Most insurance professionals are either born into the industry or they fall into it by accident.
Attracting and retaining young talent is often deemed one of the greatest challenges of the industry, especially among those who lack the family tie or fated connection. Part of the problem is that insurance harbors the unfortunate reputation of being a bit boring.
“Insurance is anything but boring! It’s the greatest business on Earth,” said J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Gallagher.
He’s a passionate insurance veteran with a point to make, and he’s spreading the message with interns on the thriving Gallagher Summer Internship Program (GSIP), which takes hundreds of the brightest college students on-board each year.
“The GSIP has been running for 52 years and it still revolves around my grandfather’s mantra that insurance is the greatest business on the planet,” said Gallagher, Jr., who was a GSIP intern back in 1972. “Over the years, we’ve developed a unique method of bringing young people into the insurance industry, focusing on whether they have the right personality, skills and drive to be successful in the industry. We don’t just go for business majors or risk management majors. It’s really about personality and whether we think they would enjoy the industry.”
It’s no secret that the insurance industry has a bit of an age problem. The average age is around 50-55 years-old. It’s understandable why younger generations might be a tad tentative before approaching the business. Gallagher, Jr. is crossing that bridge by using his extensive experience to open dialogue with interns about why the insurance industry is so important and exciting.
“One point that seems to resonate with these young folks is that insurance really is there to help people and put people’s lives back together,” Gallagher, Jr. told Insurance Business. “I was in New Orleans seven days after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. It looked like an atom bomb had gone off. Look at New Orleans now. The federal government didn’t put that city back together; the insurance industry did.
“When we’re standing outside a burned-down home, we can’t get the valuable photographs back for the homeowner, but we can rebuild the house and help them with living expenses during that process. We help people whose lives have been turned upside down. That message really hits home with the interns.”
About 440 young people will participate in the 2018 GSIP in the US, with many more joining Gallagher hubs around the world. Approximately 70% are eligible to receive a full-time offer, and 58% of those candidates are converted to a full-time role, with an 83% acceptance rate. After five years, 60% of interns who accept job offers are still working at Gallagher.
Interns who accept jobs are then placed on a robust three-year training and development program called the Gallagher Career Associate Program (GCAP), where they have the chance to move up the ranks within the company.
“The GCIP has been unbelievably important to our success at Gallagher. It has allowed us to bring young people into the industry, train them to work in the Gallagher way, and teach them vast expertise that cover multiple insurance career paths,” Gallagher, Jr. added. “They’re helping us grow organically and they’re bringing exciting new skillsets with them.
“There seems to be an awful lot of negative press about millennials and the next generation coming out of school. Quite honestly, at Gallagher we recruit hundreds of these people every year and they’re absolute dynamite. They’re proactive, they’re community orientated, they’re as smart as can be, and they learn things so quickly. I have no complaints.”