JOIN NOW
MEMBER LOGIN

HOME

AGENCIES

SPEAKING

OUR STORY

UPDATES & EVENTS

CONTACT US

UPDATES

Recruiting Agency Talent

 

 

Brent Kelly:

Welcome to The Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. As always, the mission, the purpose of the Agent Leader Podcast is to help you, the independent insurance agency leader, to gain clarity, build consistency, and to make a commitment to become your best version possible.

We have launched our "Best Version Possible" experience at Sitkins Group. If you want to learn more about that, and how you can partner with us, we're looking for growth-minded agencies, go to sitkins.com/experience for the "Best Version Possible" experience. I'll tell you, as an agency leader, you are in for a treat. I've got a great guest on this episode of The Agent Leader Podcast. I always want to bring in people that can provide resources, different perspectives, unique perspectives, add value to you, the independent assurance agency leader, and I've got a great guest today.

I've got Art Betancourt, who is the CEO of AEBetancourt, in the great state of Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Art Betancourt:

Right.

Brent Kelly:

I wanted to bring Art in. Art, I'll let you share your backstory a little bit, and what it is that you do specifically at AEBetancourt, to help listeners on this podcast. I got to officially meet Art, we just were talking about that before we started recording, in late March, early April of this year. It seems like it was two months ago, but it was six months ago, as we record this. Time flies. Welcome to the podcast Art, thanks for being a guest.

Art Betancourt:

Thanks Brent, it's a pleasure being here. I'm really honored. You guys provide such great resources to agencies, and have such a great impact on them. I'm just, like I said, honored. It's a pleasure to be here with you today.

Brent Kelly:

Thank you. If you could, I'd love for the audience to hear a little bit about what you do at AEBetancourt, what that means to them as agency leaders. I know it ties into stuff that we talk about all the time, when it comes to people. If you could, just share a little bit about what you do, and why it matters, because it does.

Art Betancourt:

Our focus is really to accelerate organizations by helping them attract, find, select, and hire great talent for their organization. What I'm really passionate about is the impact that employment has on a value for an individual, for our communities, but ultimately, for organizations as well. As a company, our focus is to create that impact on value through helping agencies find great talent. There's a huge need for it out there, and we're happy to be able to jump in, and help out with it.

Brent Kelly:

I'm just thinking now, the last three to four months, whether it has been events that we've hosted, or have been part of, or attended, you go around and talk to people in the room, agency leaders, "What's your biggest challenge?"

"People. Finding talent." I've got the right guy. I know you're going to share some stuff here. We talk all the time on the podcast, and I do, the number one job of an agency leader is to develop your people.

Art Betancourt:

Yes.

Brent Kelly:

Guess what? It starts by having people to develop.

Art Betancourt:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

The right people. I've got a few questions that I would like to ask you. I told you before we started, it's very much like a cup of coffee, or having a cold beverage. I may follow up with some more questions, because I'm always interested. I'm just curious in what you do, and the impact you've had, and what you've seen. I don't want to start on a negative tone, but I will, because I mentioned, the thing that I hear is challenges of talent. What do you see out there, in talking to agencies in particular, of what their biggest challenges are? How are they dealing with some of those things?

Art Betancourt:

The overlying challenges are, there's not enough talent. I would say there's not enough experienced talent, really. Secondarily, we don't have the time or resources to develop our own talent. Even if there's great people out there, we have a need right now. I don't have six months, 12 months, two, three years to train up a producer, and build a book so that they can be on my succession plan for my producer that's getting ready to retire, or my account manager that suddenly quit. I would love the luxury of hiring somebody, and training them for two years to take it over, but I need somebody right now.

Those are the two greatest challenges out there. There are a lot of things that are underlying that, whether that's compensation, we can't find people because of comp. We can't find people because of geography, because of work from home. There are lots of other underlying things within that.

Brent Kelly:

I think you said that really well. The second part really hits me, it's a big part of what we do. We try to help agencies develop talent. You're right, it's one of those, "Can we do it tomorrow? How fast is it going to happen?" That's not the way that works. I talk about there being a talent gap, and there are obviously so many things out there that we hear in the economy, outside of the insurance market for sure. This is just an offset question, and I'm not trying to be funny, or flippant, but is there truly just not enough people, enough talent? What's the real cause in the gap? People ask me all the time, and I don't know that I have a clear answer. What's your perspective on that?

Art Betancourt:

I would certainly say there's not enough experienced talent. Even non-experienced talent, it's out there, but you have to work hard to get it. You have a couple of things going against you. One, in any industry, good talent isn't just falling into people's laps. In our industry, in the insurance industry, there's a misperception of what this career really is. People should be beating the doors to get into this industry, beating the doors down, but there's a misperception on what the opportunity is, and they're not. Not only do you have to convince somebody to leave where they're at, you have to convince them why this is the greatest industry they've never heard of. It's real work to get it done.

