workforce. 3) Staff is the highest cost for insurance firms, and they need to find more creative ways to lower that fixed cost by turning some of it into variable cost. 4) The continuing revolution of technology and virtual work (especially telecommuting) makes it possible for workers to contribute their capabilities on a remote basis. The ability to work securely remotely with IP phone technology enables working from home just as if you were in an office. From that epiphany came a new concept: Work At Home Vintage Employees. The concept is straightforward: • Match “retiring” vintage technologically-savvy insurance professionals who work from home with insurance firms who need their skills—a sort of a “” for talented remote vintage workers and insurance firms. • Outsource these vintage workers on a contract basis to insurance firms around the country to work remotely via computer and phone. In the process, insurance firms gain the economic advantages of reduced costs of contract remote work, reducing payroll/benefit costs, hiring and training, real estate, and technology expenses. “Retired” employees gain continued work and greater life-work balance. It’s a wonderful win-win for everyone. I see the industry’s brain drain as a blessing in disguise. Our industry’s new retirees will be the new “WAHVE” of workers—WAHVES (that’s what we call them). WAHVE (Work At Home Vintage Employees) launched in 2010 with a dollar and a dream. It continues today. We’ve applied this business W I N | S p r i n g 2 0 13 | 3 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of WIN Magazine - Spring 2013

Cover Story: Eliminating the "Fear Factor;" VoIP Communications for Disaster Recovery & Security
How Did We Underwrite Before the Internet?
Have You Ever Felt Like You're in the Software Business Instead of the Insurance Business?
The MGA Community at the Crossroads
When Sandy Became a Superstorm but not a Hurricane: The Effects on Deductibles
Howto Succeed in Program Business
Your Hidden Sales Force: 5 Steps to Developing "Super" Production Underwriters
Blessings in Disguise: Why Vintage Workers are Creating a New Economic Solution for the Wholesale Insurance Industry
In the WIN-ners Circle: An Interview with Todd Bateson
Index to Advertisers/

WIN Magazine - Spring 2013