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Your Continuing Education Is Important

January 9, 2018
Continuing Education - Aartrijk

Make It Count

By Kevin Amrhein

“Yes, I’m sure there’ve been changes to the tax code over the years that I’ve ignored. And yes, I’m certain there are new strategies to reduce errors that I never bothered to learn. But hey, don’t sweat it. I’ve been at this a long time and I know what I’m doing.”

Does this sound like your CPA?

I know, stupid question. After all, why on earth would you, or anyone else, trust this person with something as important as accurate tax preparation?

Now is probably the right time to divulge that I’m in the insurance continuing education (CE) business. And I’m of the belief that an uninformed insurance agent is equally as harmful to his client as an uninformed CPA.

Being in the insurance CE business provides me a unique perspective of agents and how they prioritize their professional education. It’s true that some folks are eager to learn and will relentlessly devour every educational opportunity that comes along whether or not it earns a few hours of CE credit. I can tell you with certainty those folks are the exception.

The truth is that insurance professionals (contrary to the occasional punchline) are human beings, and human beings are creatures of routine. And, as we all know, interrupting the routine of a human being is a crime against humanity.

CE is disruptive by nature.

Policies and rules change. Risks evolve. Technology and distribution improve. Learning is an essential service for an agent, and CE is the perfect opportunity. Learning is an E&O deterrent. Learning is a competitive advantage. These should be reasons for interest.

Yet for many agents, when a CE deadline comes along, the reaction is an urgency to complete required hours as quickly and cheaply as possible. Habit-lovers desire whatever produces the least disruptive path back to the warm and snuggy comfort of that precious routine.  

This reaction is a disservice to your constituency.

It’s true that not all CE providers are created equal.  Some are, quite frankly, no darn good at all — complicit in the moral hazard of hasty “education.” You may not find the good ones in the quick-is-king, corner-cutting, cheapest-of-all aisle, but there are plenty out there. I know many of them. And they are fiercely protective of this industry and the quality of those who serve it. They show patience for ignorance but intolerance for those who attempt to justify their unwillingness to learn.

So here’s my advice:

  1. Make the decision to no longer view CE as a disruptor to your routine.
  2. Select only courses that interest you. It’s amazing how many folks tell me that the hours — not the topic — are their priority.)
  3. Ask peers for recommendations on providers and instructors.  
  4. Don’t forgo an opportunity to take an interesting course simply because you don’t need more CE hours or because the topic won’t provide you with CE credit.
  5. Remember that as a consumer, you expect — even demand — that your service professionals take their education seriously and that it’s always relevant to your current need. Now give yourself some credit, and know that the importance of your role in your client’s life means they will expect — even demand — the same of you.

Please tell us what’s the next course in your own continuing education?

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