As in the natural world, thereare a multitude of approaches brokers can take to ensure survivaland success—although the evolution is taking place at a far fasterclip. (Image: Shutterstock)

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When most of us hear the word “evolution,” we think of theclassic image showing a transition from ape to modern Homo sapiens,often depicted in five or six rough caricatures—you know the one.While this picture has become ubiquitous with the idea of adaptation, the reality, of course, is muchmore subtle and complicated.

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BenefitsPRO editor-in-chief PaulWilson
reflects on broker adaptability.

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Maybe the most famous example of the more understated reality isthe group of finches scattered across the Galapagos Islands thathelped initiate Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection andhave since become a classic example of adaptive radiation. In theroughly two million years since their common ancestor arrived onthe islands, the finches have evolved into 15 recognized separatespecies, varying in body size, beak shape, song and feedingbehavior. Changes in the size and form of their beaks have allowedthe different species to specialize in various food sources,including insects, seeds, nectar from cactus flowers and even bloodfrom iguanas, depending on their island.

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Related: 4 ways brokers can win in the midst of historicchange and disruption

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I am fascinated by how, to quote Jeff Goldblum, “life, uh, findsa way.” (I highly recommend “The Beak of the Finch” by JonathanWeiner, “Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shubin and Richard Dawkins' “TheGreatest Show on Earth.”) In fact, this drive for survival in theface of all odds is one of the things I find most compelling aboutour industry, as well.

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Browse the November digital issue.

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As in the natural world, there are a multitude of approachesbrokers can take to ensure survival and success—although theevolution is taking place at a far faster clip. Some advisors, likeDarwin's finches, opt for specialization, focusing on niches asvarious as industry, product, location or client size. Others optfor a more generalist approach. For example, in this month'sfeature, “A House United?” Dave Evans of IndependentInsurance Agents and Brokers of America says he's seeing a growingnumber of agencies “that are either very good at a niche market, orthey have really leveraged a holistic approach between the P&Cand the benefits world.”

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And there's a similar division occurring even within thebenefits space. Whether your focus is broad or narrow—and let's behonest, there's a huge spectrum in between—you'll want to check outthis month's cover story, which spotlights a number of “breakaway brokers” who either specialize in acertain market (region, industry, or type of care), or focus on“comprehensive health insurance coverage for their clientele.”

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Yes, it's survival of the fittest, but there's a whole lot ofopportunity out there. What are you going to do about it?

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Read more about the next evolution ofbrokers:

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.