Page 22 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
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  “It’s not just us putting together
a portfolio — it’s how do you spend your money? How do you make it last? How do you leave money to your kids? And it’s a lot more personal. I don’t get upset about
the market going upanddownona day-to-day basis because I’m not trading stocks.”
MAY 13, 2024
different factors, ranging from the higher cost of doing business in a far more technology-driven field to retir- ing Baby Boomers looking for an exit strategy.
“It just became too difficult for small, independent businesses to survive given the amount of technology needs required to run an agency these days,” she said. “Human resources has changed so dramatically; you almost can’t run a business without having a human- resources expert to turn to. A lot of this has driven many of these smaller agencies to decide that this is the time to sell.
“What used to be your neighborhood agency is now likely owned by a much larger entity,” Johnson added, referring to a trend that covers not only insurance
but many any business groups as well, from banks to accounting firms to law firms.
Meanwhile, another trend impacting almost every sector — challenges with finding and retaining talent — is also prevalent in this field, she said, using under- statement when saying, “young people are not turned on by insurance.”
This has led to ever-greater amounts of automation and use of AI, she said, adding that these trends will only accelerate in the years and decades to come.
Money Never Sleeps
Flashing back to when he started in financial ser- vices nearly 40 years ago, Mike Matty, president of St. Germain Investment Management (which is celebrat- ing its own milestone: 100 years), started by talking about technology and how it has profoundly changed this business and financial services in general.
“I always say that people have more information available to them today, on the internet and on their phone, than I had available to me as a mutual-fund manager back in the ’80s,” he told BusinessWest.
“There wasn’t even CNBC back then,” he added. “If
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living facility contract, to helping family members find bookkeepers or companions for their parents. “All that is not transaction work.”
Barbara Trombley, president of Trombley Associ- ates, agreed, noting that the word advisor has come into popular use only over the past two decades or so.
Years ago, she said, individuals would have called someone who did what she does a stockbroker or even ‘my guy’ — a nod to how few women ventured into this field.
“It’s not just us putting together a portfolio — it’s how do you spend your money? How do you make it last? How do you leave money to your kids? And it’s a lot more personal,” she told BusinessWest. “I don’t get upset about the market going up and down on a day-to- day basis because I’m not trading stocks.”
Much has changed, and the same is true in another branch of the broad financial sector — insurance. Indeed, when Sam Hanmer, president of Rush
Insurance and a nearly 40-year veteran in this field, first started, he used “manuals, microfiche, the fax machine, and a dot-matrix printer,” he recalled. And customers were OK with getting answers to their ques- tions in a few days.
Now, everything is stored in the cloud, and those same customers want this information instantaneously. “The expectation is that they call, and they want the
answer,” he said. “It’s on-time delivery in just about any setting, including insurance.”
Lisa Johnson, chief operating officer of Amherst- based Encharter Insurance, agreed, and said this busi- ness has changed in many other ways as well. Maybe the biggest has been consolidation brought on many

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