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Bankers Life

Mission: At a bird’s eye view, Bankers Life focuses on the insurance needs of the middle-income retirement market from more than 300 offices across the country.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Employees: 7028
Funding: Public Company - Market Cap $3.13 billion

Company Q&A

Q: Currently, are values a part of indivudal performance reviews?

Q: Are health benefits provided to full time employees?

Q: Is there a retirement savings plan offered to employees?

Q: What kind of vision coverage is provided to full time employees?

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Bankers Life  •
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
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Bankers Life Salaries

30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 10% 20% 30% 40%
Top 25%
$47,200
Average
$41,900
Bottom 25%
$26,600

Testimonials

What employees at Bankers Life think about working there

“Bankers Life pushed me to get out of my comfort zone by talking with lots of people. I learned to build relationships and communicate more effectively, although the high pressure nature of sales meant that this growth was challenging”
“I have enjoyed sales roles at other companies, but struggled during my time at Bankers Life. The tools they provided (the leads I was given had already been called, the paperwork I was required to do was long and tedious, and I was charged for errors).”
“Hard work required. Definitely need to be willing to put your nose to the grindstone to succeed at this company. But, when you hit your targets there are indeed generous payouts”
“I actually made money at Bankers Life, but still left the job because selling to the elderly made me feel uncomfortable. The tactics used often felt like manipulation (i.e. scaring customers).”
“Ultracompetitive culture. Regardless of the work itself, the office felt like individuals weren’t supporting each other. Plus, you need to pay a monthly fee to utilize tools / leads, which makes it feel like management isn’t on your team.”

Bankers Life Glassdoor Themes

Compensation

While I was able to make a living, I had to give up much of my personal life for two years in order to be successful.
Twelve hours of work in a day is not uncommon, and most of these are filled with rejection until you’ve built a solid business and network. At that point, the rejection just becomes daily.

Sales Culture

Every once and a while I would find someone who believed that they needed to buy health insurance from me. Often, I would feel terrible as I didn’t think I could offer these customers the best option, but needed to make it seem like there was no other option.
I wish I had been able to do a job shadow during the training, as I was under the impression that my leads would be warm (they were not).

Management Practices

Once my training ended, I felt like managers were only interested in the top 10% of sales people.
Managers don’t have any reason to help low performers, or to give them quality leads. Maximizing their own salary means people at the bottom get dropped fast.

What sort of training is provided?

“Bankers life asks that employees spend multiple months attending in-person training sessions before they begin working as an insurance agent. As the roles are commission-based, this means that for a long period of time you won’t be able to earn an income, and in fact you’ll be asked to pay for these sessions. While the idea of intensive training is great, charging employees for their own training is very much not-standard.

The techniques discussed in these training sessions have been heavily criticized by the media. Below is a summary of some common items:

From low to high commitment:

A common sales practice encouraged at Bankers Life is to use low-commitment, low-cost initial offers in order to gain access to a individuals home. Once an agent has gained the opportunity to talk with a potential customer in person, they will switch to entirely high-commitment, high-cost options—as these are what make them all of their commission.

This tactic is particularly effective as people feel a high level of responsibility to be polite in person, which means they are much less likely to outright say “no” to an insurance offers you make them.

Appealing to identity:

This sales technique involves describing why “someone like you” is the kind of person who would make this specific purchase. One example of this would be stating that “I know you’re a responsible person who cares about their family Mrs. so-and-so. It only make sense that someone as dependable as yourself would purchase our insurance plan.”

This tactic often involves a heavy amount of flattery, and requires that the insurance broker is able to understand what their client thinks of themself.

Amplifying downside:

Unlike other techniques, which are generally relevant in every sales position, amplifying downside is particularly common in the insurance industry. When amplifying downside, insurance brokers will often tell a story about the future which would emphasize the high negative costs, both to the client and their family, of not purchasing insurance.

One example of this could be “now Mr. so-and-so, I understand that right now you’re in great health, but could you imagine what kind of impact it would have on your daughter if you fell, broken a bone, and were hospitalized? Would she be able to pay for an in-home caregiver for you? Maybe, but it might cost your granddaughter her college tuition.” This approach to selling is commonly criticized across life and medical insurance industries.

Creating a high-urgency situation:

Have you ever had a sales person threaten to walk out on you? How often do you get emails about discounts that expire that same day? Creating false urgency is an incredibly effective way to close deals and motivate buyers, and the same holds true in insurance.

Once a Bankers Life insurance specialist has started to share what plans and programs they have available, they’ll often be told that their client “needs to think on it” or “needs to talk with their family first.” To overcome this objection, one might suggest that there’s a deal expiring today, and that if they don’t act now they will miss out. Sadly, this tactic often leaves purchase with a feeling of buyers remorse.”

