Should the insurance industry be more 'open'?

Should the insurance industry be more 'open'? | Insurance Business New Zealand

Should the insurance industry be more 'open'?

Amid the persistent labour squeeze impacting hiring activities, insurance recruiter Jon Clark (pictured) is casting his net wide to further open up the sector to people with no insurance background but with transferable skills.

Speaking with Insurance Business, the Essex native shared how he himself had tried to join the industry via a junior broking position – a role he didn’t land but which led him to enter the world of insurance recruitment, after OCG Consulting Ltd offered him an opportunity to be part of the team.  

Clark’s remit also spans banking, wealth management, and mortgage, but at present he is focused on insurance jobs and candidates. A former salesperson, the now-consultant sees insurance as such an interesting industry, and he is keen to provide more people a chance to have a career in it.  

“I’ve been in the situation where I’ve had a bad experience with a recruiter myself, and I wouldn’t want people to go through the same process,” asserted Clark. “And, for me, it’s all about making sure I can give people that opportunity even if they haven’t got the experience, as they may have the right attitude. And that’s what I love about working in insurance recruitment.

“This is what I’m loving about this game – is that if I can believe a lot in my candidates, I talk to my clients and say, ‘Look, give them an opportunity’. They’ve really taken my guidance and are taking them on, and they’re doing really well.”

He added: “In the last couple of months, which has been ridiculously busy and successful for me, clients are starting to open up their eyes to not just having candidates with experience but having people with the right attitude.”

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Clark, however, conceded that highly specified roles, like that of a claims manager, will still require a certain level of experience and expertise. When it comes to the less-versed, though, it is Clark’s view that there is a benefit to investing in a new employee’s studies or qualifications, where appropriate, such as the New Zealand Certificate in Financial Services Level 5.

“This could be a life-changing career for someone,” declared Clark. “This could be their break. They can be in a rundown job or a job they’re not satisfied with. And I’ve been in that position myself. So, to see somebody go into a role [is something].

“My first-ever placement – she wasn’t too happy with her job, and we found her a role. It took about two months to get her the position, but now she’s loving it and I’m so happy for her.”

Currently, several roles Clark is looking to fill include personal lines underwriter, commercial broker, business development manager, and claims consultant.

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With the borders now open, some of Clark’s clients are also looking beyond the land of the long white cloud for their next hire. He cited South Africa, Australia, and the UK as some of the labour markets being tapped. He said there will be conversations around more diverse workplaces, not just in terms of where staff come from geographically, but also as far as their employment backgrounds go.

“I’m trying to educate my clients, saying, ‘Look at someone outside the box’,” Clark told Insurance Business. “[For brokers], look at these guys who are coming outside the box with sales experience or customer service experience… Clients are going, ‘Why have we not looked at this before?’

“It’s great, because now that they’ve looked, they’re more accepting for different types of candidates popping through and not just going, ‘Oh, you need more experience’. ‘How am I going to get the experience if you don’t give me an opportunity?’ So, that’s what I fight for.”

Clark does not claim his approach is an entirely new take on insurance hiring, but he believes it is something worth considering, particularly amid a tight labour market.

“I’m not saying it never happened,” he said, “but it’s something that I think needs to be put out a bit more… It gives us a wider spectrum to find good people. Obviously, ‘with experience’ is great, but people with the right attitude – they’ll do well.”