Author Topic: Ethically, should I quit my job?  (Read 4052 times)

Future Lazy

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Ethically, should I quit my job?
« on: April 27, 2017, 12:27:36 PM »
Hello All,

I took a new job last fall as an insurance producer for a one-man agency. The agency owner really liked how smart I was, and was impressed by my money management skills, credit management skills, and ability to plan ahead well enough to secure buying a house at age 24, when most 24 year olds are still living at home and probably being whiny babies about it. He asked me about my compensation at my current job, which was very good for having a no college education level skillset, and offered me better to win me over.

My initial pay was $15 per hour, and after a probationary period, I negotiated a raise to $19 per hour in lieu of benefits like a 401k or health insurance. I use the term "negotiated" loosely, as I expected a counter offer, and didn't get one. They were just like, "Sure!", and actually gave me $0.69 per hour more than I asked for, because rounding up to $19 is easier (I guess?). This was just one of the first signs that my new boss had jumped both feet first into hiring me without knowing what hiring and management really demands. I quickly realized that my boss was only making about $50,000/year from his agency (10% of about $750,000 of premium paid in, minus 10% of $250,000 in claims paid out), was paying me about $39,000 per year, and only being reimbursed approximately $9000 per year by his parent insurance carrier for my salary. In other words, my boss is only taking about $20,000 per year home with him to feed his kid. He's actually in the process of downsizing by selling his house, which will probably be good in the long run, but... Dang.

This job has a lot more sales-oriented aspects than I am comfortable with, since I am pretty seriously biased towards not convincing people to spend money they don't have on things they really don't need... So, between the poor sustainability of my salary and being asked to do work that I downright dread, I have been thinking about quitting for a while. However, today, I opened a bill from our ISP showing a balance severely past due, with notice of disconnection - a clear sign my boss isn't able to pay his bills.

I'm afraid that staying on is buying into my boss' sunk cost fallacy, and I should submit my two weeks notice asap. He can probably keep his business if he doesn't have to pay me, and I don't really need this job I kinda don't want anyways. At this point, it feels downright ethical to walk away, and I've got the emergency fund and rental income to support myself while I find a new path in life.

TL;DR Boss is overpaying me for a job I don't like and thereby sinking his business. Is it correct/ethical to quit asap?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 12:31:46 PM by Future Lazy »

GhostSaver

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2017, 12:32:05 PM »
Sounds like you can and should move on to other things.

Dave1442397

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2017, 12:37:24 PM »
Get another job, then quit (if the company lasts that long).

Future Lazy

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2017, 01:09:31 PM »
Get another job, then quit (if the company lasts that long).

This is why I say "ethically" ...  I can stay on at this job until the whole thing goes down. I'd likely keep collecting a paycheck, since my boss is a good guy who (apparently) lets his bills go before he lets is payroll go. Then, after he lays me off because he can't pay me anymore, or isn't able to keep his agency because he didn't get rid of me and hire a real salesperson, I'd get to collect unemployment for a while. That feels a lot like telling the captain of the ship that you have his back, while simultaneously planning a mutiny behind his back. It's emotional enabling to keep telling him that everything is fine, and the hard times will pass, when it's pretty clear the math is unsustainably bad. Continuing to tell him everything is going to be ok feels really.. wrong. Especially when I'm lying to someone I legitimately respect.

There are a lot of jobs available in my area, in all sorts of capacities, and finding a new job quickly is not a concern of mine.

Heroes821

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2017, 01:23:05 PM »
Maybe instead of just putting in two weeks notice you should do so while also laying out the numbers for him.  Help him understand what he needs to do to improve his return on his business and ways to cut costs.  Maybe show him MMM now that we have an entrepreneur section.

bugbaby

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2017, 02:44:39 PM »
 In your place, I'd quit nicely, and offer to do a part time contract for the 9k, to help him manage his books and the other stuff that overwhelms him.

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YoungInvestor

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2017, 06:04:31 PM »
Honestly, it's not your responsibility. Maybe he has other plans. I'm thinking he must have brought you in to increase the written premium from his agency and eventually have you generating enough business to pay for yourself.

