For the Accenture 2014 Independent Agent Survey, we surveyed more than 1,100 independent agents (IAs) in the United States. With an estimated 30–40 percent of IAs belonging to an association, alliance or cluster, we wanted to understand their objectives for membership.

Evolving the independent agent channel - perceived advantages to joining peer organizations and associations
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Our study found that IAs’ principal goals are primarily to enhance access to carriers and increase commissions. Membership in these groups gives IAs greater power to negotiate with carriers than they’d have on their own, and this is more important to them than support in operational areas such as marketing, agency management systems (AMS), IT and 24/7 call centers.

Since IAs are not looking for additional operational capabilities from these memberships, nor from their carriers (see part 5 of this series), a legitimate question arises as to how these mostly small businesses will fill the capabilities gap in order to compete in the future.

We see an opportunity for an industry utility to fill the gap, by offering a set of core operational capabilities (such as agency management systems, CRM, digital marketing, etc.). In other industries, such as retail wealth management, such solutions have proven successful. In the IA context, a platform offering an integrated set of capabilities would greatly reduce the complexity for the agent and help drive greater benefits.

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