What benefits do you have at bankers life?

“If you hit your commission quotas, you’ll have access to a small 401K contribution and health care contributions. No vision or dental, and you have to cover your own travel expenses.”

What is bankers life like, in three sentences?

“High pressure, high competition, high upside (and downside). You have freedom to set your own hours, but the converse of this is that you’re on your own when it comes to producing results.”

What is the office environment like?

“You often spend a lot of time on the road. If you want to be present in the office, you’ll need to pay a fee. Door knocking meant sometimes doing business in places there were uncomfortable.”

What sort of experience have Bankers Life customers had?

“My mom had purchased a longer term healthcare policy from bankers life, but is struggling to get them to pay out the amount we require now that she is ill.

For more than two months now, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure Bankers Life has all the documents they need from us. Again and again, after I have mailed in documents, when I call them to ask what the next step is, they tell us the documents were not received.

First, we tried using a fax machine. Because I do not own a fax myself, my Mother got her doctor to fax in the documents (four times).

After this “didn’t work” (so they say) they asked us to send them the documents via their webpage. Again, our physician tried multiple times, but received the same reply—apparently none of these had worked.

Our doctor finally called in, and re-uploaded documents, but Bankers Life told our nurse that they had received our forms, except one page was missing. There’s no way this could have happened—it was uploaded in the same moment as the others.

Regardless, our nurse re-uploaded the final form. Two days later, I called in only to be told they had none of our documents. I’m exhausted, and furious that this company is lying to us. I cannot see any reason they would be doing this, other than to delay paying out on my Mom’s policy.

For context, my mother has late stage dementia, and a broken hip, which requires that she be placed in an elder care home that has high-skill support workers. This is exactly the situation that we can purchased insurance for. I am struggling to afford this support without her policy, and worry that if we don’t receive funds soon, we’ll need to move her to a place that is more affordable, but isn’t able to provide all of the support she requires.

Based on my conversations with my mom’s GP, I’m not alone in this. They have shared similar stories from other clients who worked with Bankers Life in the past. In particular, the “repeatedly lost document” situation is quite common.”

What is management like at Bankers Life?

Different people will look for different things in a manager. Some reviews on Bankers Life state that they were “micromanaged” by their manager, while others say they “wish they received more support.” This likely varies by manager, and also by employee performance.

What sort of career progression is available?

Some small number of employees will advance in to sales management every year. It can be challenging to make this a reality when you are located in a territory where the leads don’t convert as well. Note that if you leave in less than 2 years, there are sometimes fees associated.

What skills do you need to work at Bankers Life?

For insurance agents, you have to be comfortable cold calling, door knocking, and selling. You’ll spend a huge number of hours talking to people, and persuading them to purchase insurance. The skills required by recruiters are similar; you have to get good at connecting with and motivating others.

What is a day in the life of a Bankers Life insurance agent like?

“Most insurance agents will break their days in to two parts: prospecting and house visits. The prospecting process involves making a large number of cold calls. Typically, Bankers Life insurance managers will pay a monthly fee to access a list of leads that the company maintains.

Once you have these leads, you’ll be responsible for calling each, with the goal of booking an in-person conversation. A high performing sales person can make anywhere from 150 to 300 calls a day, pending on the length of the conversations they’re having, and how many connects they get.

As these insurance sales roles are entirely commission based, you’ll want to work your hardest to fill your pipeline for your “demo” days. These other three days will involve you driving around to make in-person visits to the clients you’ve booked. It’s important to note that Bankers Life won’t cover the cost of gas, so you’re want to be careful in how you plan your routes.

In-person visits will typically start with you taking time to get to know your client. What is their health like? What are their hobbies? What family do they have? What does your client care about? A lot of selling is building a relationship, so you’ll want to spend time doing this up front. From here, you’ll walk through a number of the tactics mentioned about to try and encourage your client to make a purchase.

If you have some down-time during the days where you’re travelling, it’s likely a good idea to go door-knocking at nearby homes. Here, you’ll be challenge to quickly prove your value and garner interest, in hopes that a potential insurance buyer will invite you inside.

When you do close deals, you’ll be prompted to complete the associated administrative work in order to adequately document this. This is particularly important as your progression towards your sales targets has a large impact on what resources are available to you in the company. For example, some employees have shared that the best leads always go to the best sales people, as Bankers Life doesn’t want to risk a high-opportunity customer on a lower performing insurance professional.”

About Bankers Life

Bankers Life is an insurance company focused on customers within the US. The company is made up of over 5,000 insurance agents. Their primary customer is individuals who are nearing retirement and an annual income around $50,000.

Reviews from past Bankers Life employees are quite divided on whether the job was valuable in their career. Some cite that the potential to earn money based on commission meant they were able to earn more than at other similar companies.

