In a joint effort to increase the number of diverse professionals in the role of insurance wholesaler, 15 leading financial services firms along with several leading industry resource groups have teamed up to create the Coalition for Equity in Wholesaling (the Coalition).
The Coalition’s initial focus is on the Black community, which will inform its work and serve as a blueprint as it scales a repeatable model that will ultimately be used to benefit all diverse communities.
Initial members of the Coalition, founded by Equitable, a leading financial services organization, include: AIG, The Association for Wholesaling Diversity, Brighthouse Financial, CeriFi, CUNA Mutual Group, Eagle Life Insurance Company, Equitable, Finseca, Global Atlantic Financial Group, Guardian, Insured Retirement Institute, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Kaplan, LIMRA, Lincoln Financial Group, NAIFA, Nationwide, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, Securian Financial, The American College for Financial Services, and Zahn Associates.
“Our industry has long been committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, we see that there is still progress to be made to build a workforce that reflects the makeup of our country and that provides the benefits of a career in financial services to all,” said Nick Lane, President of Equitable. “We believe it is critically important to bring our industry together to support the work of our Black colleagues, expand our existing networks and educate college students and young professionals about wholesaling as an attractive career if we are to successfully increase the diversity of our own company and our industry at large.”
A wholesaler works on behalf of a financial services company to build relationships and sell insurance and investment products and services to fellow financial professionals — insurance agents, investment advisory committees, or financial advisors. These professionals then bring appropriate strategies to their clients. Success is grounded in the partnerships built by understanding the needs of customers and their clients when recommending suitable strategies.
The Coalition will benefit from the knowledge of several resource partners, including the Association for Wholesaling Diversity (AWD), which has facilitated hiring, development, retention and career advancement for Black wholesalers across the financial services industry since 2016.
“AWD works tirelessly to educate Black students and professionals about choosing financial services wholesaling as a career, plus our members, all of the industry’s Black wholesalers, network, mentor, coach and support each other via this community we’ve built,” said Marlōn Hall, Founder/President of the Association for Wholesaling Diversity. “This partnership naturally scales these efforts up, while providing a roadmap for the Coalition’s broader attraction, retention and networking efforts.”
As the Coalition’s first initiative, it has partnered with AWD to develop and offer a tuition-free Wholesaler Development Program (WDP). The program is intended to inform students about financial services wholesaling and equip them with the tools they need to become best-qualified candidates for those opportunities. The first group of students participated in the inaugural program in 2021, and the Coalition plans to significantly expand the number of participants by spring of 2022.
“We are excited to begin this effort by deeply focusing and rapidly accelerating our efforts within the Black community with the hope that we can create a repeatable model, which will ultimately be used to benefit all diverse communities,” Lane continued. “The Coalition will be able to achieve this by expanding beyond its initial focus on the Black community and inaugural Wholesaler Development Program class to build a lasting blueprint for continued elevation of diverse talent in the financial services industry.”
The Coalition has also commissioned original research to be conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), a Coalition resource group, that will serve as a benchmark to measure the current makeup of the wholesaling workforce, including the current number of Black wholesalers. The research, expected to be completed in early 2022 and available by the spring, will inform the Coalition’s measurable outcomes and next steps to achieve them.
“This important project will allow the Coalition and member organizations to measure progress on desired outcomes when completed early next year,” said Wayne Chopus, President and CEO, IRI. “We look forward to working with the Coalition on its initial focus to engage the Black community in the wholesaling profession, which aligns with IRI’s ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and which can become a model to address other diverse communities.”
According to McKinsey & Company’s “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters” research, top quartile performers in ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed in terms of profitability. However, it also showed that even diverse companies still face challenges in ensuring that employees feel included, remain and thrive. This underscores the need to support recruitment with support and networking opportunities which the Coalition will develop and help member firms to activate within their own companies.
The Coalition aims to increase knowledge of wholesaling as a rewarding career path and help diverse professionals network and advance in their careers. Members commit to fulfilling the Coalition’s mission of increasing the ranks of diverse wholesalers by fostering awareness and providing education and networking opportunities to attract talent into wholesaling, retain that talent through advancement and create networking opportunities for current and prospective wholesalers. The lessons learned by the Coalition in its early work will then be applied to help increase opportunities in the profession for all underrepresented groups.
More information about the Coalition for Equity in Wholesaling can be found at equityinwholesaling.com.