Last week, the Insurance Institute of Canada elected J.R. (Bob) Tisdale, president and COO of Pembridge Insurance Company, as chair of its board of governors during the professional association’s annual general meeting in Victoria, British Columbia.
Tisdale feels that the position is a particularly notable honor since continuing education is the route that he took to the C-suite himself.
“When I started in the business, I hadn’t finished high school,” he said. “But I completed all my education, including an MBA, FCIP, CRM and ICD.D at night school all while working full-time.”
While some critics contend that professional certification raises the threshold too high for young entrants to the industry, Tisdale believes this is not necessarily a bad thing.
“If you look at the market today, and how much the industry has evolved with all the different things we’re faced with today, I would strongly suggest that somebody should want a higher level of education coming in,” he said.
In addition, instead of viewing professional development as a barrier, the insurance industry should follow the precedent set by such organizations as Google and Microsoft.
“They want the best of the best, the brightest minds who aspire to go much further than the starting line,” Tisdale said. “We should also want people who aspire to the highest level of professionalism, so when consumers buy a product, they know that the person they’re dealing with has the knowledge and expertise to protect them.”
This applies to both the broker role – which can be enhanced through such avenues as the CIP, the FCIP – and also the specialist positions that the industry now requires. Researchers, for example, are needed for loss control engineering and IT experts are in high demand for their skills in addressing cyber risks.
Moreover, as personal and commercial exposures evolve, Tisdale believes it imperative for the industry to ensure that its professional representatives are prepared to take on those challenges.
“Let’s raise the standard so we have the smartest guys in the room figuring problems out,” he said. “Let’s be an ethical, professional industry and gain consumer confidence by maintaining that.”