Guardian Life plans to hire 840 financial representatives to sell products like life insurance this year. It isn’t necessarily looking for people with sales experience.
The New York mutual insurer, which has hired 683 reps so far this year, believes relationship-building skills are as important as sales skills.
“Candidates don’t always need a sales background, just a proven history of relationship building,” said Emily Viner, vice president of agency management and leadership development for Guardian Life. “We look for history of success, a strong work ethic and great people skills,” said Viner, who credits the company’s extensive training program for its ability to cultivate sales talent.
One of the top producers at Guardian had a commercial real estate background, while another was a professional musician, Viner said. Guardian has recruited candidates with backgrounds in accounting, legal and other professional services, she said.
The company is also focusing hiring on women to better reflect the communities in which the firm works. Women accounted for roughly 150 of this year’s hires. The firm anticipates that at least 28% of its 2013 hires will be women.
The career provides work/life balance, which is often a priority for women with families, Viner said.
Guardian offers a full training program, office space and access to the company’s suite of financial products, but the role is 100% commission based. Financial reps work off of a draw, a hybrid between a loan and a fixed salary where they receive wages every pay period that are deducted from future commissions.
It’s more stable than a completely commission-based pay structure, but with any draw your financial success depends on your own performance.
Guardian’s four-year retention rate is 33%, well above the industry average of just 11%, said Viner. Of the 683 total financial rep hires this year, 123 of them have been net adds.