How a home office leader became a social media star

Raising the bar for advisors, one YouTube video at time.

How a home office leader became a social media star

Leading a team to meet production targets in a mature market is often a challenge on its own, but when the entire profession is in a developing market that’s still working to establish its reputation, the hurdles are even greater. This is the challenge faced by Tariq Mahmood Sheikh

In a candid exchange, Sheikh highlighted a pervasive issue within Pakistan's insurance industry: a stark lack of awareness.  

“There is a big gap in Pakistan because our penetration ratio is much lower as compared to other countries,” Sheikh said. 

Sheikh, a senior home office leader in a state-run company, oversees a territory containing 3,000 advisors. Helping him manage his large operations are departments devoted to marketing, new business, policyholder services, IT, accounts and auditing, as well as 50 junior leaders.  

Despite his agency’s sizable headcount, raising the reputation of financial services is no small task. The main driver of his country’s low penetration ratio, he said, is a lack of experienced advisors. While he’s encouraged by recently created university programs in risk management and life insurance, Sheikh said it’s up to leaders like himself to do the training required to boost the profession’s respectability nationwide. 

“I regulate everything from meetings to seminars to training to help advisors build a professional setup,” he said.  

Often, achieving his aim of better training for his team requires creative approaches, such as being exceptionally active on YouTube. What began as a pandemic project turned into a prominent channel showcasing more than 450 videos on financial services concepts and techniques. 

It’s important to note the intended audience for these videos: Sheikh shares them as training material for advisors, not prospective clients. His YouTube library covers topics from prospecting to teambuilding, as well as Sheikh’s own career background and the finer points of some financial services products.  

One video he cites as among his most popular explains 18 different ways to recruit new people into financial services. Another video his company singled out as exceptional is about the specifics of personal pension schemes. 

Sheikh hosts these training videos through YouTube, as opposed to an in-house channel, because his company lacks the necessary IT infrastructure to share them internally, he said. The platform allows the thousands of advisors affiliated with his company to easily locate and view relevant topics at a moment’s notice.  

Analytics provided by his YouTube channel reveal that his content is finding an audience, with nearly 170,000 total views and nearly 3,500 subscribers since Sheikh launched the channel.  

Of course, using YouTube for training purposes means advisors from competing companies can watch, too. In fact, contacts at other companies have told him their advisors do just that. But Sheikh doesn’t mind. 

In fact, he hopes the training videos help all companies solve a nagging retention problem that he associates with the marketwide awareness problem. 

“Retention is a big problem in the whole country,” he said. “How can we retain people? The best way is training. There are not good and bad advisors. There are only trained and untrained.” 

Training doesn’t just help keep advisors around longer, he said, it’s also a lever to convince part-time advisors to make the jump to full-time. 

“I think nearly 90% of people first came in the insurance business here as part-timers,” he said. 

Sheikh hopes that better conversion of part-time advisors to full-time team members, improved retention and better business practices will result in his meeting his numerical targets: 4,000 advisors working in his region and 1 billion Pakistani rupees in total annual production. 

To that end, Sheikh is also pursuing a strategy of targeting a specific clientele in and around the city of Sialkot, which is home to several large companies that export sporting goods and surgical instruments.   

“My team will move to the market and then capture the business from the job holders,” Sheikh said. The team will also focus on pursuing high-net-worth clients for larger insurance policies. 

A final way Sheikh is professionalizing his workforce is through aggressive promotion of MDRT. Many of his YouTube videos tout the professional benefits of joining MDRT and warn of approaching deadlines. And he doesn’t limit his MDRT push solely to YouTube. 

“I have prepared a lot of videos, a lot of placards and a lot of very beautiful brochures to introduce MDRT throughout Pakistan,” he said. 

His efforts ensure he’s doing his part to meet the companywide goal of registering 1,000 advisors as MDRT members. 

“I believe MDRT is one of the best trade associations to enhance professionalism in the life insurance business.” 

Contact: Tariq Mahmood Sheikh, 

Tariq Mahmood Sheikh