Hiring millennials in insurance shouldn’t be this hard, new survey data says

Hiring millennials in insurance shouldn’t be this hard, new survey data says

Hiring millennials in insurance shouldn’t be this hard, new survey data says If the insurance industry wants to close its oncoming talent gap by hiring more young people, it’s going to have to contend with a serious communications failure. New research reveals that while an overwhelming majority of young insurance professionals love their careers and intend to remain in the industry as long as possible, millennials in general still view the sector with disdain.
The problem is a big one. The average US insurance agent is now 59 years old, and in order for the industry to meet oncoming demand, independent agencies will need to hire four young people for each producer getting ready to retire.
But any efforts made to bring in young blood have been stymied by the simple fact that a career in insurance simply does not appeal to millennials. Research conducted in 2015 by The Hartford reveals that only 4% of people aged 18 to 34 say they’re drawn to insurance, with many describing the industry as “boring.”
A new survey, released Monday by insurance technology developer Vertafore, pushes back against those notions. In its third annual “Millennials in Insurance” survey, Vertafore found that a full 81% of respondents plan to remain in insurance as long as possible, and 70% would also recommend a career in the industry to friends.
“When you dig into these results, it’s very clear that we have a big perception problem when it comes to what insurance can offer young people,” Guy Weismantel, vice president of marketing with Vertafore, told Insurance Business America. “When you talk with millennials on the frontlines of the industry, they say insurance is giving them exactly what young people in general are looking for – so it’s alarming that we haven’t figured out how to lower the perception barrier and make insurance a viable career path.”
One way to do that may be stressing how insurance answers much of what millennials say is on their career wish list. A vast majority (81%) told Vertafore that financial stability was most important in their decision to remain in the industry, while 78% cited work-life balance as a plus for working in insurance. Another three-quarters said it was career development – a factor Gallup surveys indicate is the most important source of job satisfaction for millennials.
Technology is also key. Though not measured specifically as a recruiting tool in the Vertafore survey, Weismantel says the chance to work with technology is a “massive” plus in the industry’s favor. Almost 86% of respondents said technology in the workplace is increasing and enabling them to better reach serve customers. Fifty percent regularly use social media to perform business functions, and – despite the industry’s reputation as tech-averse – a full two-thirds of young insurance professionals said they were satisfied with their own company’s use of technology.
“That’s a big increase over the past few years, and very encouraging for us to see because technology is a lens through which millennials really look to see if they’d fit in and enjoy working at a particular company,” Weismantel told IBA.
Of course, the ability of the industry to bring this message forward to young people will be key in determining how it adapts to the “silver tsunami” of employee retirement. While Weismantel believes there is “no one silver bullet,” investing in technology and flexible work structures, along with using millennial employees to reach out to other young people, is imperative.
And for their part, millennials are optimistic. A full 85% of those surveyed said they are confident the industry will continue to evolve, attracting the next generation of insurance talent.
“The insurance industry has turned over a new leaf with millennials, and we are in the midst of a technology revolution that is disrupting insurance and attracting a new generation of tech savvy talent that is optimistic about the future,” Weismantel said. “Couple with the qualities that a career in insurance offers, we see why the millennial generation is thriving in this industry and why more young professionals are looking at insurance for fulfilling, long-time careers.”
Vertafore interviewed 4,000 insurance professionals for the survey, including 1,000 millennials in the industry.

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  • Fred Travis 7/20/2017 4:25:45 PM
    Reading yet another article bemoaning the lack of young people joining the insurance industry, and having just read a glowing article about the work the Spencer Foundation has done, I am surprised by how much the industry is misinformed about "Millennials" and how to recruit them. My answer may confound both Spencer and its supporters, but will hopefully drive some creative thinking.

    Depending upon whom you ask and what report you read, there are somewhere between 60 and 80 Risk Management and/or Insurance (RMI) programs at U.S. colleges and universities. This includes programs offering majors, minors, concentrations, and other education models. Compare that to approximately 800 university business programs accredited by AACSB, and nearly 2,400 four-year institutions in the U.S. How many of those business programs do you think have a Finance department? Probably 100%, compared to at most 10% with an RMI program.

    The insurance industry has long put its money into scholarships, internships, and a handful of well-established RMI programs. But, it should be clear from the numbers that the problem of reaching young talent is the dearth of exposure to RMI education. When just 3% of colleges and universities have RMI programs, 97% of students are not being exposed to insurance education. So it should not be surprising that the vast majority of millennials say that insurance is boring -- they haven't had any experience, whether in the classroom, or as an intern, or through Gamma Iota Sigma, or in some other fashion that they are used to as a student.
    In conclusion, I do not mean to criticize the Spencer Foundation or its supporters in any way. In addition to providing many scholarships to deserving students, Spencer gives "seed money" grants to start new RMI programs, and I was blessed to receive one to start our RMI program at University of Missouri. But I call upon the insurance industry to start thinking about funding an increase the number of RMI programs, and to enhance the ability to attract and educate students in the current programs.

    Thanks for listening!

    Fred Travis
    Executive Director, RMI Program
    Trulaske College of Business
    University of Missouri - Columbia
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