Retention rates frozen

By Alain Thériault | June 21 2012 02:26PM

For three years, the retention rate of career agent recruits has been treading water. The four-year retention rate remains at 30%, and annual turnover is 16%

The LIMRA study on retention focuses on the 2011 results for the career network. It computes the Canadian career agent sales force at 12,885 professionals. Numbers range from 35 agents to 3380 at the largest company.

The study indicates that succession problems in the Canadian life insurance industry will not be resolved any time soon. The 10 participating insurers say they recruited 2571 agents last year. The snag: they lost 2436. Net result – 135 agents more than in 2010.

Over half of the agents who terminated in 2011 had two years of service or less in the industry. LIMRA includes in this figure agents who chose to resign, were fired or promoted to another position at the same company.

All the same, the industry managed to retain 85% of newcomers in 2011. This parameter has also been static. Recruitment thus seems to be losing steam. In 2011, recruits made up 20% of the total sales force, a steady decline from the 21% observed in 2010 and 24% in 2009.

An industry yardstick, the four-year retention rate remains low at agencies, at slightly less than one third. However, agents who reach the magic five-year threshold in practice tend to stay on board. Their retention rate is 93%. The survey finds that 59% of the agents have been working at their company for at least five years.

Broken down by gender, the LIMRA results show that the four-year retention rate is lower for females, at 29%, versus 34% for males. The one-year turnover rate is higher, at 17%, compared with 13% for men. Nonetheless, women's one-year retention rate is higher than that of their male counterparts, at 89% and 87% respectively.

Experience promotes retention. Those with experience who joined the career network had a four-year retention rate of 45%. The corresponding rate is 29% for inexperienced agents.