The exclusive 2009 Insurance Journal Young Agents Survey asked independent agents under 40 years old what they liked the most and the least about being an independent agent. Here's what some of the 692 agents who took the survey had to say:

The 49 Things I Like the Most Are:

  1. Working with clients and helping them to secure their insurance needs. Providing training and development of people. Friendships developed over the years.

  2. My relations with clients and colleagues. The security of the industry (people need insurance).

  3. It is not the same thing every day. I enjoy a challenge. I am also very honored to be able to work in the field of agriculture.

  4. I love interacting with my clients and being there for them when times are tough.

  5. Getting to help the people.

  6. More to see than at the company level. Working one-on-one with the clients to help them. Form many positive business relationships with clients.

  7. The freedom it provides and ability to work hard to determine your own income.

  8. The amount of time I have with my family and the flexibility of the business.

  9. Diversity of the field and constant change.

  10. Taking care of the people.

  11. I can make really good money and I control my schedule for the most part.

  12. I like the fact that I am always networking and meeting new people as well as learning about all types of business.

  13. Ability to make your own income. Helping others protect their business assets. Like working with business owners and independent agents. Like the real world application of the products we provide.

  14. The freedom to work my own hours and the fact that income ceiling is only controlled by how much effort I put.

  15. Control your destiny.

  16. The flexibility to work with many different carriers.

  17. The social aspect. I enjoy talking to people and helping them get things done.

  18. Different challenge everyday!

  19. Relationships, freedom.

  20. Opportunity for increased income.

  21. Freedom to use a variety of companies.

  22. I enjoy writing an account where there is a mutual feeling of respect and willingness of the client to provide information.

  23. Flexible schedule and unlimited income potential.

  24. Flexible work schedule and the ability to help people understand a piece of their life that is so important.

  25. Freedom. Meeting local business owners and developing relationships with them and leaders in the community.

  26. The ability to write any risk on the planet and not having a home office dictate my life and income level.

  27. Own hours, unlimited income potential, exposure to all different types of industries.

  28. The pay, the excitement of learning everyday and the outstanding benefit of getting to meet and interact with my various clients around the country.

  29. The freedom to try new things.

  30. The one-on-one customer relations. I love being able to interact with people.

  31. Freedom of choice.

  32. Freedom to work when and how you would like to.

  33. I enjoy having the ability to direct my own work-flow while helping people protect themselves.

  34. Building relationships and educating clients.

  35. Networking. Challenges of each account.

  36. The clients.

  37. Helping companies lower premiums and broaden coverages.

  38. The relationships that are developed with my clients.

  39. The challenges I face everyday. With insurance no two policies are alike, the job is never monotonous. I enjoy taking on the difficult risks that no one else wants to bother with.

  40. Flexibility.

  41. The ability to be able to help clients and others truly understand what they have, or are buying. The industry is caught up in pricing, rather than needs assessment.

  42. I like the variety - every day there is something different and it doesn't ever seem to get boring. I deal with a variety of people, coverages and issues everyday and it keeps me on my toes.

  43. I have learned that knowledge is my absolute best-selling feature and do everything I can to learn insurance coverages and be able and willing to give many, many examples. I like being an expert and a teacher.

  44. The industry is constantly changing. I can come to work every day and learn something new. There is always a new claim or coverage question that I may have to research which only helps me in learning more.

  45. The freedom to write business with various companies that fit my clients' needs.

  46. Income and scheduling freedom.

  47. The hunt and the people you meet along the way.

  48. I like being independent from captive agencies, and having the ability to shop for the customer. I like that I can realize my own dreams, and the self-direction that I can take.

  49. Flexibility of job and hours.

The 49 Things I Like the Least Are:

  1. Lack of growth opportunities within a company. Being told there are and coming to the reality there isn't. Not being able to achieve compensation goals due to lack of support.

  2. My current income, the regulation, the redundancy of products and explaining it.

  3. PAPER WORK and re-quoting. The redundancy in the quoting to completion on the agency management system is very frustrating to me.

  4. I want to be able to earn a decent compensation for the work that I do. I hate the companies and their overall attitude toward agents.