However, many others felt that working without a base salary limited their financial security. Some share that the long hours of cold calls were exhausting, and others state that management wasn’t as supportive as they could have been. Read on for more insights into the culture, perks, and employment opportunities at Bankers Life.

Values and Beliefs

The Bankers Life insurance company has four core values that they actively seek out in their employees and executive team.

The first is integrity. Trust is crucial when it comes to life and health insurance. In the case that a loved one falls ill, you don’t want to be unsure about whether you’ll be able to access the funds you need.

The remaining three are customer focus, excellence, and teamwork. Looking at a more granular level, Bankers Life Insurance and Casualty appears to prioritize different values for each of the three main career tracks they provide. For insurance agents, they emphasize a competitive salary entirely based on your performance. On top of this, support is a high priority, especially as many incoming team members don’t have previous insurance or sales experience.

For the sales management career track, teamwork is crucial, as your success is measured in terms of how your team performs. On top of this, entrepreneurialism is highly prioritized, as individuals need to own the operations for their entire unit.

The values for corporate track individuals echo those of the whole company. Integrity here means what is said is reflected in daily activities. Customer focus means meeting customer needs and delivering a product that lives up to their expectations.

Excellence means maintaining both a high velocity of output, and a high quality of work. And finally teamwork means encouraging individuals to take ownership for their collective, rather than just thinking about their individual outputs.

Interview Questions

Why do you want a career selling insurance?

Answering this question well has a few key components. First, what skills do you have that you’re planning to apply as an insurance broker? Are you charismatic? Do you love building relationships? Are you competitive? You can tell your interview this, given an example of why, and describe to them why this will make you successful in your career.

Beyond this consider describing the impact you hope to have on your potential clients; how will insurance improve their lives? Communicating that you understand a companies mission, and are excited to help further it will come across well in your interview.

Finally, consider articulating the sort of impact you want to have on the business itself. How will you contribute to Bankers Life as a whole? How do you hope to contribute to the lives of other employees? Emphasizing how you help to add value to others is a clear way to getting management excited for your candidacy.

What sort of sales experience do you have?

Almost everything in life involves some amount of sales, so don’t fret if you haven’t worked a sales job before! A little bit of reflection and you’ll certainly be able to find an example of a time where you: built relationships with other people, built consensus in a team, or persuaded someone to accept your opinion.

In general, if you can find a time where you found a win win solution, or helped another person recognize a solution to a problem they didn’t know they had, you have an excellent answer to this question. Be sure to highlight the specific outcomes. Quantifying results makes your story seem credible, and helps to ensure that your interviewer recognizes the magnitude of your accomplishment.

Are you okay working with seniors?

It’s always best to be entirely honest in interviews. This helps avoid situations where your values and those of your employers might clash. If you aren’t confident you would be comfortable selling to the elderly, I would voice this to your interviewer.

Remember, you’re interviewing Bankers Life just as much as they’re interviewing you. With this in mind, it’s also absolutely okay to ask for further clarification. Do we sell to young people as well? Are any of the people we’re selling to ill, or in challenging financial situations?

Getting further context might help you to understand the exact jobs that will be asked of you. It also sets you up with clear boundaries for when you enter a role, something too-few new hires do in a proactive way.

History

Bankers life was first incorporated in Chicago, during 1879, under the original name “Hotel Men's Mutual Benefit Association.” The company operated on a modest scale until John D. MacArthur took over in 1935.

Prior to the acquisition, MacArthur had rigorously studied how mass-marketing services and goods had allowed specific brands to acquire monopolies. Up until then, he had noticed that insurance was largely a product for the incredibly wealth, a result of the high up-front cost associated with the plans.

After the acquisition, John went to work rapidly cutting the cost of the offering such that he could effectively sell Bankers Life to middle class Americans. To this day, Bankers Life predominantly sells to these individuals, with average client incomes ranging from $50,000 to $70,000 annually.

In order to facilitate this drop in cost, MacArthur needed to cut the cost associated with selling his insurance. Today, his practices have evolved in to an organization that trains thousands of new employees a year. While expertise in training is definitely an asset, high employee churn can make for unique challenges with a corporation's employee culture.

By 1956, Bankers Life was one of the largest individual health and accident insurers in the United States. The company continued to operate along this trajectory until 1956, when President Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law.

Medicare provided limited medicare insurance to elderly Americans. At this point, Bankers Life pivoted to focus on selling extension services to seniors seeking coverage beyond medicare. Today, the company maintains the same focus, selling multiple plans which extend to expenses Medicare doesn’t cover, such as hospital and medical care co-insurance, in-patient care, ambulance services, physician's services, and outpatient support.

Some of the companies other offerings include life insurance, annuities, extended term healthcare insurance, and supplemental health coverage.