Executive Blog Barrett Bartels
As a way of introduction I guess I’ll start with my background. While I was working my way through college, I needed a way to pay my bills. After a rather lengthy job-search, I started in the insurance business in 2000 as a life insurance agent. Very quickly, I developed a passion for the insurance business and even switched my major to Business-Finance. While I loved the business, I quickly grew tired of hearing the same question over and over: “What other products can you offer?” Many of my clients were interested in Home, Auto, and Business insurance. As I continued to hear this question I realized that to continue in the insurance industry, I really needed to be able to offer more than just life insurance products.
In 2004, I was lucky enough to become one of the first members of the AAI team. I started as a producer in one of the original agencies and quickly grew my book of clients to the point where I was able to start my own agency. As I made this transition, I found a real passion in helping other agents join our team and committed more than a few hours every week to the ‘management’ side of the business. Within a few years, my agency had grown to the point that I was able to commit full-time to helping develop other agencies.
Since 2009, I have worked full-time for AAI in a myriad of roles. I have overseen the development of one of the best tech departments in the industry and now spend a significant amount of time on internal operations.
If I had to offer one tip to an insurance agent who is leaving the captive world to start an independent insurance agency, it would be: “Take your time and find the ‘right’ way to go independent.” While the rare agent may be able to do it on their own, most are going to need to join an organization like AAI. If you’re looking at joining a group, be sure to call agents who are already a part of that group. Get their opinion and compare that with what other agents tell you.