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Agent vs. Agency: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
An "agent" is an individual who acts on behalf of another, while an "agency" is an organization or company that provides a particular service.

Key Differences

An agent is a person who is authorized to act for or in place of another, typically to conduct a range of tasks or transactions. An agency is an entity, often a business or government body, that facilitates certain actions or services through its agents.
An agent often works within an agency and represents its goals or business, carrying out specific duties. An agency provides the structure, support, and authorization that allows an agent to perform their role effectively.
In real estate, an agent is the individual facilitating property sales, while the agency they work for handles the business's broader aspects, including marketing and client portfolios.
Agents can operate in various fields such as literary, sports, and travel, providing specialized services, while agencies are the organized groups that represent collective interests, often employing multiple agents.
The efficacy of an agent is often tied to their personal skills and interactions, whereas an agency's reputation can be shaped by the collective success and standards of its agents.

Comparison Chart


Individual who acts on behalf of another.
Organization providing a service through its representatives.


Represents the agency or client in specific dealings.
Represents a collective or business entity.


Carries out specific tasks.
Manages and oversees operations and agents.

Scale of Operation

Operates on a personal or individual level.
Operates on a larger, organizational level.

Example Professionals

Real estate agents, insurance agents.
Real estate agencies, advertising agencies.

Agent and Agency Definitions


A substance that brings about a chemical or physical effect.
Bleach is an effective cleaning agent.


The ability to act or intervene in a particular way.
Empowering women's agency is vital for social progress.


An active force or substance in a specified process.
Enzymes are biological agents that speed up chemical reactions.


The capacity of individuals to act independently.
The novel explores the theme of personal agency and free will.


A representative in espionage or intelligence.
The agent gathered information covertly in foreign lands.


A government department that provides a specific service.
The Environmental Protection Agency regulates pollutants.


A person who acts on behalf of another person or group.
The agent arranged the contract negotiations for the player.


A business or organization established to provide a particular service.
The advertising agency launched a new campaign for the brand.


A commercial representative of an insurance company or similar.
The insurance agent helped them choose the best policy.


An intervention force or action.
The relief agency provided aid to the disaster-stricken area.


One that acts or has the power or authority to act.


The condition of being in action; operation.


One empowered to act for or represent another
An author's agent.
An insurance agent.


The means or mode of acting; instrumentality.


Can anyone become an agent?

Typically, agents require specific qualifications or licenses depending on the field.

Are all agencies for-profit?

No, there are non-profit and governmental agencies.

Can an agent work independently of an agency?

Yes, but they often work together as the agency provides support and resources.

Do agents have decision-making power?

They have some autonomy but usually act within the guidelines of the agency.

What is the main function of an agent?

To represent and act on behalf of their clients or the agency.

How does one start an agency?

Starting an agency requires industry knowledge, capital, and a business plan.

Do agents work in specific industries?

Yes, agents specialize in sectors like entertainment, real estate, or insurance.

Are agencies regulated?

Many agencies, especially in sectors like finance or healthcare, are heavily regulated.

What is the purpose of an agency?

To organize and provide services through a collective group of agents.

Does an agency only refer to businesses?

No, it can also refer to government departments or non-profit organizations.

Can an agent work for multiple clients?

Yes, agents often handle multiple clients, especially in real estate and insurance.

Is an agency always made up of multiple agents?

Most agencies employ several agents, but some small agencies may have only a few.

How do agents earn money?

Agents typically earn through commissions or salaries paid by the agency.

Can an agency be held liable for an agent's actions?

Yes, if the agent is acting within the scope of their employment.

Can an agent represent multiple agencies?

It depends on the contract, but agents typically represent one agency at a time.

Is the term 'agent' used in law enforcement?

Yes, terms like 'FBI agent' are commonly used in law enforcement.

How is an agency's success measured?

Success can be measured by client satisfaction, reputation, and financial performance.

What legal obligations do agencies have?

Agencies must comply with relevant laws and regulations in their area of operation.

Can agencies operate internationally?

Yes, many large agencies have an international presence.

Do agents need to follow an ethical code?

Yes, most professions have ethical standards that agents must adhere to.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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