Financial History Issue 116 (Winter 2016) - Page 29

Estate, a sales template that focused agents and prospective policyholders on estate planning. Another major improvement occurred during the presidency of James A. McLain (1940-1956), whose standalone middle initial “A” allegedly stood for affable. The first Guardian president not of German ancestry, McLain in 1946 introduced a system of field representatives. These Guardian employees focused on sales but were paid salaries and merit bonuses instead of traditional commissions. The field representative system fit well with Guardian’s Graph Estate template and its overall philosophy of selling prospects the products they needed, and only the products they needed, not big commission policies likely to lapse within a few years. Over the next several decades, the field representative system grew slowly but surely, and field reps finally outGermania changed its name to Guardian during World numbered full-time commissioned War I to distance itself from a negative association with Germany, such as depicted in this Army recruitment poster. agents in the early 1980s. By the end of the century, field representatives outnumbered agents at Guardian on a general agency system whereby it five to one. essentially outsourced the acquisition and McLain’s most important reform, howmaintenance of most of its business to ever, may have been the 1948 establishment outside companies called general agents of the FAB, a group of GAs that met several (GAs) compensated largely by commistimes a year to tell the home office what it sions. The GAs, in turn, hired agents was doing wrong. It played a role similar who personally interacted with prospects, to that of activist stockholders in publiclyapplicants and policyholders. traded companies by repeatedly forcing Most early agents sold insurance only home office executives to innovate in the part-time a