If you don't think that's possible, I'd still get out because you don't seem to think the business is viable, and that will hurt your performance.

How about paying out the numbers and having him explain you the plan?

Smokystache

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2017, 07:20:28 PM »
Perhaps I missed it, but are you 100% sure that you know exactly how much he's making? Do you have full access to his books/income/paycheck statement? If so, ignore this. But isn't it possible that:
a) he has some base salary that you're not aware of?
b) old business/contract that had commissions that pay out over time or annual commissions that you don't see/know about?

...oops. Just saw your note about the ISP bill. But I would also argue that 1 late bill doesn't not definitely mean that he's about to go under. Soemtimes bills get lost for a month, etc.

I find it hard to believe that someone who has been in business for a while can't realize that 50k + 9k - 39k = $20k take home. Is this a new business? I can understand if someone missed on their initial projections of income for a new business, but I would be shocked that someone would so easily agree to a raise to a new employee without realizing that they just made the new employee's take-home pay double their own pay. ... of course, some people are really terrible with numbers and want to keep their head in the sand. ...


Bicycle_B

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2017, 07:23:59 PM »
Since you are able to walk away, and you can't know for sure what he's thinking, talk to him.  Tell him your concerns.  If he interrupts, listen.  Maybe you will find out something you don't know that will change your perspective.

You can decide what to do after you talk with him. 
 

Hotstreak

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2017, 08:38:49 PM »
I would be worried about whether or not my job was stable, not whether or not my managers job was stable. 

NeonPegasus

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2017, 08:51:30 PM »
If you cannot do the job for which you were hired (selling insurance to people whether you think they need it) and dread it, you should leave.

Left

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2017, 08:56:07 PM »
why not talk him into promoting you to something without sales? he can hire a cheaper person and you can do something in between

VeggieGirl

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2017, 10:30:57 PM »
Instead of continuing to tell your boss everything is ok, why not bring up your concerns? Just say the math doesn't seem to add up. Am I missing something? And see what your boss says to that.

bigalsmith101

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2017, 11:28:38 AM »
About 2 years ago I was in the same position. Though I was not overpaid, the job that I was paid to do was a job that my boss could have done at the time, but that he chose to outsource to me. He was SEVERELY behind on his bills, accruing debt faster than he could afford too, and was 6-8 weeks from impending insolvency.

I worked remotely, so I called him on the phone and told him exactly how F*#&$^ his situation was, in the most polite manner that would effectively communicate the dire situation he was in.

I was "laid off" in less than a week, and he had to let half of his business go to his competitors, as he couldn't afford the upkeep. HOWEVER, over the course of the next year, he was able to pay his debt, regain his footing in the marketplace, and get back into a much better situation.

You need to tell this man exactly how the situation relates to him, and then give him options. Likely, you should look for a new job, as you're not in a pleasant work scenario anyway.

Future Lazy

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2017, 12:04:27 PM »
Maybe instead of just putting in two weeks notice you should do so while also laying out the numbers for him.  Help him understand what he needs to do to improve his return on his business and ways to cut costs.  Maybe show him MMM now that we have an entrepreneur section.

Perhaps I missed it, but are you 100% sure that you know exactly how much he's making? Do you have full access to his books/income/paycheck statement? If so, ignore this. But isn't it possible that:
a) he has some base salary that you're not aware of?
b) old business/contract that had commissions that pay out over time or annual commissions that you don't see/know about?

...oops. Just saw your note about the ISP bill. But I would also argue that 1 late bill doesn't not definitely mean that he's about to go under. Soemtimes bills get lost for a month, etc.

I find it hard to believe that someone who has been in business for a while can't realize that 50k + 9k - 39k = $20k take home. Is this a new business? I can understand if someone missed on their initial projections of income for a new business, but I would be shocked that someone would so easily agree to a raise to a new employee without realizing that they just made the new employee's take-home pay double their own pay. ... of course, some people are really terrible with numbers and want to keep their head in the sand. ...

and
Honestly, it's not your responsibility. Maybe he has other plans. I'm thinking he must have brought you in to increase the written premium from his agency and eventually have you generating enough business to pay for yourself.

