New Years Resolution: Earn a Professional Designation
It’s a New Year and time to set goals. One goal I highly recommend is for you to work on a professional designation. I’ve seen lots of posts about this topic online over the years and these four questions seem to be the most common:
- 1) What professional designation should I work towards?
- 2) Why should I take the time and effort to earn one or more?
- 3) Are consumers aware of them and/or does it increase my perceived expertise with consumers?
- 4) Do they help when working with Financial Planners/CPA’s/Attorney’s?
I’ve been the LUTC Chair in my local NAIFA association and I’ve taught several LUTC classes over the years. So these are my thoughts on the subject after being an active agent for 21+ years and associated with the insurance industry for almost 30 years now.
One thing I’ve always preached to new agents is to be a student of the business. Read everything you can & stay up to date. Doing the minimal online CE’s to keep your license up to date by taking the easiest courses offered, does not make you an expert.
1) What Professional Designation should I work towards?
There are more designations these days than one can imagine. Here’s a link to the most complete list I could find: Professional Designations.
Which one is the “best” for you to work towards? First it depends on what type of insurance products you sell. When I was a new Farmers Agent, and then again a new Allstate agent, the designation they recommended was LUTCF. I knew nothing about insurance at the time and it made sense to take good advice, so I signed up for my first class. One thing I loved about the courses was there was practical information that I could apply back at my office to make more sales! Of course, LUTC classes are directed at Life sales but the application of what I learned was applied to P&C sales as well.
My daughter works for a very large independent insurance agency (over 100 employees) and she specializes in commercial insurance. She just earned her CIC designation last year. When I talk to her I am amazed at the depth of knowledge she now has when it comes to assessing risk management.
Talk to your peers and management folks you know. Ask them what they feel is important and/or their personal experience. Instead of taking easy CE courses online, make it a goal to start working on yourself so you can be a better agent.
2) Why should I take the time and effort to earn one or more?
Why? To gain knowledge. Knowledge that will help you grow your agency! Choose a designation that has local classes vs. online, self-study. The reason for this is that you get to meet other agents and make industry contacts in your area. These are invaluable as you work to grow your agency. The instructors are generally highly successful agents themselves and you will learn more from them than your typical college professor. Your network then expands to other, like-minded professionals.
Proper training/knowledge helps you recognize additional sales opportunities and better explain why you do what you do.
Since all agents need continuing education credits anyway, why not take ones that help you earn a professional designation?
3) Are consumers aware of them and/or does it increase my perceived expertise with consumers?
I would say that over 99% of the consumers you deal with have never heard of any of the professional designations. The only one they might have heard of in my opinion, is the CFP, as that organization has put ads in many financial publications over the years. When I ask financial planners about it, many have replied: “I built my successful practice without it and I don’t have the time to waste on it.” At one time I wanted to earn it so I took evening classes at a local university over a year and earned a certificate from them in Financial Planning. I planned on taking the CFP exam but by the time I finished the year long course, Hometown Quotes had taken off and I saw no need to do the additional work to take the exam. Trust me when I say this though….it is perhaps the toughest exam of all the professional designations.
4) Do they help when working with Financial Planners/CPA’s/Attorney’s?
Yes! A professional Designation adds credibility with referral partners like these. How do I know? LUTCF got me in the door back in the early days of my networking and I asked these types of folks what they look for. If you are trying to network with professionals like these, having a CFP, CLU, ChFC, CIC, CPCU, RHU, LUTCF, or whatever designation is best for what you offer, gets your foot in the door to earn referrals. If you want to work with other professionals who can send you high-level business (i.e. good referrals), then you will want to have the proper credentials to earn their respect.
I hope I peaked your interest in getting started on a very rewarding journey towards knowledge. I believe that anything you do as far as gaining knowledge enhances your credibility ten fold over those that do nothing but the bare minimum to stay licensed. You become a student of the business. The skills you learn will help you recognize and take constructive advantage of opportunities you might never have seen otherwise.
Happy New Year. Now go out and get to work!
PS – On Wednesday, January 29th at 10am PST I’ll be hosting our first webinar of the year where I’ll interview a successful independent agent. We’ll be talking about how he uses internet leads and Velocify’s leads-management system to sign more policies and grow his agency, while simplifying the process and saving time. You don’t want to miss this one folks, it’s going to be an exclusive behind the scenes look! Click here to register now.