Recruitment Versus Marketing

Are They Really That Different?

In Conversation with Nick Hoadley, Managing Director of Insurance Search

By Pierre Morrisseau

This article is comprised of excerpts from an interview that I conducted with Nick Hoadley, Managing Director of Insurance Search, in which we discussed the changing methods of attracting and retaining great talent.

On the “Insurance Search” approach —

PIERRE: People think it’s surprising that we (OneGroup) work with you, all the way in London, for our recruiting. I’ve been impressed with your focus on the candidate and their career, as well as the client and their culture. You are really trying to find a match. What have you learned in that process? 

NICK: Candidates want a job, they want a career where there’s opportunity. Believe it or not, most candidates don’t move for money, only around 20% do. It’s about finding a long-term home for someone matching a candidate with the right personality and values with a company that will really value them as an individual. Finding a home for a candidate who will stay loyal and be there for a long time. We aim for long-term success.


“It’s about being open minded, doing what’s best for the company but also bearing in mind what candidates are looking for now.”


On finding the perfect match —

PIERRE: It is hard for people to know what is out there and what is right for them What are some attributes they really like?

NICK: Once you’ve got the right candidate, it’s all about progression and opportunity. Be very clear with candidates on what success looks like in their role, and what will happen if they achieve that success. Then, they know that there’s a career path for them. We try to really learn what drives a candidate and meet that. The goal is to fulfill their ambitions as much as they are helping you, as a business, to fulfill your ambitions. 

On building a pipeline —

PIERRE: In talent recruitment, we tend to wait until we have a position to fill. In talking with you, we have tried to move our thought process to be more proactive. What is your advice on developing a pipeline of potential talent ahead of time?

NICK: Plan out, as your business grows, what your team will look like. When you do have a candidate, it’s very key to move quickly – don’t wait too long if you know that you want to bring that candidate on. In terms of pipelining, the traditional approach would be networking in the insurance markets, with recruiters, explaining what potential opportunities will be, telling the story of your business, and getting as many people as possible invested with an understanding. When you’re ready, then they will have a good idea of what you’re doing, what your beliefs are and what your values are.

One of the ways that we (Insurance Search) do that is through a podcast (Insurance Coffee House Podcast) that we created with our businesses where they can tell and showcase their stories. Then, we can get ahead of the game and start educating potential talent on the work that that particular client is doing. When they do have roles and speak to them on it, they will already have an understanding of what you do and what the opportunities are rather than going in completely cold.

That’s probably the 21st century way of doing it. Over the years, it’s always been good to network. Go to events, meet people from different companies — not overly selling, but letting people know that you’re growing and there could be opportunities in the future.

On a strategy to fill the experience gap —

PIERRE: Everything in today’s world is moving much faster than even a few years ago. There is a significant amount of in-depth knowledge that has left or is leaving our industry both for us and carriers. Many of us have increased our training and development efforts of young talent but there is going to be a significant lag in the ability to fill the gap. We need the talent inside our agencies and carriers to help mentor that experience in our employees that are new to the industry. Do you have advice for helping recruit that experience? 

NICK:  The talent that you’re looking to bring into the business is almost like a customer (or a client, per-say). If you have a CRM system or an Excel spreadsheet of prospects you’re looking to bring to the business, it’s very similar to when you’re trying to bring talent into the business. You may have a long list and then a shorter list of people that you’ve made contact with.

You can then ask for references from carriers, or potentially from other people in the market. Build and have those contact points like you would with a potential client or customer. Have someone that is responsible for keeping in contact with those people. A lot of businesses are looking to grow. They grow by bringing in new clients and growing out accounts, all through their sales people. If you bring on more, you can grow the business. Look at those sales people as another distribution channel to your potential customers and start treating them like that, as well then there’s potential for some good outcomes. 

PIERRE: So, is it fair to say that in our world of growing the business from a client standpoint, we focus a lot on making the prospect a client before being a client. Would that be a fair analogy? 

NICK: Absolutely. If you just cold call out of the blue you know you’re going to get a certain percentage of those clients. If those clients have had social media, maybe a golf day or referral in front of them, then when you then make that call and speak to the insurance manager, the likelihood of them asking you to look at their insurance coverage is much higher. It’s the same way with candidates. If a candidate has heard a great podcast about you, and if they’ve seen some great media about you, if they understand what you’re doing as a business, then when you come to make that call, the chances of them responding and being interested is way higher. It’s the same prospecting with clients as you would talent. 

PIERRE: Once we (OneGroup) bring a candidate in the door, we really focus on them. That is a huge part of our success. Focusing on them, talking about our business in a very transparent way and letting them ask questions. We treat it more as a relationship-building process as opposed to an interviewing process.

