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Powerhouses Join Forces

Uniquely qualified to support P&C Agencies Emerge, Transition, and Transform into IA Distribution 

From the beginning in January 2017, First Choice Agents Alliance (FCAA) has sought to provide more to their members than just access to carriers, with the potential for increased revenue. They realized that many agents, especially ones making a transition from the world of exclusives, or captive agency models, would need much more in the way of support to successfully transition to being an independent agent.

With the decision of Nationwide Insurance to completely exit their exclusive agent model by July of 2020, more than 2,000 agents were left pondering their decision on whether or not to enter the independent agency (IA) space. An immediate need arose to provide members with additional support in the way of technology, education, producer development programs, analytics, coaching, strategic annual planning, and more to help them grow and thrive as an independent agent.

With this in mind, FCAA, led by Mike Griffin, a Nationwide Hall of Fame agent, and Diane Wagner, COO, began to build a team of industry professionals with a goal of providing solutions and access for those needs. Initially seeking out some of the best and brightest agents of the Nationwide exclusives for support, they set out to establish a network of their peers to support these initiatives.

About the same time, in July 2018, MarshBerry suggested that by 2023 an estimated 85% of the independent agency distribution would be affiliated with agency partnerships. Four years later, given the pace of consolidation and the continued profitability stress on exclusive and captive Agency models, MarshBerry believes this estimate is still plausible.

Fast forward to August 2022, FCAA and MarshBerry’s Platform (another leading Agency Partnership) merged to become FirstChoice, a MarshBerry company. This combined powerhouse provides agents of any size access to the resources, thought leadership, and carrier support few enterprises can offer, along with strategies to be relevant and flourish as IA. “We are here to help agents and brokers who want to remain fiercely independent and that are strongly focused on healthy, organic growth.” offered David Soforenko, MarshBerry EVP.

“Since its inception, FCAA was uniquely qualified to help exclusive agents successfully transition and thrive in the independent distribution system. We were very selective in our membership process and will continue to be as the FirstChoice solutions advance.” said Keith Captain, FirstChoice President. “The shared belief that it’s FirstChoice’s responsibility to provide these same firms relevance, by way of enhanced profit-sharing and bonus compensation that drives behavior all the way down to the desk level of an agency. Exclusive agents need to understand that the game has changed, and they need someone to help them make the transition successfully if they expect to survive and thrive in the IA distribution system.” Said Captain. Mike Griffin, FirstChoice Chairman added “We have a mantra that ‘sleepy agents and brokers need not apply’. Carriers lament too often that agencies enter aggregation hoping to get paid more for doing less. This is simply not a healthy environment for a carrier partner.”

Scott Mudger, FirstChoice SVP shared “We literally meet with every member in the fourth quarter to do strategic planning with them. This does not just involve goal-setting with individual carriers. It also involves how they plan to build their business and increase sales velocity and specialization that both personal and commercial insurance agents find highly desirable. Now with access to MarshBerry products and services and their thought leadership, we expect this process to be greatly enhanced.”

FCAA’s legacy and deep commitment to delivering value to its members and partners is central to the business model. FCAA successfully created a community where its members proudly and openly share their ideas through their affiliation with FCAA. This resonated with MarshBerry. Few agency partnerships have this ingredient which makes the combined FirstChoice offering so unique and compelling. Now with the support of an organization like MarshBerry, both emerging agents and exclusive agents preparing for their future can quickly recognize the value proposition that FirstChoice offers their firm both today and throughout its life cycle. “We believe what MarshBerry now offers through FirstChoice, is an ecosystem prepared to help aspiring agencies of all sizes attain higher levels of success than they likely could have arrived at by working alone.”

This article originally distributed by Rough Notes Magazine.

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