Meeting Tomorrow Halfway
No-one it seems, ever dreams of a career in insurance. Those lucky enough to have a burning desire to follow a chosen path can at least pursue that goal. The rest of us “arrived” in the industry without actually setting out to be here.
There are a great number of talented, hard-working people in the industry which, despite the loathing heaped upon it by the popular press, continues to oil the gears of businesses of every shape and size, protects most of us when the worst happens and copes, somehow, with the burdens heaped upon it by Government whenever they have a logistical problem (like the Motor Insurance Database) that they would prefer that someone else grapple with. Insurance meets the challenges of new technology (as do most other industries) whilst being widely exposed to fraud at so many levels across virtually every type of contract there is.
The industry is regulated, and quite properly cherishes the individuals who, through months and years of study, achieve qualifications. Slowly, with one eye always drawn to the competition, insurance companies and insurance brokers are embracing the technology and the skills of combating fraud, evolving many full–time roles in doing simply that.
From inside the industry looking out, there has rarely been a more challenging AND exciting time to be involved, the challenges keep coming and the world moves on relentlessly, bringing more change, and more quickly, with every passing day.
Successful teams are built from a diverse array of talents, the most successful are always looking up the road to see what may be coming next. Succession planning takes many forms, sometimes a gap has to be filled urgently at great expense, sometimes success seems permanent and the future guaranteed, but without new blood and without pressure on the existing dynamic, there is a real risk that the enterprise will stall and slip back to be overtaken by others.
In my experience, insurance has sometimes paid lip service to the recruitment of young people. There are always opportunities for graduates (and rightly so); I would suggest that is less so for young people who haven’t progressed to degree level, but are still bright, hungry and eager to learn. Just when I thought that might just be my perception, we find that the average age of people in the insurance industry in this country has risen sharply in the last 18 months alone from 36.5 to 39. Whatever the impact of later retirement may be, that does not seem likely to be the root cause of what is, quite clearly, a worsening problem.
There is also the question of the definition and use of expertise. In trying to expand sales, is it always necessary to employ someone who has always sold insurance? Having seen a successful transformation of a sales and retention programme built upon the methods used to sell motor vehicles, I would say not. That’s a simple example but, even so, it presents challenges to the employer. The right person coming into the business asks “why do we do it this way?”. With the right people around them in the team, these questions can be the platform for genuine innovation and long-term success. There are, of course, many instances of insurance companies and insurance brokers recruiting “external” expertise, I would argue that the more the whole environment changes, the more receptive insurance must be to this kind of option. Companies promoting online banking are recruiting people of all ages and all walks of life and converting them to their trained skilled workforce of the future.
These are not the only issues. Recruiting people who represent raw talent and potential has many challenges. The existing members of the team will need to support and guide them and be receptive to new ideas. The checks and balances (not just of compliance per se) will need to address all the core protocols of problem-solving and delivering customer satisfaction, whilst still improving the day-to-day performance of the business. Improved performance MUST lead to reward across the team. Inside this framework, study and qualification needs to be addressed and, of course, rewarded, but there has to be recognition of the mentors, who may be raising a succession of hungry newcomers.
Independent Appointments has prided itself on providing clients with as many round pegs as there are round holes, and it has done that by understanding the industry from within and by striving to understand the needs of the individual. As much as we often need to find the person that is needed to fill a sudden, and often expensive, vacancy, we aim to avoid turning that situation into a short-term fix, despite the fact that short-term fixes permeate our lives at every level.
We encourage and support young people looking to make their career in the industry and we are determined to promote conversations that will lead us to meet capable people who may not even think they are looking for a career in insurance … a different way of things coming full circle, perhaps.
We like to think that we seldom deal in square pegs, but there has to be a time to ask the client to embrace what the candidate could become, maybe occasionally, in the same breath with which we coax a candidate to take a small step backward before the next, giant stride forward.
Writen by: Andrew Cowling on 2017-03-22
Tagged under: Insurance.
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