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The power of apprenticeships in insurance broking

The power of apprenticeships in insurance broking | Insurance Business

The power of apprenticeships in insurance broking

As with so many of his peers the fact that Daniel Innes (pictured), a board director at Clear Insurance Management, fell into insurance broking has not prevented him from enjoying a varied and rewarding career in the sector. His introduction to the insurance industry occurred when, as a teenager looking to fund his mountain biking habit, he took on a job washing cars. Having finished his A-levels Innes did not know what he wanted to do, and when he was speaking to a customer one day he was offered a job working at a local brokerage.

“On Saturday, I was cleaning [this broker’s] car,” Innes remarked, “and on that Monday I was working in his office.”

From there Innes worked steadily in the insurance sector until 2001 when Clear Insurance was established, and he knew he wanted to be part of a business which had built itself from the ground up. When the company started there were only about 20 employees but since then it has grown to over 250 people.

“It’s nice to grow your career with a company, and it almost feels like I’ve spent my entire working life at Clear, despite having spent several years elsewhere. It’s been really lovely getting to work with this amazing crew,” he said. “We’ve got people working or apprenticing at Clear now who weren’t even born when the business started so it’s really been quite a long time.”

While many working in the broking sector may not have originally intended to pursue a career in insurance, Innes highlighted that operating within this space comes with a variety of advantages, not least the social element of the job which allows him to mingle with a fantastic range of clients. Meeting clients and insurers in an environment like the City is such a wonderful interaction and it can only be hoped that the COVID-19 pandemic will not interfere with this in the long term.

Read more: Clear Insurance Management CEO on a life in broking

Another element of his role that Innes is passionate about is the growth and development of the staff at Clear, and the business is committed to developing its talent pipeline by taking on a number of apprentices each year. Taking on these individuals, some of whom have come straight from school, and watching their progression is incredibly rewarding and has been a consistently positive experience for the business. Seeing these apprentices join and evolve with the business has also given him direct insight into the key quality needed to be a successful insurance broker.

“The ability to communicate clearly is something I’ve noticed,” he said. “With the first round of apprentices that we had, I’ve never witnessed a more confident group of people. They had to do a presentation about their first six months in the programme and there was no hesitation and I was amazed at the level of confidence they held. And that shows in the way that they deal with clients. It’s nice to be able to train them in the way that we want them to work from day one, but they came to the business with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and passion.

“You hear a lot about the ‘Snowflake Generation’ but we haven’t seen any of that from our apprentices who are all willing to work really hard. And part of that is about getting the right person in the first place, and we interviewed each of them before they started but you can see the people who are willing to work and who want to develop, and we’ve been able to pick the right ones.”

Read more: The alignment between young talent and strategic development

While the team at Clear has been lucky enough to have an IT team which was able to mobilise and enable a remote working capacity in a short space of time, Innes noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have not been easy for many businesses. In the insurance industry, the wheels have kept turning quite smoothly and while there have been blips in the service of some companies, as a whole the industry has rallied impressively and should be applauded for the work that it has done, he said.

Looking at the press that the insurance sector has received in recent months, Innes said: “We have to do a good job and we have to be honest with our clients. And if you start from that point, you can start to break down the negative press [the industry] is receiving at the moment. Because the fact is that brokers are trying to do the right thing, certainly Clear is trying to do the right thing, so it’s about keeping that level of communication and honesty.”

Innes is looking forward to the lifting of the lockdown and the opportunity it will bring for him to interact with the Clear team in both a professional and a social environment again. It has been both strange and tough to be working away from people who he used to see daily, he said, and it will be great to have an opportunity to catch up once more.

“It’s just not the same seeing someone on Zoom as it is chatting with them in a bar in London, so fingers crossed that we’re back at some point,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that, like everybody else, I’m going to work from home a few days of the week from now on. And when that happens it will give us all a better work-life balance, but I’m looking forward to getting back and having a pint with the team.”