In years past, wholesale brokers specialized in one thing: placing difficult risk. Many wholesalers would take any risk scenario that came their way, and try to find a market for it. These days, however, the industry is trending toward specialization. Should you specialize? Here are a few questions to answer first.
Are you already established as a generalist? If you’re already an established wholesale broker with a strong business placing risks as a generalist, you may not need to specialize just yet. Developing specialized expertise—and a marketing strategy centered around promoting that expertise—takes time away from other business activities that could be making you money now. Consider how much investment you’d have to put into specializing, and how established you already are as a generalist.
Are your agents asking for specialized expertise? Are the agents who come to you asking for specialized expertise in particular? Do they seem to expect specialization? If so, what lines of coverage seem to be of most interest? Pay attention to what your target audience wants, and that should help guide you in choosing a field to specialize in if it’s appropriate for your business.
Are your competitors specializing? Take a look at your major competitors’ websites. Are they showcasing specialized knowledge in a certain type of coverage? You may want to pay attention to what they’re not specializing in as well—and see if agents are asking for targeted expertise in an area of coverage your competitors aren’t highlighting. This represents a valuable market opportunity.
Can you afford to hire a specialist? You may not have the time to develop a specialization yourself—but if agents seem to want it and your competitors are already moving in that direction, it could serve your business well to hire a broker with specialized expertise in an in-demand line of coverage.
While it’s true that more and more wholesale brokers are showcasing specializations, it’s also true that generalists still continue to do very well in this industry. When making the decision to specialize, consider what your agents want, what you see the competition doing, and what you can afford in terms of investment of time and money. Perhaps the best position possible is to combine specialized expertise with a generalist’s broad understanding of markets and challenges in placing difficult risks, and to offer your agents both.