The findings of the 2018 Future One Agency Universe Study were released this week, and the state of the independent agency system remains strong and healthy!
The number of independent agencies in the U.S. stands at 36,500—a slight decline since 2016 which is likely attributable to a robust mergers & acquisitions landscape and the use of a more accurate resource to validate the data for 2018.
Overall, 76% of agencies reported increases in total revenues with an average increase of 25%. The 2018 results suggest that agencies are embracing social media and digital marketing strategies, but still consider phone calls and client visits a vital part of their commitment to customer service.
When it comes to what agencies are most concerned about, their top challenge is finding and retaining qualified staff, followed closely by finding ways to grow their commercial lines book of business.
One-third of agencies are concerned about consumers using direct purchase options for personal lines, while a quarter are concerned about the emergence of online commercial lines purchase options.
Paperless offices increased in both personal and commercial lines agencies by nearly 15%, as did use of texting with clients and agency e-signature initiatives, which both increased by nearly 10%.
The lack of diversity in independent agencies continues in 2018, with ongoing underrepresentation of women and people of color in agency principal positions. However, newer agencies saw an increase in African-American ownership, up nearly 10% since 2016.
The 2018 Future One Agency Universe Study is available for purchase in both a summary and full report format. Contact Madelyn Flannagan, vice president of agent development, research and education, with any questions.