Jeff Farmer is VP and national sales director of life, disability and Select Benefits for Symetra’s benefits division. Farmer’s career spans over 29 years in the insurance industry. Before joining Symetra six years ago, he spent 12 years on the insurance carrier side in various sales and management positions, followed by 11 years in consulting/brokerage management. He earned his degree from Boston College where he studied communications and English.
Get to know Jeff:
What do you like most about working for Symetra?
The dedication to Value, Transparency and Sustainability, “VTS,” throughout Symetra, and the entire team’s genuine desire to deliver a quality service experience.
What's been the biggest change in the industry you've seen in your career?
The speed of information. Everybody wants answers NOW! When I started in the business we didn’t even have a fax machine, much less email. Business was conducted in person or via snail mail. Of course, there are positive and negative impacts of technology—we are more efficient, but we risk losing the personal connection with the customer if we are not vigilant about nurturing those relationships.
What's the most important quality in an insurer?
Trustworthiness. My team talks often about maintaining our trusted advisor role. It’s important that our customers view us as a partner, not a vendor.
What’s the most important thing you've learned in your career?
Admit mistakes quickly, apologize, learn and make things right. An initial mistake rarely sinks you, but ignoring the mistake in the hopes that it will go away always comes back to bite you.
What is your team doing to help Symetra “eliminate the noise?”
My team focuses on providing quality customer service for the broker and for the client. We attempt to provide plan designs and value-added services that allow for seamless transitions and minimal disruption. When an issue does pop up, we pride ourselves on quick resolution and full transparency.
Do you have a personal quote we can feature or any last thoughts to share?
“Work hard and be nice.”
- First job: Agent services representative (customer service for career agents) at John Hancock in Boston.
- He takes his coffee: With cream. When in Seattle, LOTS of cream!
- Hidden talents: Absolutely none, sadly! I like to think I just haven’t discovered them yet.
- Favorite book:
• “The Golf Omnibus,” by English humorist P.G. Wodehouse—check it out even if you don’t like golf!
• “Straight Man,” by Richard Russo—a modern classic, and very funny midlife crisis tale
- Pets: Always! Current residents are Jack (Jack Russell/rat terrier mix) and Buddy (miniature schnauzer).