If you don't think that's possible, I'd still get out because you don't seem to think the business is viable, and that will hurt your performance.

How about paying out the numbers and having him explain you the plan?

+ Everyone else suggesting we go over the numbers together and do the serious talk -

I know that he makes 10% of the book premium - 10% of the book losses + bonuses for making higher quotas. The "bonus" portion of this is transient/vague, as Insurance Carrier doesn't really share how much it will be until they deposit it in your account. The book is about $750K per year, and we've had about $250k of losses so far this year, so that leaves 10% of 500k - $50,000 per year, give or take a little. I don't have full access to his books, but he has been very straight forward with me about how the business is structured, and I know/understand these general numbers.

Although he's been in the insurance industry 10+ years, he'd only been an agency owner for 11 months at the time I was hired (going on 18 months now). So, yes, I would say this is a new business, and a new business owner, going through the growing pains of running a business on his own for the first time.

We sat down in January and looked over all of the monthly bills for the company to see what was going out, including my pay. When we had this meeting, he shared that he doesn't really know what Insurance Carrier is paying him on a monthly basis vs. what portion of that he actually takes home for buying groceries. Basically, he hasn't ever had to calculate his own salary apart from commission income. We didn't even get to "How much are you paying for taxes yearly?" or "How much do you pay your CPA and/or payroll specialist?" Having this conversation with him is part of what led to selling his home. His long term plan is to quit with Insurance Carrier and break off to become an insurance brokerage of his own, which he thinks will cost $250k to $350k, and he thinks he can save about that much in 5 years. (Or, if we're being honest, his real dream is to quit the big city and live on a flower farm with his husband, his daughter and a bunch of goats. IMHO, it's not that much farther from $350k saved to FIRE + flowers + goats with a little extra work; boss responds "I don't dare to dream!" - Bummer, man!)

Our original discussion of employment and assignment of my job duties included very little or no lead generation work. Our mutual strategy on this was that it would free him up to focus on sales, which he excels at, and I would make sure that the book of business is maintained/customers are happy/prevent shrinkage/handle day to day clerical work, which I excel at. Primarily I've been responsible for office management and account management, not production. If I've written quotes or bound policies, they've been on inbound warm leads - people actively seeking coverage. So far, this system has worked out well for both of us. However, Insurance Carrier increased their expectations from 2.5 policies per week to 6 policies per week, which is what triggered a requirement that I cold call and try to generate leads. We've already had a long discussion about a lack of sustainability for having 2 employees, and I suggested that I should step away so he can hire a proper salesperson for the position. He's reluctant to accept that I'm not going to be a great salesperson if I just try real, real hard, and so he's asked me to just try real, real hard for 30 more days. Re sunk cost fallacy, uhrk.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2017, 09:10:09 AM »
Honestly, it sounds like he's not being very realistic.  Your job is going to disappear soon anyway.  Do what you think is right. 

Look for another job, tell him the truth about this one, and point out that him wasting his money on failing plans is throwing away the money that could pay for his real dream.  He needs to bail out of this intermediate step ASAP, using Insurance Carrier's new standards as the excuse to terminate.  Every day of indecision puts his dream farther out of reach.  They're using him, he's screwing himself.  Tell him you've grown to care about him and he needs to quit. 

Axecleaver

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2017, 03:06:44 PM »
Or, you could work out a plan to improve revenues by selling insurance to people who really need it for the risk mitigation it provides, and expand the pie. Take a closer look at the loss side - are these losses typical? Maybe it's just been a bad year for losses. Find the customers who really need your product. Start going to small business meetups and make some friends. Expand your professional network. Start creating value, making yourself worth more to your employer, rather than focusing on the cost-center side of your job.

I love my current insurance provider. My business needs professional liability and general liability insurance in order to do the work we're doing (contractual requirement). When I launched a second line of business last year, he fronted the money for my policies and let me pay it two months later, once my A/R cashflow caught up. That bought him a customer for life. There are good insurance providers out there, it can just be really tough to find them because it's such a competitive business, with lots of incentives for bad actors.

