Is a degree necessary for an insurance career?

Is a degree necessary for an insurance career?

Is a degree necessary for an insurance career? With education in the insurance industry a hot topic, an Insurance Business poll has revealed that 73% of insurance professionals do not believe a bachelor degree should be mandated as a minimum requirement for a job in the insurance industry.

The poll of over 150 insurance professionals found an over-whelming response from industry professionals backing a university free path to the insurance industry.

David Lamb, CEO of Sportscover agreed, as he believes that it isn’t only a by-the-books education that is needed for the industry to continue to thrive.

“It depends on the role they are involved in,” Lamb said of the survey question.

“I think one of the things that we miss at the moment is the balance between soft skills and hard skills.”

Lamb stressed that while a university education is beneficial for some roles, there are also many skills needed on the job that will be lacking if the industry relies solely on university graduates.

“So many people come with an important and well valued piece of paper in hard skills but so little in relation to relationship building skills, negotiation skills, and emotional intelligence.

“I would like to see a greater emphasis on what I call the soft skills in relation to people management, people’s interactions, people’s drive, people’s sales focus, all those types of things.”

Winner of the Generation i Youth Development and Employer of the Year award at last year’s Australian Insurance Industry Awards, Sportscover offer members of staff a “personal business coach,” to help foster professional development on the job and Lamb said that investing time in industry professionals is paramount to business success.

“I think a degree is a relevant qualification for a number of insurance roles but I wouldn’t say it’s a pre-requisite as a carte blanche and I’d say one thing we do lack is making sure we spend the time to invest in people and teach them some of the soft skills in the business as opposed to just purely just the skills they can get from a university.”
27 Comments
  • Mike Sullivan 30/06/2015 9:36:04 AM
    Agree entirely we are breeding a group of academics that can not communicate, build relationships or aspire to having business savvy. It is a by the book digital methodology.
    We are not creating a desire in these people to excel in soft skills and talent. In fact I have staff that avoid making a phone call and send emails, the voice is more influential than the key board!!
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  • Just an Observer 30/06/2015 9:47:39 AM
    Wonder how many of the 150 professionals involved in survey actually have a degree? And are under 50?

    I am 60 and have had a Dip in Bus Ins (from old Prahran college which I understand is now equal to a Degree) had a Fellowship since 1976.

    Education is the foundation stone to raising the level of professionalism in the industry. But only if it is supported by ethics and common sense.

    On the job training & Mentoring are vital to building on the technical knowledge gained in the class room.

    One without the other is just not a long term solution for the industry.

    Having said that, the young Turks coming into the industry with degrees need to understand that a degree is the first step in what can be a long and fulfilling career.
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  • Higher Standards 30/06/2015 10:14:24 AM
    The insurance industry needs to raise the bar. We need to stop being the fall back for people who haven't got any tertiary qualifications and can't get a job in any other industry.

    Would you see a lawyer for legal advice if they didn't have a degree? Would you see a doctor for medical advice if they didn't have a degree? Why do we have people in the insurance and finance industry that only have a diploma? A diploma that is really quite easy to obtain.

    The current barriers to entry are far too low, and it shows in daily dealings with the industry. 'Soft skills' are fine, but you need solid foundations in technical knowledge to properly carry out your job. As a broker, you're giving advice to a client; they're relying on you to know what you're talking about. As an underwriter, you're either dealing direct with the client, so you're in the same position as the broker, or you're dealing with brokers, and you still need to have an in depth knowledge of business, risk, and in pretty much all cases, the law.

    If insurance wants to be taken seriously as a profession, as opposed to a junketing necessary evil, then we need to increase our professional standards beyond that of used car sales.

    A degree isn't the be-all and end-all, but it is a solid starting point. If more universities offered insurance based business degrees, then we would have a greater opportunity of increasing the education standard for the industry.


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