  5. The many changes of coverages. So much knowledge is required.

  6. Industry cycles make it hard to explain the pricing of our product ... certainly isn't based on loss ratios and fundamentals right now! (or when it becomes ridiculously hard either!)

  7. If we had stable pricing, we might get a little credibility with the business community over the long stretch!

  8. Public perception - while we're actually one of the last lines of defense for individuals' and companies' ability to continue operating, we're too often perceived as being one half step above used car salesmen.

  9. Hearing the same complaints day in and day out about an insured's policy.

  10. Cold calls and the negative connotation associated with the job.

  11. What I like the least is that the industry has very little avenues to become an owner. It seems that you have to bring a book of business with you in order to become an owner. Most of the contracts I've seen don't allow for your book of business to be portable if you change agencies down the road thus locking you into your current office or start over.

  12. CE credits? I mean, seriously, with all the search functions, not one of us is actually learning the material. We all know that day-to-day sales and service is the best learning tool.

  13. The public opinion of insurance in general. Most see it as a necessary evil, and even agents appear they do not like to provide a service or sell. The dumbing down of rates and chasing premium dollars that many carriers and agents participate in, which only hurts our industry and devalues the services of an agent. Also produces inadequate premium dollars and inconsistency in rates from year-to-year (or broker to broker), which adds to the public's conception (or misconception) of the insurance industry and coverage.

  14. The perception.

  15. Margins are too small.

  16. Cold calling and trying to get in the door of a prospect. I enjoy the quoting and proposing, just not the cold calling.

  17. There are many ups and downs. I tend to have really great days or really bad days. Few normal days!

  18. Different challenge everyday!

  19. Large national agencies.

  20. The hours.

  21. Fierce competition and underhanded competitors. Agents with low ethical standards give the good guys and gals a bad name.

  22. Having online companies trash us.

  23. I hate that over half the accounts that I try to quote are mis-classified and written in a market where I could not place a similar risk. The prospect is still looking to save money even considering that they are already paying bottom dollar premium due to the agent/market's misclassification of the risk.

  24. Working on commission only basis (Makes it very difficult to start out!)

  25. It is so competitive and very difficult to attract the new customer. It seems there is an insurance agent or two on every corner.

  26. The perception the general public has of insurance and insurance agents.

  27. The lack of radio/television marketing by the so-called independent agency carriers (Hartford, Safeco, etc.). Mercury does a great job and is truly an independent agency carrier. The rest sell out and frankly I can't blame them ... Travelers has some ads on TV once in a while.

  28. Telling people I sell insurance for a living.

  29. Lack of public knowledge of companies.

  30. No huge name brands, especially in the Florida property market.

  31. I'm not a young agent at 39 years old but I am highly energetic and find the largest problem in our industry to be the good old boy mentality of dominance, power and control.

  32. The unethical treatment towards a client that portrays a negative image on the profession.

  33. Keeping up to date with changing codes and regulations.

  34. Not having my own agency.

  35. Quality of training.

  36. Satisfying production goals in a soft market.

  37. The uncertainty of our industry's future. Volatility and competition, as well as always having to sell more and more and more. Never seems to be enough for management.

  38. Not every company is as technologically advanced as they probably should be. Still too many companies dealing with paper files and antiquated filing systems.

  39. The paperwork.

  40. The politics involved and BIG agencies that bully the little ones around.

  41. The thing I like the least is feeling like we do work for our clients or work for the companies and then that goes unrecognized. For instance, you think a company is working with you as a partner and then you see something about them now selling direct. This makes me question the stability of the agency model and the future as an independent agent - are we the next travel agents?

  42. I least like the lower commissions from major carriers while their upper corporate board members willingly appear to be over paid. This gives the general public the impression that the agent on the street is as over paid.

  43. Collecting premium in the unusual event that someone is slow to pay.

  44. Stress and lack of aggressive IT investments by some carriers.

  45. Carrier underwriting.

  46. The hours of hard work, late nights and early starts.

  47. People's initial reaction when I say I am an insurance agent.

  48. The technology could be much improved ... especially in today's economy; we could be doing things more efficiently.

  49. Being compared to a car salesman.