Mentoring: Help others and yourself

By Steven Hammer

If you are not part of a mentoring relationship, you are not reaching your absolute potential in this business. According to the "Journal of Social Psychology," “New employees who are paired with a mentor are twice as likely to remain in their job than those who do not receive mentorship.”

A seasoned advisor will benefit from a renewed perspective of the business and sense of purpose as they guide the younger agent through it. And, the younger person will experience a boost in confidence with the backing of a senior advisor. In most cases, both the aspirant and mentor will experience an increase in production as a result of the commitment. Mentoring is truly a win-win situation for all involved.

Because I’ve been in the business for some time, I had confidence in my ability to mentor when I first began doing so. The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Mentoring Program is one example of a program that can provide the ideal foundation to create and build such a relationship, as it’s a great platform to give back and is focused on helping aspiring advisors grow their skill set. Mentoring through this program provides counseling, guidance and encouragement to an aspirant from a committed MDRT member, helping bring the aspirant to MDRT-level productivity and membership.

There are many opportunities for both sides in a mentoring arrangement. It could just be the ability to do joint work together or an opportunity for the young person to grow their market. There is certainly a chance for increased productivity, and even the possibility of a succession plan with the experienced agent’s book of business. In fact, I know several agents looking to wind down their careers who would love to find successors. A mentoring relationship can absolutely facilitate this.

I’ve found my own mentoring relationships quite rewarding. The first agent I mentored already ranked in the top half of his agency when we started, but during the first full year of our partnership he was able to qualify for MDRT. And, he was agent of the year not only for his individual agency, but for his entire company in Minnesota. In fact, he was a featured speaker at the MDRT Annual Meeting during the mentoring session that year.

Another aspirant I assisted contacted me directly and requested that we work together, having seen the success of the aforementioned agent. In his first year, he was named agent of the month five times, and we more than doubled his production. The general agent of both these gentlemen reached out to me to inquire how I was able to help them reach such achievements, because it was something he was never able to do. When there is mutual respect and a distinct chemistry in the mentoring relationship, things can really begin to happen.
I met with both of these agents on Friday mornings (as many as our schedules would permit), first separately and then we began meeting together. During these meetings, I’d try to have something for them to think about, something to ponder, something to take action on. I would also hold them accountable to the goals they had set for themselves. And we’d take time to review their week, tweak their processes, and evaluate what was working and what wasn’t.

One of the aspirants found that using Monday to set up for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then taking Friday either as a work day or a recreational day worked best for him in terms of productivity. As a senior agent, I was able to lead them in the right direction by lending my past experiences to accelerate their success. The other aspirant needed some assistance with his confidence and the importance of what he was doing.

Mentoring does not necessarily have a guide or blueprint but rather, can be built to accommodate any mentor-aspirant relationship.

What young agents may not realize is that there are a lot more seasoned agents open to being mentors. It may be intimidating to reach out to someone you assume is too busy and is already successful, but the reality is that many experienced advisors are more than happy to be that person, and will find the experience equally rewarding. As an aspirant seeking a mentor, you just have to take that leap. You won’t regret it.

Steven L. Hammer, CLU, ChFC, is a 20-year MDRT member with four Court of the Table and one Top of the Table honors. He is President of Hammer and Associates, in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He specializes in developing quality retirement programs for regional business owners and their employees, and assisting business leaders with investment and business succession strategies. You may reach Hammer at Securities offered through ValMark Securities, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through ValMark Advisers, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Hammer & Associates is a separate entity from ValMark Securities, Inc.