As you may already know, we've kicked off a series of short videos showcasing recent acquisitions over the last few months, some maybe in the last couple of years. These are agents ready to retire or move on to the next chapter in their lives.
We thought it would be helpful to conduct interviews with them, exploring their current activities and, more importantly, delving into their thought processes as they approached the stage in their careers where they were ready to explore selling their book.
This interview features Diane Phillips, a great agent out of Little Rock, Arkansas. She has a diverse business mix and has been a delight to work with. Her customers have seamlessly transitioned to us, thanks to the excellent job Diane did in taking care of them. I hope you enjoy this interview.
Diane Phillips: All my life, I've kept my foot in the door in the insurance business—agency, company underwriter—but it was all property and casualty. I went to work on a part-time basis at an athletic club called the Hay Center, where I was the activities director. It was around the time when Medicare Advantage plans came out.
Having some insurance background, I found myself helping people get out of trouble because loads of agents were putting them in the wrong plan. This horrified me, considering my many years in the industry—around 45 years, on and off. Realizing the need to understand this new development, I investigated and discovered it was a good thing, but you had to acknowledge that one size doesn't fit all.
So, I got back into the business, initially making calls from home. Eventually, people preferred coming to my house, marking the good old days of face-to-face interactions. I got into the Medicare Advantage business when it came back out around 2006-2007, starting my certification in 2007. Most of my customers are in Little Rock; however, I intentionally kept a few in Northwest Arkansas and surrounding communities to minimize travel.
John Hockaday: How did you come to the place where you thought, "I think I'm ready to be done?" We didn't meet or you didn't reach out to us until April of '23. What brought you to that point?
Diane: The first thing is I turned 80, and the second is, even though it's a small book of business, it was no longer a one-person show. With all the compliance and technology, representing more than one company, it wasn't fun anymore. The main reason was it was time.
John: Can you describe the process we went through, from our initial meeting in April to closing the deal in August?
Diane: I had known about New Horizons for a long time but never reached out. I was pleased with my FMO, conveniently located in North Little Rock. In January, I decided to explore options for transitioning out of the business. After discovering New Horizons through a webinar, I contacted you. The process was seamless. Your team's professionalism and efficiency were commendable. I didn't have to exert much effort—just provide usernames, passwords, and the customer list. Your approach stood out, especially considering that no one else I explored with provided a valuation or a clear plan.
John: When you were doing your research, did anybody else value your book before we did?
Diane: No, nobody else gave me a price or did any valuation. Everyone I talked to wanted the book of business, but we never got down to the details. I just gave them an overview verbally. I was surprised, thinking they might want it, do the work, and put a value on it.
John: Do you recall how many customers you have?
Diane: I don't remember the exact number, but when you've taken 15-17 years to build a book of business, and you have a great relationship with those customers, it takes a lot of time. When a person is ready to be done, having a plan where you can step in, give them the best value, and inherit those customers, trust, and friendship—it's invaluable.
John: We love doing it. We love coming back to talk to you, see what your thoughts are. It's been a pleasure working together with you. Thanks for doing this with us.
Diane: I'm happy, too. See you later. Bye.
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