Spokane Journal of Business

Hubbell Financial Group to add 25 employees, 30 interns

Insurance, investment regional office to add 25 employees this year

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Hubbell Financial Group to add 25 employees, 30 interns
-—Staff photo by Chey Scott
Hubbell Financial Group Inc. Managing Partner Brian Hubbell says 10 of the new financial representatives will work in the company's headquarters on the lower South Hill.

Hubbell Financial Group Inc., the Spokane-based, regional office for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, has started efforts to recruit 25 new financial representatives and 30 interns to meet a growing demand for its products and services in the Inland Northwest.

Brian Hubbell, the agency's managing partner, says those new employees will be spread out between its nine offices, located across Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Of the 25 new financial representatives, he says 10 are planned to be hired at the agency's Spokane headquarters, located at the Marycliff Center, at 705 W. Fifth on Spokane's lower South Hill.

Northwestern Mutual, the big, national, Milwaukee-based insurance and investment-services company, earlier this year announced that it's planning to hire 2,000 new financial representatives and 3,000 financial interns nationwide through 2012.

The company says that decision was prompted partly by the largest growth in new insurance policies that it's seen in nearly 20 years, with the addition of 350,000 new policies in 2011. Also last year, Northwestern Mutual hired more than 2,200 financial representatives across its U.S. agencies.

Hubbell says the need for new financial representatives both here and companywide is being driven largely by an increase in demand for financial security.

"The country has been going through tough times, and in tough times there is a flight to security, so we have had steady growth in our core insurance products and in the investment side," Hubbell says. "We are finding that there is a great need for products, such as long-term care insurance with the aging population, and because of that demand we are building our workforce."

Hubbell says that in the last several years, long-term care insurance has become a larger contributor to the agency's overall mix of insurance products in force.

"It's more a part of the mix because the aging population is realizing a higher percentage chance of needing it," Hubbell says.

He says new long-term care insurance policies consistently have been growing at a double-digit percentage rate in recent years, and that rate is higher than the average annual growth for the agency's other insurance products.

"We expect that to continue to grow rapidly because of the socio-demographics of what's going on in the marketplace," he adds.

Most long-term care insurance policyholders are purchasing that product in their 60s, Hubbell says, but he adds that he's seeing more potential buyers now who are in their 40s and 50s.

"More younger people are looking into it because the price is so respectively affordable" when the policy is held over a longer period of time, he says.

Meanwhile, Northwestern Mutual's life insurance policies remain a steady contributor to the agency's bottom line, Hubbell says. He says it currently has a total of $9.5 billion worth of life insurance policies in force, up from roughly $8 billion in 2008.

"That has always been a very solid and substantial part of what we do, and as the industry has not grown in life insurance ownership, we continue to grow, so we are bucking the industry trend," he says.

The agency here has experienced steady, year-over-year growth for both its insurance and investment products of about 8 percent for the last decade or so, and he anticipates that growth to also occur this year.

Hubbell Financial Group currently manages $750 million in diversified investments, he says.

Hubbell says Northwestern Mutual has served the Spokane area for more than 100 years, and says that he's worked for the full-service financial company here since 1995.

The agency sells Northwestern Mutual's full line of insurance products including life, disability, and long-term care, as well as offering investment and wealth management services, and employee benefits.

The agency's branch offices are located in Coeur d'Alene, Yakima, Tri-Cities, Pullman, Moscow, Lewiston, Walla Walla, and Wenatchee. All of those agency offices and its Spokane headquarters employ a total of about 150 people.

Hubbell says the agency already is halfway to meeting its quota of hiring 25 new financial service representatives this year.

"We are one of four network offices nationally that has hit half of the goal for getting those 25 people, so that is good," he says.

As of early May, he says the agency had added four representatives to its Spokane office, with the remaining new hires joining its offices in Coeur d'Alene, Yakima, and the Tri-Cities.

Hubbell Financial Group's Spokane office currently has 20 financial representatives, including the new hires added this year, and a total staff headcount of 60 people. There are about 10 interns included in that total, Hubbell adds.

"College internships is a really big growth area for us, too, and we are doing a lot more college internships and selecting talent right off the campus, so that is an opportunity for young grads and soon-to-be grads to look at our industry."

Many of the company's newly recruited financial representatives, both here and across the U.S. are professionals who are looking to change careers, Hubbell says.

"We talk to a lot of career changers—people who want to start their own insurance or financial services practice," he says.

Northwestern Mutual agency financial representatives are paid on commission, but also have the option to enroll in employee benefits offered by the company.

Meanwhile, Hubbell says the agency's Coeur d'Alene office, located at 2100 Northwest Boulevard, has experienced significant growth in its staff over the last couple of years.

The office there currently has 10 financial representatives, compared with two such employees about two years ago, Hubbell says. In all, the agency's Coeur d'Alene office employs 15 people, he adds.

"That is fivefold growth over the course of two years, which is phenomenal," Hubbell says.

To accommodate the growth in employees there, Hubbell says the agency recently signed a new lease that will add around 1,000 square feet of space, bringing the office space to a total of 3,000 square feet.

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