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Ask the Experts: Biggest Challenges Facing Brokers in 2021

Monday, January 4, 2021
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2020 brought with it enormous challenges, and 2021 will likely be no different. But we’ve certainly learned a lot along the way. From continuing to navigate the ongoing pandemic to meeting clients’ growing digital expectations, insurance brokers and agents will need to re-evaluate the way they sell and service their book of business in order to succeed in 2021 and beyond.

With that in mind, we asked the experts to weigh in on two major questions:

  • “Based on your conversations and work with clients, what do you think their number one business challenge will be in 2021? What strategies do you recommend to help them overcome that challenge?”
  • “How has the pandemic positively impacted the insurance industry? Do you think the positive impacts will endure?”

Here’s what they had to say.

Creating the Right Team is Essential

According to Kelly Donahue-Piro, president and co-founder of Agency Performance Partners & Agency Appeal, the biggest challenge facing brokers and agents in 2021 is recruiting the right employees and making sure everyone is properly trained.Kelly Donahue Piro 1Scott Smith, president of TRUE Network Advisors, echoed Kelly’s sentiments saying that the biggest challenge facing independent insurance agencies in 2021 will be recruiting top talent, navigating the work-from-home dynamic and achieving robust organic growth.Scott Smith

To address this, Smith says you need to know your team members better than ever. Doing so will allow you to implement a very intentional strategy that supports and strengthens your unique organization. Consistency in these efforts will be vital to success.

Don’t Forget to Focus on Pipeline Development

Brent Kelly, VP of Sitkins Group, believes the biggest challenge facing insurance brokers in 2021 will be time spent selling. Kelly sees this as the number one metric of behavior success that is often overlooked or ignored. Time spent selling includes not only selling time, but also pipeline development and relationship management.Brent KellySmith also emphasized the importance of thorough planning in 2021. “With so many distractions, many independent agencies neglect to have detailed organic growth plans,” he added, “The first step towards ensuring robust organic growth is to not only have said detailed plans, but also engage with peers, coaches or someone else to provide accountability.”

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

When asked about the positive impact the pandemic has had on the insurance industry, the experts noted the more rapid adoption of technology and process optimization.

“The pandemic pushed the need for technology and adoption of technology. Where agents used to fight texting, video calls and even e-signatures, COVID-19 forced the need and agents realized how much easier their lives could be,” said Donahue-Piro.

Brent Kelly echoed these thoughts, adding, “I think for many agencies, the pandemic challenged them to assess current strategies and behaviors and gain better clarity on their future direction. I also think that more proactive and intentional communication from leadership and between sales and service teams occurred in 2020 that I hope will continue into 2021. It’s important that teams understand that we have the same common goal—to retain and obtain ideal clients, but we have specific roles.”

Looking Ahead

From recruiting and onboarding the right candidates to pipeline development and relationship management, the one theme that emerged is the necessity to embrace change and be willing to modify your approach in the face of uncertainty.

Brokers and agents will need to continue to be agile and look for more ways to streamline and optimize their business operations if they want to drive growth and thrive in 2021 and beyond.


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