Koethen / MZ – On the opening day, Axel Gude already has his hands full. However, it’s not about insurance – instead he can excel as a host: in a good mood he pours champagne, accepts gifts, takes pictures. Because a lot of people came by to congratulate the 36-year-old. After all, he now has his own office – and it has a prime location on Buttermarkt, right in the middle of Köthen’s city center.
While Gude talks between trays filled with cakes and sandwiches about how he got into the profession as an insurance agent, he is repeatedly interrupted. Pat on the shoulder, handshake, hug – “I’ve always had a good time with people,” he says. He is at least sociable – and then it did not give him the big problems to find the new job as an insurance specialist.
A fresh start as an insurance agent was a professional 180 degree turn
Nevertheless, it’s a real 180 degree turn for him. Even though it has dragged on for several years. Because originally he worked as a physiotherapist in a gym in Köthen, says Axel Gude. There he was responsible for the preparation of training plans and introduced the students to the proper use of the equipment. So how did the career shift come about?
The answer was one of the first to appear on the opening day: Stefanie Hennicke. At the time, she was a customer in the gym where he worked, says Gude. Hennicke then worked as an agent for the insurance company Ergo, for which he now sells contracts himself. She asked him if he was actually “retiring”. “Of course I was not,” Gude says with a crooked laugh on his face.
Gude has worked full time as an insurance specialist since 2016
So he did some research – and soon after started selling insurance himself. He started doing it in 2011, he says, initially as a part-time job, while at the same time continuing to work out in the gym. To do this, he first conducted a basic seminar to be trained as a pension specialist. Five years later, he took the next step: Gude reports that he took an apprenticeship as an insurance specialist while working.
At that time, several brokers retired, he says, freeing up their clientele. For him the chance to take over a core of customers and thus fully engage. “I had to think this through thoroughly,” says Axel Gude, but eventually he grasped it.
I really enjoy going through customer directories and figuring out what other services I could offer.
Axel Gude, insurance specialist
I have never regretted this step. “I really enjoy going through customer directories and figuring out what other services I could offer,” the 36-year-old says. That it is now possible to compare insurance policies on the Internet and take out insurance policies without an intermediary does not deter him: “I have noticed that people still need a local contact,” he says.
Nevertheless, “the industry has become very digital” – during the pandemic, he kept in touch with customers mainly by telephone or via video telephony on the Internet. But he prefers personal contact, Gude says, “If my customers are well, I know I’m fine too.”
What do insurance brokers really do?
- Mediator is not the same mediator. There is a very rough distinction between insurance agents and insurance brokers. While representatives sell contracts to clients on behalf of one or more insurance companies, brokers act the other way around: They are commissioned by their clients to find an insurance contract that suits them – regardless of which company offers it.
- According to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, there were 192,789 registered insurance brokers in Germany per. January 1, 2022 despite digital competition. About 73 percent of them were representatives.