Brent Kelly:

I don't know if this is a good analogy or not, but I use it all the time, so let's just keep going with it. I'm a big college sports fan, and I look at programs, it's recruiting. It's such a big part of it. Do you want to win games? The best coaches find the best talent. As you're saying, there are two parts to this. Number one, do they even want to play that sport, being the industry? Number two, if they do want to play that sport, or they're good in the sport, how do I get my message to stand out above all these other people that want that talent too? It's so scarce, and finite. It's interesting, 'cause I'll always find a few agencies that go, "Actually, we're doing great," and this is just the buzzword that's hard to define.

What is it? They've got good culture. How do you establish that? That takes time. I want to put this into a positive light, so to speak, and get solution minded with you a little bit. You said a lack of talent and experienced talent, and not enough of it.

Art Betancourt:

Yeah.

Brent Kelly:

Does that provide some opportunities? If so, what is it? Part of it is a big part what you guys do to help agencies with some of this, to help bridge that. In the talent world, what opportunities do agencies have? What are things agencies could and should be doing?

Art Betancourt:

First of all, you talked about developing talent. If you need it now, it's too late. The number one job of leadership and business, great CEOs saw this. Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, if you read their biographies, or read what they did, their number one initiative is, they went out and found the talent. Not only did they find the talent, they created processes and institutions within the organizations to find talent, and to develop talent as well. First and foremost, I think you have to look out, the opportunity is to look out two or three years down the road, and say, "What does the future look like for us, from our needs? What does the future look like for where we need to grow? What does the future look like for the people that we think are going to retire? Let's add 10% for attrition that we're not expecting." Then say, "How do we develop that talent now?" That's one thing.

The second opportunity with experienced talent is, because there is such a talent gap, and there's so much movement, there is experienced talent that are ready to go to that next level. As people begin to move out, you're able to give them opportunity to move to the next level, or opportunity that they may or may not have had before, to grow into a position. That's one benefit of that talent gap, of people aging out and not enough people getting. There's more opportunity for those people that are in it. Then, the question is, how do we show those people that opportunity at our agency?

There's all kinds of great talent out there that might not be a great fit for where they're at, but might be a good fit for you, for a lot of reasons. It could be because of geography, it could be because one producer's really good at going after $20,000 accounts, but the agency's sweet spot is $5,000 accounts, or vice versa. They're really good at going after $5,000 accounts, but some agencies, their sweet spot is $20,000 accounts. It's really about defining what is right for you, what success looks like for the role, what you want that person to accomplish. We call it performance-based hiring metrics. Then, aligning what you're looking for with those metrics, and finding those people that are right to give that opportunity to.

It takes work. I call it a total talent pipeline. It's passive and active candidates, active and passive search. There's room for job postings, that's a passive search for active candidates. There's room to hire recruiters, which is what we do, that's an active search for active candidates, to even passive candidates. There are referral programs that you can do, if you know an organization. It can't be just one solution, it needs to be multiple solutions that are really guided from the top of the organization down.

Brent Kelly:

Well said Art. I was taking notes there, a couple of things. It goes back to my college sports thing again, but it's interesting. We work a lot with sales teams as well, and with agencies, and there are such similarities. I'm working with a producer, talking to a producer, "Are you always prospecting?" For an agency leader, "Are you always recruiting?"

I think you said it really well. It's interesting, and this isn't to slight any agency out there, it happens, but we know someone's going to be retiring for two or three years, we see it coming, and we're suddenly surprised. "What are we going to do here?" Again, sometimes there are surprises, I get that.

Art Betancourt:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

I get surprised that Christmas happens every year. "It's Christmas again? Do we always have it December 25th? I guess we do have to go shopping." Of course, the development of talent, and I thought it was really interesting, as you said that, finding the fit. Just because it doesn't fit somewhere else doesn't mean it may not fit in your place, or vice versa.

Art Betancourt:

Yeah.

Brent Kelly:

In my college analogy, I think it is really what some great coaches do that run programs in college sports. Maybe they can't compete against some of the biggest names out there, but they develop talent well, people see that, and they go, "I don't know if you're a fit here, but I can see how this is going to fit here, as part of our culture, and what we're doing." Do you agree with that?

Art Betancourt:

Yeah, absolutely, and an actual college sports analogy comes to mind. I'm a big Notre Dame fan, and Notre Dame has one of the top fencing programs in the country. I think that the woman that won gold in fencing at the Olympics this year was actually the only college student, university student that won a gold medal in the Olympics. If you think of a sport that, potentially, there's probably not a lot of people beating down the door to get into, it's misunderstood, it's probably fencing. Notre Dame, and the coaching staff there, they could sit around and go, "This is hard. There's just not enough talent. We're all competing for the same talent."

