Insurance broking company Crombie Lockwood has selected five graduates for its new Early Talent programme, which has been piloted this year as a way of getting young people fresh out of university into the sector.
The five new starters were chosen following a demanding selection process, and will now embark on an 11-month journey to learn the ins and outs of Crombie Lockwood’s business. They will spend time with the claims team in Palmerston North and enterprise teams in other branches, as well as spending time on rotation between Auckland and Wellington.
Crombie Lockwood talent manager Susan Wilson says the Early Talent programme has been designed as a way to cope with the talent shortage in the insurance industry, and aims to give the graduates the best possible kick-start to their careers as insurance brokers.
“We’d been talking about implementing this kind of programme for some time, because a lot of organisations have been struggling with talent shortage and an ageing demographic in terms of their workforce,” Wilson told Insurance Business.
“We put some budget aside to run a pilot this year, and the first thing to do was to scope out what the profile of a good candidate would look like.”
“It was important for us to know that this is a long-term career option for people,” she explained.
“We know that people don’t necessarily make insurance their career choice from university – they don’t grow up thinking ‘when I graduate, I’m going to be an insurance broker.’ So we looked at what makes a successful broker, and bear in mind that securing the right talent isn’t easy when you don’t have experience that you can measure them against - you’re very much looking at the soft skills, and the graduates who made it really earned their place here. The selection process was very rigorous.”
As part of this selection process, graduates were invited to make an application and then assessed on their verbal and numeric abilities – factors which Wilson says have traditionally been great predictors of future success.
This was followed by a video interview, which gave them 30 seconds to think about a question before answering it on camera. A profile questionnaire measured curiosity, resilience and communication skills, and shortlisted applicants were then invited to an assessment centre with twenty Crombie Lockwood employees, and put through an interview and a group exercise focused on solving an insurance problem.
“What I found interesting is that of the five people who were selected, you couldn’t have picked five more different individuals,” Wilson said.
“But they had real similarity in terms of their motivation, resilience, curiosity and communication skills, and they all worked amazingly well as a team. I love that, because our customer base is really diverse, and so brokers should be a diverse range of people.”
As the wider industry is pushed towards higher standards of entry, Wilson says this type of recruitment methodology is a great way of assessing candidates who don’t have a backlog of previous work experience, while also keeping standards high.
Once the successful graduates complete their 11-month training, they will then join one of Crombie Lockwood’s branches as brokers..
“It’s a really robust recruit methodology,” Wilson said. “When you don’t have experience to base a decision on past behaviour, you have to base it on other things. We’ve invested a lot in these guys, and so we needed to make sure we’re getting the right people – a) to set them up to succeed, and b) to make sure we can retain them.
“It’s important that they’re happy, want to stay and want to do this job, and they’re certainly all very excited to get started.”