Before you embark on a journey towards becoming an insurance-sector Appointed Representative, or AR as it is known, you should really assess whether you have the skills required to make this new career choice – one in the world of self-employment – work for you.
Whilst setting up your own insurance brokerage and becoming your own boss, with your own business and hours of work, is an attractive proposition, life may not be as rosy, if it does not suit your skill set.
Here are five skills an Appointed Representative needs.
1. Sales Ability
Above all, you need to have insurance sales talent. You will most likely have been, or currently be, an insurance account executive, earning strong levels of commission for your employer, be that a big brand name in the insurance industry, or a regional or local broker. Sales will be the thing that gives you your buzz in your career. Every time you seal a deal, you will feel job satisfaction and have a smile on your face.
This may seem a strange thing to say, having already talked about you probably being a top-performing insurance account executive and ace-ing it as a sales king or queen, but things could change in your own brokerage. You may currently be a great salesperson when leads are handed to you on a plate, thanks to your employer’s lead generation systems. In your own business, however, you may need to get out there and find those leads for yourself and that could entail doing that thing with which some people just do not feel comfortable – cold-calling. You may, on the other hand, be confident on the phone, but hate networking – another thing you will probably have to do, to make your own business a success. And, you may well need to get your face out into the press, on to your website and on social media. Are you camera shy? You’d need to get over that.
Whilst starting a business as an Appointed Representative is far easier than having to go it alone and be isolated, with no support whatsoever, you still need to be resilient. Make no mistake, it will be hard work and you will have to have the ability to stay positive and determined and get through your first 18 months with a lot of knocks and hits to your expectations along the way. All new business owners will tell you this. Whilst you will have a broker team behind you, you will need to find the risks to broke. You will also have to watch some of your income dissipate in the early months, as you are unlikely to generate enough sales instantly to match your previous levels of income. But if you are resilient and work hard, the sky could be the limit.
4. Listening Skills
Insurance account executives tend to be great talkers but are not always as good when it comes to listening. When you become an insurance Appointed Representative, it is vital that you listen. If you do not listen and take on board instructions, you are unlikely to comply fully with systems that are geared towards allowing your AR principal to deliver required FCA compliance.
If you do not listen to your Gauntlet AR broker, on the other hand, you will miss out on an opportunity to learn from someone who has mentored others in your position and can see the bigger picture. If you do not listen in general, you will allow opportunities to acquire knowledge to slip through your fingers and just one useful snippet could have a big positive impact on your business. Make sure you are, or can become, a good listener and then implementor of the knowledge you pick up.
5. Attention to Detail
This is key. If you want to have your commission paid without hiccups, you need to provide the right details. If you need your AR broker to find quotes for you in the market, you need to furnish them with all the details they need, from the off. Fail to fill in forms accurately and you will simply cause delays that could lose you business. Whilst you will have an administrative team behind you, you are the font of all initial information in many ways and your back-office team do not have a crystal ball. Get it right first time and you will help your new insurance business to fly.
There are many other skills required of those who build successful insurance brokerages, but as you embark on life as the owner of an insurance start-up business, the five described will stand you in very good stead. Some, of course, you can work on and hone. Just be prepared to do that as, when you start your own insurance business, they go with the territory.