Future Lazy

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Re: Ethically, should I quit my job?
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2017, 03:55:25 PM »
I figured this thread wouldn't rise back to the top, but since it has, story update: Boss came to his senses and offered to keep me with a 30% pay cut (from $19/hr down to $12/hr + commission). I can't count on the amount of commission to be consistent, and this small business can't provide me with other benefits like PTO, retirement savings opportunities or tuition reimbursement. This is a pretty big opportunity cost for me. I can certainly get another job closer to my home (reclaim 6+ hours a week in commute) with equal or better pay than $12/hr, plus reap the benefits a larger company can provide. After more discussion, my boss and I came to the mutual agreement that it's best if he moves from an office manager to a proper insurance producer with verifiable past success. My last day here will be on May 12th.

Honestly, it sounds like he's not being very realistic.  Your job is going to disappear soon anyway.  Do what you think is right. 

Look for another job, tell him the truth about this one, and point out that him wasting his money on failing plans is throwing away the money that could pay for his real dream.  He needs to bail out of this intermediate step ASAP, using Insurance Carrier's new standards as the excuse to terminate.  Every day of indecision puts his dream farther out of reach.  They're using him, he's screwing himself.  Tell him you've grown to care about him and he needs to quit. 

Unfortunately, it's not this simple for him. However, he HAS been taking a lot of good steps in his personal finances to start accruing some proper "fuck you" money. After selling his house at the end of May, he'll be entirely debt free and have an emergency fund set up for himself. :) I'm really proud. He's also connected to a good local mastermind group, much better than the crummy leads group he was attending when I started 8 months ago, which is also helping him move in a good direction professionally. Part of that direction does happen to include coming to his senses about my compensation, but I'm okay with that - I expected this someday! He's well on his way to quitting with Insurance Carrier once and for all.


Or, you could work out a plan to improve revenues by selling insurance to people who really need it for the risk mitigation it provides, and expand the pie. Take a closer look at the loss side - are these losses typical? Maybe it's just been a bad year for losses. Find the customers who really need your product. Start going to small business meetups and make some friends. Expand your professional network. Start creating value, making yourself worth more to your employer, rather than focusing on the cost-center side of your job.

I love my current insurance provider. My business needs professional liability and general liability insurance in order to do the work we're doing (contractual requirement). When I launched a second line of business last year, he fronted the money for my policies and let me pay it two months later, once my A/R cashflow caught up. That bought him a customer for life. There are good insurance providers out there, it can just be really tough to find them because it's such a competitive business, with lots of incentives for bad actors.

Partially, it has just been a really bad year for losses. Someone had an Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist claim that hit their limit of $100K - and at the end of the day, we know it went to someone that really needed the help, and we're happy Insurance Carrier pays their claims and doesn't try to dodge responsibility.

That being said, I'm an introvert without verifiable success in a sales/commission environment. My boss knew this from the beginning, I didn't misrepresent myself, and we discussed it at length before he decided to hire me. He admitted he had some overly optimistic hopes that the skills he needed me to have would just appear from the circumstances, which apparently led to a miscommunication about the end result of my employment. I'm not built for sales. It doesn't mean I can't do it - my father was an outgoing salesman with a very successful business, and I understand how to talk to many different kinds of people. However, pushing myself to expend social energy at work would be at the expense of my personal relationships and mental health. Those pieces of personal and emotional stability aren't something I'm willing to trade away for any price.

Business and commercial insurance is very lucrative, but also very complicated. I've actually had more lead generation success with local business owners that individuals, but my boss doesn't understand commercial insurance well enough to teach me how to write it. In addition, Insurance Carrier is behind the times on a lot of endorsements, and our products are pretty bad for businesses. At any rate, I would rather move into this from the underwriting side of things. I've already been gearing up to start college in accounting/economics/finance, which would open underwriting up as a career option. No matter how you slice it, I'm always going to prefer a dark room, email and data analysis over meetups, networking and sales. I know that this leaves me vulnerable to automation, but that's a risk I'll have to live with in any non-interpersonal, non-skilled labor career.

(PS. What you described around your agent/provider paying for your policies himself and then collecting from you later is known as "rebating" and could actually get him in a lot of trouble, legally. :x  Really nice of him to do the favor, but also very risky!)