For a career path that offers variety, solid job security and the chance to meaningfully contribute to the equilibrium of society, insurance all too rarely fills a slot on the career ‘wishlist’ of those looking for the next professional step. The good news is that the best advertisement for a career in insurance is the professionals themselves who have built long-lasting careers and can personally attest to the value of their roles.
Conversations with such individuals across the insurance ecosystem shed light not just on what makes this career decision rewarding, but also on the inhibiting factors preventing access to the sector. In keeping with the adage that a wise person learns from their mistakes, but a genius learns from the mistakes of others, by evaluating such insights insurance providers can enrich their own talent recruitment and retention processes.
Changing the conversation
It is time to change the conversation about insurance. And this, like any change, needs to start at the very root of the issue. Simply put, there is not enough financial services education in the current curriculum and people are leaving primary school, secondary school and even university without a fundamental grasp on what insurance is or what it can do.
Over the last year, it has become clear that the absence of such education is disadvantageous to the consumer throughout their lifespan. All along the chain, from brokers, to insurers, to loss adjusters, to MGAs, to insurtechs, insurance professionals must make it a priority to educate their clients and local communities about what they do, how they do it, why they do it and what it means for their customers.
But changing the conversation is not just about altering the public perception of insurance, it also demands a more introspective approach. Common parlance surrounding entry often refers to “falling” into the profession, an expression which reveals how few actively choose to join the sector. Anyone who has ever fallen before, however, will tell you it’s all about how you land, and more industry discussion needs to embrace the varied landing ground that is the insurance industry – after all, variety truly is the spice of life.
Looking to the future
The question of talent in the insurance industry but must keep an eye fixed to the future. Insurance companies need to start looking more closely at the profile of the generation coming up through the ranks and what they are looking for from their work environments. In an interview last year with Insurance Business, Bravo Group’s HR director Clare Wakeford noted that the upcoming generation has different motivations, including an increased emphasis on co-worker friendships and collaboration.
Insurance companies need to have HR personnel in place who are prepared to cater the business’s offering to the requirements of the next generation. Wakeford highlighted that these include the call for more flexibility, regular feedback and recognition of value.
One key thing about working in the insurance industry is how quickly faces and names become familiar and it is not uncommon for a person to leave a business and return years later in a different capacity. Insurance companies must allow staff flexibility and expect that they will want to progress their careers which, in some cases, will mean moving on.
For all its size, the industry is close-knit and a career is generally several decades long, so employers must take care not to burn bridges when it comes to staff moving on. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the younger generation, with millennials reported to likely hold down 12 jobs in their lifetime. Letting employees go and, more importantly, keeping the door open for them to return, is what keeps the lifeblood of talent following through the industry.
Exploring a full range of options
The insurance industry must take strides to look beyond a finite pool of talent. A narrow focus and a fixation on the concept of the ‘perfect candidate’ decreases the diversity of experience brought to the table. Insurance is a diverse product by its very nature, and customers want their experiences reflected by their providers.
Companies must expand the parameters of their talent search to embrace diversity, not just of gender or race, but also of age, disability, financial background, education and all the other considerations which don’t make a candidate any less viable and shouldn’t make them any less considered. From my experience, it is clear that there is no one personality type which makes up the insurance sector and this must be recognised, embraced and, above all, publicised, if the industry is to find and retain a new wave of talent.