On the “New World” —

PIERRE: COVID has really had a profound effect on a lot of things. That was the very reason I met you. I couldn’t go out, so I had to interact online. The other side of that is isolation – lots of people started to rethink their career, wants, and more. What are some of the things you’ve seen on a macro-basis?

NICK: This won’t be a surprise to your audience, but the vast majority of people in insurance now really want the opportunity to work from home, or certainly have a hybrid model. There’s definitely senior talent out there who are really looking for four to five days a week working remotely, where they can get on with their work but not have a commute into the office. This gives the opportunity for them to build their work career around their lives.

It’s a challenge but there’s a lot of opportunity as well. You can potentially widen your reach in terms of talent and location. If you’re not coming into the office, that really opens up the opportunity to find the best talent. 

I’m also seeing in my own business as well –  there are a lot of candidates who like the idea of being entrepreneurs. Candidates like to have the opportunity to have a stake in the business they’re at, or set up their own business under a franchise or umbrella. This gives them all of the support and team environment that you have at an agency, but ownership and responsibility for it. That’s actually how we’re growing our business at Insurance Search, as well. 

In general, it’s about being open minded, doing what’s best for the company but also bearing in mind what candidates are looking for now. 

PIERRE: We’re talking to a group who just started their own business together, but prior they’ve functioned individually. The concept is “Innovation Coffeehouse,” and it was originally providing concepts of ways to supply the resources to speed up the environment for start-up businesses. Now, they have shifted and are focused on what I call “intrepreneurship,” which is based around taking ideas and building them from the inside of bigger companies. All of the resources a startup would struggle with are not an issue for a bigger company. But, they lack the ability to evaluate, vet, and manage this innovation process. 

What if we gave people a chance to split their time a little bit, rather than just doing one job? They could get their work done but also focus on some more creative or business efforts. That seems like it might be an upcoming trend or interest. 

NICK: Absolutely. And clearly, there’s a lot of markets where that’s worked for a very long time already. Look at the real estate market in the United States.

You see some of what we would call “composite insurance agencies,” or “captive insurance agencies,” that act under an umbrella, but they have their own business. There’s a lot of upside for that particular individual, of doing that within a larger organization. They still keep a lion share, or they might have a share in that particular entity, but with the backing of their company that they work for. If they split their time, they might work 75% on their usual, core role with the business, and then for a certain number of hours a week may work on this innovation or this part of the business under a separate entity. That’s joint ventures with their own employers, rather than having to leave their employment. 

A lot of people think that in order to do their own thing or to be innovative, they have to give up their employment. That’s a real shame if they’re really talented people. In that case, their employer would want to keep them but also, would probably have great confidence in them when they do start their business that they’re now going to want to invest or partner with them on that opportunity. 

So some of these things that you described there, Pierre, are really going to grow and grow. I think it’s very innovative for the employer if they would partner with those people. 

“If the average young person is going to have six to ten careers in their lifetime, why can’t they all be with us? Why can’t they have the mobility inside?”


On mobility within —

PIERRE: We’ve tried to create an interesting culture where we create mobility inside the company. 

So I have a saying, I can’t remember where I got it from – I’m sure I stole it from someone, but if the average young person coming out of school or entering the workforce is going to have six to ten careers in their lifetime, why can’t they all be with us? Why can’t they have the mobility inside? 

We really tried to get rid of this notion that you had to stay inside your department. We want you to explore the other departments. The supervisors that lose a person don’t like that, but the ones gaining them do. We wanted to create a norm of encouraging it.

If you had to pick the number one issue, if you could distill it down, it seems to me that people want a solid career path. Do you think that is the number one most important thing, or is it something else? 

NICK: I’d like to start off by just saying what you discussed earlier about offering people multiple different careers within the same organization, I think that’s fantastic. Traditionally, carriers have been a lot better at doing that than brokers, and people move from claims into underwriting, or underwriting into claims, leadership roles and probably just because their sheer size, they can offer that opportunity. And that’s why you see people at carriers who’ve been there 30, 35 years, or more. 

I think that’s really important. Today’s younger generation coming through now – it’s less about having a stable job. It’s less about having a stable company that you’re working for. It’s more about the progression that you can have as an individual, the skills that you can learn and develop, and the types of companies where you can add the most value. 

People now will move around more. We see that regularly, especially at the junior end. People will move to companies which align to their values, and where they feel that they can add value to that business, but also develop and hone their own skills. At the moment, we’re seeing on average between every two to two and a half years they might move around in different industries. It’s very much a focus on moving somewhere they can develop and where they can hone their skills and add value, rather than potentially having a career at one company where they are very comfortable and very stable. The younger generation certainly don’t appreciate that as much as maybe other generations gone by. 

Pierre Morrisseau
Chief Executive Officer

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