How would you describe brokerage hiring trends over the pastfive years?

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In a word: troubling. At least according to Kevin Stipe,president of Reagan Consulting, whose firm in a new study looked atindustry hiring data over the last several years.

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The study found that independent insurance brokers have beenstruggling to hire new employees, posting a 56 percent success ratein broker hiring.

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"In light of the fact that our industry is aging and that nearlyhalf of a typical agency's business is handled by producers age 50or over, this is alarming," Stipe said. "Is the industry facing aperpetuation crisis?"

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Only 35 percent of brokers were hired from outside the insuranceindustry (including from college), the research found.

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Especially troubling, Reagan Consulting noted, 55 percent to 60percent of firms are "under-hiring," meaning they are not hiringenough new brokers to achieve their growth objectives or allow themto successfully perpetuate their business. Worsening things more,the firm said, is the fact that "free agents," who move from agencyto agency, "were by far the largest category of producer hires,"accounting for 55 percent of new hires over the past fiveyears.

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Still, a wide discrepancy was found in the trends: the top 25percent of firms had a hiring success rate of 84 percent comparedto a 22 percent success rate for the bottom 25 percent offirms.

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For its survey, the firm gathered baseline data from 4,641brokers from 562 firms and conducted a follow-up survey with 112firms that hired 1,505 new employees over the past five years.

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Reagan Consulting's findings mirror other concerning findingsabout the broker business from Aflac's Report for Brokers, releasedearlier this year. Aflac found that about half of brokers saidthey're considering leaving the broker biz and 67 percent ofbrokers say they've seen many of their peers exit the industry inthe past year.

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"Due to uncertainty about the evolving health care landscape,brokers found themselves at a crossroads of either redefining theirrole in the industry or exiting it entirely," Aflac said inJune.

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