The way they've built their program is, they go to the gym at Notre Dame, and they look for the people that have the talent that they're looking for, and the personality that they're looking for. They go convince them why they should be in fencing, and they build their team, and train them. They have consistently, men's and women's, the number one fencing program in the country for college. I think that's right on, and I love that analogy by the way, with college sports.

Brent Kelly:

Easy for me, because I like it, I always figured I'd never use it. I've never heard it in that sense of fencing, because that takes it a step further. You find stuff, and again, I don't know fencing, but it's funny, that's part of the advantage. People are like, "Listen, I know you don't know fencing, but I watched you do this, or play this, and you could be great."

Art Betancourt:

Yeah.

Brent Kelly:

You're like, "Teach me." All of a sudden, you find the right fits, 'cause you're seeing things differently. Art, you just said that, the best agencies around this, they're creative thinkers. I always say there's two types of thinking. There's the problem thinking, "We always have a problem," and there's solution thinking. "There's always problems, but what are our solutions? How do we get around this? What would be something we could do that's different, that's unique, that other agencies aren't doing, that we could grasp on and own?" I love that.

One more on that. I talked to an agency a couple of weeks ago, this probably won't surprise you. When you begin to always think about people on your team, you see more people who would fit on your team. You're at a restaurant, and you've got a server, there's something about it. They call you by your first name, and they come back, and they go, "You've got a really good job, I don't know how this is a career. What if we can get you into an amazing career," and be able to coach and train around that. I don't know if you see that sometimes in your world.

Art Betancourt:

Think of it this way: if you're a business owner, an agency owner, you're sitting there, how many cold calls do you get every day?

Brent Kelly:

Yeah.

Art Betancourt:

How many people knock on your door, trying to do business to business sales to you? Sometimes, it's as simple as a conversation. "Hey, tell me something. You're a great salesperson. Do you start from scratch every year?"

"Yeah, my goals change. Everything that I did the year before goes away, and I've got to hustle." The follow-up question is, "Could you imagine, 10 years from now, whatever you sold today, you'd still be getting residual commissions off in 10 years? What do you think that would do to your career, and your income, and your family?" There are so many examples like that, of why being a producer in an insurance industry is great. I could name 10 of them. There is talent all around us, and we've just got to be looking for it.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, that's a great point. It is. I'll just tell you real quick, I started right away at 22 years old, as a Commercial Alliance producer, and I struggled. It's a tough deal out there. I remember even early on in my career, talking to people at networking events, a person that's in real estate, and I'm like, "Every time you sell a house, you just have to go sell another one, right?"

Art Betancourt:

Could you imagine if you got a commission check every time somebody paid a mortgage?

Brent Kelly:

That's what I mean. I was like, "Wait a second, that's it?"

"Yeah, you've just got to out and find more." Outside of the fact that a lot of insurance is required. It's interesting. If you could Art, I wanted to give you time, because you mentioned a little bit about some of the things that you do. If you're an agency, and again, I've got agency leaders that listen to this, and people in the insurance world, and they're looking to work with someone like you. I'd love to know what your perspective is. What are some things that you do for agencies, and agency leaders, to help them in this talent situation?

Art Betancourt:

Maybe if it's okay, I'd like to share just a little bit of my story to lead to that. Maybe I should've opened with this, but I started in this business about 15 or 16 years ago, and joined a well known national consulting firm, and helped build a third party recruiting platform that was really focused on helping agencies hire producers. About seven years ago, I just made some crazy life decisions, and started AEBetancourt. I went back to school, got my MBA at Notre Dame, had a fourth kid. When I looked at, what do I want to build, what do I love? Again, it goes back to that impact. The very first person that I placed, an agency owner came to me and said, "I have a business problem. I want to perpetuate. I need partners, I need to hire great producers."

The very first person I ever hired for that agency, five years later became a partner, and he's still there today. The recruiting model in general, what people typically think of as recruiting, is broke. It's a $150 billion industry with the client satisfaction rate of a cable company. The reason is, the way the fees are structured, it creates incentives for recruiting firms, or recruiters that don't align with the interests of the client or the candidate. I thought, "There's got to be a better way to do this."

That's where we developed what we call recruiting as a service. When we engage with people, we're able to do it in ways that other firms can't or won't do. One of our values is acting as a partner. In our process we are transparent, and what that means is, we actually share a candidate database with our clients. We also show the work that we're doing on a day-to-day basis. We are a dedicated resource, so that if we're doing a search for an agency, we're not doing the same search for another agency in the same market. You know that you're getting the best of us. The best candidates are representing you, and you get a percentage of our time.

