Selling the Advisory Career

Where Are Today’s Industry Recruits?

Penn Mutual shares its recruitment philosophy and pitches life insurance as the perfect career for millennials

by Jeff Fleischman

Mr. Fleischman is senior vice president and chief marketing & digital officer with Penn Mutual. Visit

Life insurance is a great career option for millennials – they just don’t think of it that way – yet.

Standing at more than 75.4 million strong, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S., according to U.S. Census Bureau data. This diverse generation encompasses individuals between the ages of 18 and 34, meaning while some are just graduating high school, others have been participating in the workforce for many years. However, no matter how far along in their careers, millennials are always on the hunt for a valuable professional opportunity.

Obviously, this generation represents a massive opportunity for the life insurance industry to grow its talent pool. However, life insurance companies cannot simply wait for millennials to come to them; they must proactively cater their marketing efforts to successfully recruit this demographic.

At Penn Mutual, we’ve taken a multi-pronged approach to connect with millennials, including some new ways, and have had considerable success, attracting more than 6,500 millennials over the last three years. Here are a few lessons we learned.

Sponsor a collegiate club sport

In 2015, we partnered with collegiate rugby by becoming the title sponsor of a major rugby championship tournament, the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. Since then, our company became a sponsor of The Rugby Business Network, a not-for-profit organization for senior business leaders with a passion for rugby. This sponsorship has put our brand directly in front of the millennial demographic, and others, and has allowed us to build meaningful relationships through conversations on and off the field.

Go above and beyond at local universities

No matter where your business is located, the nearby universities offer a treasure trove of potential millennial talent. In Philadelphia, we’re lucky to be right down the street from several major universities. Drexel University in West Philadelphia has been a major hot spot for Penn Mutual, as we’ve taken advantage of dozens of speaking opportunities and career fairs throughout the years. In addition, our agencies across the country are teaming up with their local colleges in developing relationships and opportunities to hire millennials.

Working with universities is not a one-off process; it needs time to evolve and develop into a structured program.

Provide mentorship opportunities

Mentorship opportunities can have a profound effect on millennial retention. According to a 2016 Deloitte survey, 68 percent of millennials that intend to stay with their company for more than next five years had a mentor.

For forward-thinking companies, the pairing of less experienced advisers with our more seasoned veterans has increased the likelihood of staying with the company. In 2015, we began tracking the impact of teaming our younger life insurance salespeople with advisers with more experience. The findings were astounding. Not only were teams more productive, but retention skyrocketed. Life production for advisers on teams soared almost 30 percent that year, with overall production rising 16 percent. Three-year retention rates for advisers on teams came in at 73 percent, as opposed to 21 percent for those not on teams.

Showcase the value of a mutual company

ife insurance companies cannot simply wait for millennials to come to them; they must proactively cater their marketing efforts to successfully recruit this demographic

Millennials are an incredibly socially aware and thoughtful generation. They want their own values to align with the ethics and morals of everything they do – they want to work with companies that are solely committed to clients and the communities they serve. Whether it’s a product, investment, or career path, this generation wants to fully believe in it. Similar to many other life insurance companies, Penn Mutual is a mutual company.

Unlike the public companies that must answer to their shareholders, our ownership base is made up entirely of our policyholders. Because of this unique ownership structure, we are able to focus exclusively on what matters most to us, our policyholders. Mutual companies must focus on making the benefits of their ownership structure part of their brand to educate the consumers on this distinction if they want to attract more millennial advisers and associates.

Educate on the benefits of life insurance products

Discussing life insurance isn’t exactly dinner table conversation. The death benefit of the products, combined with the preconceived notion that young people do not need life insurance, has led to a general unfamiliarity with the other benefits it provides. Nevertheless, life insurance occupies a very important place within the financial ecosystem, it’s just a matter of educating this generation about its usage outside of the obvious death benefit and protection for loved ones.

Permanent life insurance policies allow for cash to accumulate, which can be used to pay for a child’s education, supplement a retirement plan, or help with any number of other financial objectives. The cash value of a life insurance policy grows on a tax-deferred basis, which can be advantageous. Not to mention, life insurance products have origins dating back to the 1700s. In fact George Washington, Susan B. Anthony, and Walt Disney are examples of prominent Americans that have benefited from the value of life insurance. These living benefits and the versatility of life insurance can open new ways for millennials to understand how it is an essential part of a financial plan.

Adapting to our times

We certainly recognize changes in the market. Social media is a great example. Social media is a newer way to reach consumers, especially digital native millennials, in ways they are comfortable. This is part of an omni-channel approach that merges traditional and new channels into a seamless experience and engagement model. In a recent survey, our advisers have told us that social media helps drive referrals, appointments, and business. We’ll continue to monitor and adapt as adviser and client demands change.

A multi-pronged, targeted approach

As mentioned before, life insurance has been around since the early 1700s and has benefited countless individuals. In fact, insurance companies pay out more life insurance and annuity benefits to consumers than anyone else except the Social Security Administration, according to the American Council of Life Insurers. Unlike stock based companies that are inherently focused on shareholders, the mutual life insurance business has solidified its place within the financial landscape.

But this fact alone will not bring millennials into your lap. The recruitment of this generation into the life insurance business requires a proactive and multifaceted approach. In our experience, there is no silver bullet that will get the job done on its own. Creating comprehensive approaches has proven to be an effective strategy. Connect with millennials where they spend their time, and convey the information and benefits of a career in life insurance. ◊