We find, through that, we get better, faster outcomes. It typically reduces the cost by about half of what you'd normally pay. We just do it through a simple hourly rate, and we've had a ton of success. This year, we were named an Inc. 5,000 fastest growing company in the United States. We have 32 team members now. We were awarded several awards of excellence by Inc. 5,000, and the local chamber of commerce here, and won best and brightest companies to work for regionally and nationally, the last four years in a row. We've had a lot of success because of that model. We have agency partners in pretty much all 50 states, and hire for any role within an agency. Lots of producers and account managers are the biggest needs right now. We've even grown into other markets, because a lot of our agency partners refer their clients to us, because we've done such a great job for them.

Another thing that we do that's unique, before we actually engage on our search, we go through what we call a perfect fit model. I won't go into the details on that now, 'cause I don't want to take up too much time. Essentially, it's based on the concept that the number one reason why companies have a problem finding and hiring people is a simple concept, that it starts at the beginning. You can't find something if you don't know what you're looking for. Most people start and end with a job description, and a lot of people don't even get that far. Job descriptions are great internal legal documents, but not great documents for finding and hiring people. We've developed our perfect fit process to assist us and agencies, to make sure that we know where we're going to find them, and we know exactly what great talent looks like, so that when we do see them, we can identify that.

Brent Kelly:

Fantastic, thanks for sharing the story. What I love about that, that's the realness, that's why you do what you do. I always think the best entrepreneurs started because there was a problem they want to solve. They see a problem in the world, and they want to be part of this solution, and fix it. I love what you're doing there. I'll tell you, we definitely could talk more about aligning a lot, and how we interact with agencies, and what we're looking for. I love that last part you said there, it's so true. It's really hard to find something if you don't know what you're looking for.

Art Betancourt:

Exactly.

Brent Kelly:

I think that's a big part of just understanding that. Before I get my last question, what's the best way for people to connect with you, or your team? Is it your website, somewhere else they could go?

Art Betancourt:

Our website is AEBetancourt.com. You could probably just type it into Google. If you misspell it, it'll pop up. You can also email me at [email protected], or give me a call on my cell phone, (903) 312-2589.

Brent Kelly:

You're going to have thousands of people calling you.

Art Betancourt:

Awesome. I love it.

Brent Kelly:

I don't know about that. We'll make sure we get the links and stuff in the show notes. All right, are you ready for one last question?

Art Betancourt:

Yeah, absolutely. Let's go.

Brent Kelly:

It's a personal question I ask every guest. It's my favorite question, because I think it provides a lot of great value. I always learn something every time, I'm selfish. Here's my question. If you were having a conversation with the younger version of you, and I don't care how far you want to go back Art, but we could say 20 years ago. You see the younger version of you just starting off in your adult life, so to speak, and they're looking up at you, and they say, "Hey older, more experienced, wiser, better looking Art, what's one piece of advice you'd give me?"

Art Betancourt:

I'd probably say, "Go get it." I developed a core belief of, whatever I'm doing, build it like I'm building it for myself. I would say, start doing that earlier, and believe in yourself, and go build it for yourself if you need to. Go get it, man. Just believe in yourself and go get it.

Brent Kelly:

I love it, simple but effective. I don't want to comment on your one thing too much, but it is interesting how much, for a lot of people, including myself many times, the fear, the doubt, lack of confidence, whatever you want to call it, can hold us back from doing the things that we're destined to go do.

Art Betancourt:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

It's awesome that you took that leap in what you're doing. Art, again, I respect your time. I appreciate you being on the podcast. I know the listeners are going to get great value from you being on it. Any final words, before we depart?

Art Betancourt:

Brent, thanks so much for having me on the podcast. I really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to continuing our relationship, and seeing the impact that you guys are having on so many agencies. If we can help in any way, just keep us in mind. I really appreciate everything.

Brent Kelly:

Thank you so much Art. Thanks for being a listener. If you're getting value from this podcast, please leave a rating and review, I'd much appreciate it. Again, if you want to learn more about how we partner with agencies, to really be an agency growth partner, working with an entire agency, masterminding the training, coaching, go to sitkins.com/experience. Thanks for listening. Take care.

 

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

Helping independent insurance agencies achieve their dreams for over 40 years.

BOOK A CALL

QUICK LINKS

MEMBERSHIP | SPEAKING | BOOK
SALES | SERVICE | LEADERSHIP
AGENT LEADER PODCAST
ASSOCIATIONS | CARRIERS
CONTACT US

CONTACT

5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd
Suite 107
Fort Myers, FL 33907
239.337.2555 | 877.SIT.KINS